Receive Our Blog via E- Mail

Your email:

Meet The Editor

Darrell Boyd - Owner of Mister Sparky in Olympia, WA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darrell Boyd - Owner of Mister Sparky of WA.

Darrell is a Master Electrician license holder here in WA State and has been in the electrical field for over 25 years. He is extremely passionate about the electrical field and serving the local community. Educating people through this blog is just one of the ways he enjoys reaching out and sharing his knowledge. Electrical Safety in the home and making sure each home Mister Sparky enters is safer then when they got there is truly a belief and standard by which he leads Mister Sparky. Born in Tacoma, WA and raised in Olympia He loves the Greater Puget Sound Area and all it offers. Beyond electrical and Mister Sparky Darrell is also a husband of 28 years to his wonderful wife Yolanda and dad of 2 children Brett & Kaitlyn. When there is a spare minute you may find him watching and following his favorite sports teams The Seattle Mariners & The Seattle Seahawks or quite possibly on a quiet river fishing for trout and enjoying this great state. If you have a question or topic you would like to have Darrell write about please feel to reach out to him or contact him anytime at darrell@mistersparkyofwa.com

 

 

 

Contact Us 

(253) 238-1275 Tacoma

(360) 464-9958 Olympia

(877) 465-3708 Toll Free

Save $200 On A ElectricalPanel Upgrade/R  

$50.00 Off AnyElectrical Work

Follow Me

We're Here to Help....Electrical Safety and Creative New Electrical Products for your home!

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Why Do My Lights Flicker? Electrical Contractor Explains!

 

Why Do My Lights Flicker?

 


Mister SparkySometimes there can be nothing more annoying than having your lights flicker or dim throughout the day or night. What’s causing them to flicker and or dim may not be such an easy answer. However, Here are a couple of questions you want to ask or observe first to get to a possible resolution.

 

Questions to Answer

1.)  When do my lights flicker? Only when a large appliance kicks on such as a heat pump or A/C unit or do they flicker any time of day or night without anything kicking on and or running. Try as best you can to observe what you have on and if it’s related to you’re A/C or Heat Pump kicking on.

2.)  Is it all the lights that are currently on in the house that seems to flicker or the same light or sets of lights that always flicker? Again, try to notice and make note of which lights, or is it all lights that are on when the flicker occurs.

3.)    How often does the flicker occur? Again, try to make note of the same things as above.

 

Let’s take a look at each situation one by one and why this may be occurring.


Same Light or Lights Flicker in the same general area and NOT throughout the entire home:

This problem can occur from simply having bad light bulbs to a bad connection between the light bulb and the light fixture socket to more complex troubleshooting issues like a loose wire in that particular circuit. A complete circuit diagnosis should be performed in this case to find the loose hot or neutral conductor causing the issue. These can be complex troubleshooting issues for the average homeowner as a single circuit in your home may have 30-50 connections to inspect and evaluate. The loose connection could be in a receptacle, a switch, a light, a j-box, or at the main electrical panel.  Loose connections are a serious issue and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Lights throughout the house and or nearly half of the Lights in the house Flicker:

If you are noticing random lights flickering and or sometimes nearly dimming and it’s throughout the house or a large part of the house and you are sure it’s not a large appliance kicking on causing the problem then make sure you have an electrician look at your main electrical service. If it’s not the same circuit always flickering it’s a sign that you could have loose service conductors in your main electrical panel or in your meter base. Again, this could be a very serious issue so contact your local electrician asap to address this issue for you. Your service conductors heat up and cool down with use all day every day 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. Over time this can cause the service conductors to loosen up and as they loosen up they create even more heat. Eventually this can cause the service conductors to burn up lugs on your main breaker, or the service conductors themselves to burn up, to even more serious issues. The key is to put an electrician’s eye on this for you and in the future make sure you have an electrical maintenance plan in place to help prevent this issue from ever occurring.      

