Why Do My Lights Flicker?

A picture of a burnt out light bulb

Why Do My Lights Flicker?

If the washer humming to life makes everything from fluorescent to LED lights flicker, you’re not alone. People often notice flickering lights when a large appliance, like the dishwasher or washing machine, kicks on. But in Indiana, there are a few reasons lights will flicker or blink. Solutions could be as simple as screwing the light bulb in all the way or as extensive as repairing your house’s wiring.

What Causes Lights Pulsing in the House?

Flickering lights are a symptom of several electrical issues. Keep track of when you notice pulsing lights to identify possible causes and decide if it’s possible to fix yourself. More complicated problems will require professional assistance.

  • Loose light bulbs. A loose connection with the socket can cause the light to flicker. To fix this, turn the light off and use a glove or cloth to protect your hand from the heat as you tighten the bulb. Try the light again and see if the flickering is gone.

  • Incompatible dimmer switch. Conventional dimmers are designed to work with incandescent light bulbs. The control may be the issue if your fluorescent or LED lights flicker on the dimmer. Updating to LED dimmer switches should solve the problem.

  • Change in voltage. Your home voltage often fluctuates between 115 and 125 volts. Any fluctuations outside that range could cause serious problems and require a professional to diagnose the issue. Schedule an inspection if you notice the lights pulse when the washer runs, light bulbs burn out quickly, light fixtures randomly dim, or appliances start to malfunction.

  • Loose wiring. Poorly installed, worn, or damaged wiring can become loose and lose the strong connection lights need to stay consistent. Wiring issues can also quickly become a fire hazard. If you suspect your home has damaged or loose wiring, an electrical inspection can help put your mind at ease.

  • Overloading a circuit. If the lights flicker when the AC turns on, your large appliances may pull too much power from the system as they start up. If this issue happens frequently, you may want to upgrade your circuit to supply your appliances with the appropriate amount of electricity.


How to Tell if a Circuit Is Overloaded

You can overload a circuit when too many appliances draw power or you have damaged wiring. According to the National Fire Protection Association, overloaded circuits play a significant role in the 47,700 electrical fires that spark yearly in the United States. Keep an eye out for common signs that your home’s circuits could be overloaded:

  1. Watch for dimming lights. Dimming or flickering lights—especially when running other appliances—often indicate that your circuit is attempting to run more than it can handle.

  2. Feel switches and outlets for heat. When appliances pull more energy than the circuit is designed to run, the extra energy heats the switch and outlet plates, sometimes scorching them.

  3. Listen for buzzing. A switch or outlet with connectivity problems can start to buzz. This sound indicates energy arcing to jump from metal to metal rather than flowing safely through the wire. Arcing electricity is hazardous and should be addressed immediately.

  4. Take note of burning smells. If your outlet receptacles smell like burning, turn off power to that area of the home and contact a professional to change that outlet as soon as possible.

  5. Recognize power lags. When you distribute power among too many appliances, blenders or power tools may run slower than expected as they struggle to capture enough electricity.


Updating Home Electrical Wiring in Indianapolis

Flickering lights are often a telltale sign that things are wrong inside the walls of your home. Before you call for assistance, check for a simple solution, like tightening a loose bulb or changing a dimmer switch. Our skilled electricians at Mister Sparky Electric of Indianapolis, IN can quickly and accurately solve more complex electrical issues. Give us a call at (317) 342-0959 or schedule service online for swift electrical service you can trust.