What Causes Flickering Lights and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Them

With the winter bringing shorter days to Charlotte, it’s likely that you’ll be using your indoor lights far more frequently. Most of the time, your home’s lights will operate perfectly without a second thought. If you begin to notice that your lights are flickering, though, it’s important to pay attention.

Figuring out the cause behind the flickering will determine if you need to have Putnam Mechanical come and take a look at your home’s electrical system. Here are some of the top causes of flickering lights.

Too Much Demand

If your lights only seem to flicker at certain times, the problem could be too much demand on the electrical circuit. At Putnam Mechanical, we see this frequently in bathrooms. Most of the time, the bathroom light fixture works as it’s supposed to. However, when a high-draw device, such as a hairdryer or flat iron is plugged in, the lights begin to flicker. This indicates that you may need to split a certain area in your home into multiple circuits to ensure that you have enough power available to provide for your peak demand.

Bulb Going Bad

Typically, with incandescent bulbs, the bulb is either working or dead. However, with LED bulbs, there is typically a reduction in performance over time instead of an all-at-once failure. In some cases, this could cause a flickering condition similar to what would happen if you had an electrical problem. All you have to do to check and see if this is the problem is to replace the flickering bulb. If that clears up the problem, you’re good to go.

Bad Dimmer

In general, it’s rare that we see a regular light switch go bad. However, dimmer switches are another story entirely. When you consider that some newer bulbs aren’t designed to be used with dimmers at all and factor in the number of dimmers that are now available on the market, it’s easy to see how something could go awry.

While a bad dimmer typically won’t cause a fire hazard, it can cause you to burn through bulbs quite quickly. Plus, every device that is on a bad dimmer is at risk of permanent damage, meaning that you need to have an electrician evaluate the dimmer switch as quickly as possible.

Loose Connection

If a wire is in the process of coming loose from either your switch or your light fixture, it could cause the light bulb to flicker. Although a loose connection may be an easy fix for Putnam Mechanical, it could also be an indication of a more serious issue. After all, electrical fixtures are designed to hold tightly to electrical wiring. Therefore, if the wire has been able to work itself loose, it could mean that the fixture needs to be replaced or that your wiring has been stretched too tight due to a separate home renovation project.

Missing Insulation

Each electrical wire in your home is insulated to prevent the bare copper from contacting other wires or metal objects. However, if that insulation gets worn away due to pests in your home or due to the wire rubbing on something, it could cause major issues.

The worst-case scenario is that the wire will contact a conductive material, causing the wire to short. This short can cause sparks that can ignite nearby flammable material, leading to a house fire. Since it’s difficult to inspect electrical wires without the right tools, it’s important to call in some help from Putnam Mechanical if you suspect that this is what’s causing the issue.

Bad Circuit Breaker

All of your home’s wiring is routed through various circuit breakers that trip if a sudden surge is detected. These breakers help protect you from electrocution and prevent damage to your home by stopping the flow of electricity if something goes wrong. However, just like any other electrical component, the individual breakers can wear out over time.

As the electrical contacts lose their conductivity, it can reduce the amount of electricity that’s able to flow through, resulting in flickering lightbulbs. It’s important to have a malfunctioning breaker replaced as quickly as possible to ensure that you will be protected in the event of an emergency.

We Take Your Safety Seriously

At Putnam Mechanical, we understand just how dangerous electricity can be. That’s why we take your safety seriously when working on a project in your home. Whether we’re installing a new light fixture, repairing your electrical panel, or performing one of our other services, including the installation, repair, and maintenance of HVAC systems, you can be sure that your safety is our top priority. This commitment has earned us an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and countless five-star customer reviews. To learn more about what to do about flickering lights, contact us at Putnam Mechanical today.

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