Lights Flicker When a Large Appliance (Outdoor A/C or Heat Pump) kick on:

If your lights flicker every time for that split second when your outdoor A/C unit or Heat Pump kicks on and you’re fairly certain you have the flicker tied to that then here is what we have found. First off, it’s a common problem with large outdoor units to cause this. Why? They can draw up to 100+ Amps for that millisecond that they start up (otherwise known as locked rotor amps) most homes only have a 200Amp main electrical service so imagine needing half of your homes electrical power just to start that outdoor unit. Locked Rotor Amps by definition is the amount of electrical energy required to start the motor. This required energy is much greater than the Full Load Amps or Running Amps because of the required energy needed to not only start the motor but provide this transferred power to the outdoor unit’s motor to operate the designed work function. Once it’s up and running the require energy or amp draw goes way down. Again, all this occurs in milliseconds upon starting. Ok, let’s get past the technical stuff….. what can you do about it? Here is the order in which I would go about resolving this problem.

a.)   Contact your local electrician and or (the person who wired your outdoor unit if known) and just make sure they have the outdoor unit wired to the max ampacity and that the wire size and fusing is correct and all connections are tight. Have them look in the main electrical panel and if necessary the meter base to make sure all electrical connections are tight and that we don’t have loose service conductors.  It’s always good to just make sure the basics are right to begin with. If all that is good then my next step is….. 

b.)   Contact your local HVAC contractor or again (the person who installed it, if known) and see if they have a soft start kit that they can install on the outdoor unit. This doesn’t always work but it can definitely help as it will try and lessen the large amount of current required all at once to start that motor. You may already have one on the outdoor unit as a lot of the newer models these days have them however it’s worth the call to at least ask regarding your particular unit. If you have a soft start kit and you electrical checks out ok then here is the likely culprit. 

c.)   If all the above is good and you are still experiencing light flicker throughout the home when the outdoor unit kicks on then the problem probably lies between your meter base and the transformer that feeds your home power. The wire size feeding your home may be too small for your homes load and or more likely the transformer feeding your home may be too small. Contact your local utility company to look into this for you. Most will look into this at no charge to make sure you are getting quality power to your home.

 
Feel free to leave any comments and to hit our G+1 button at the top of this article if you thought this was helpful. Have other topics you would like information on? Let us know, we enjoy providing that little extra help that goes a long ways!

Comments

My down lights flicker for about 5 seconds every night at exactly 10pm and then 11pm. Not every light. Do we know what it might be? 
Posted @ Tuesday, January 22, 2013 2:54 AM by Chris
Chris my recessed lights in living room do the same thing at about 10:30 they are led bulbs on a dimmer switch all 6 do it simultaneously. What may be the problem?
Posted @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:51 PM by Robert McNitt
Lights flicker throughout the house when Washer is on.Had it looked at,could not find anything in the panel box
Posted @ Sunday, March 31, 2013 9:17 PM by Leighton McCrary
Everytime the ac turns on it clicks and the light flickers one time.When I turn on the light in one room the light flicks none stop so I just leave it off.
Posted @ Wednesday, May 01, 2013 12:47 PM by Juanita Arambula
Our lights flicker (get brighter than normal) all over the house, all night long whenever they're on. Its been in the last few months and seems to get worse. We had the PUD out and they said all was good on their end. Then we had electrician over who thoroughly went thru the panel and made some tightening adjustments and it is still the same? Thanks for your help...
Posted @ Friday, May 10, 2013 9:57 PM by Doug
We had some of these flickering problems at our real office that were finally resolved by the building owner bringing in another "leg" of power. But now I am having similar problems at my home office. It seemed to start in the office upstairs but now all the lights in the house flicker from time-to-time and I can't seem to locate the problem. Why would it get worse and flair up all of a sudden? I haven't changed anything or added any electrical devices.
Posted @ Sunday, May 26, 2013 10:18 PM by George Mulak
My recessed led lights in the den just start blinking crazily like you are at a disco nightclub! What do you think the problem is?
Posted @ Tuesday, June 04, 2013 7:39 PM by Jimmy
I have a problem. Yesterday, which would have been the 13th of June 2013, the electricity all of a sudden got dim and would kind of flicker faintly in all the rooms of the double wide trailer house except for the living room and a bedroom that is right next to the living room. The power in both of those rooms seem to not have any problems at all. It is so bad that my fridge is starting to thaw!!!. Please, I need any assistance ASAP! Thank you very much for your help.
Posted @ Friday, June 14, 2013 10:20 PM by James Dillon
We are renavating an older home and have replaced most of the old wiring but were advised that a lot of the old wiring looked great and no need to replace it. We now have lights flickering all the time. I was just typing this message when one of the two refrigerators in our home came on and the lights flickered all over the house. Any advise??
Posted @ Sunday, June 30, 2013 4:34 AM by Brenda Jackson
The flicker could be from either a loose wiring connection or an intermittent load elsewhere in the building. While a loose wire at the breaker could be causing the problem, it could as likely be at a switch or any intervening junction box between the circuit breaker and the lights in question.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 30, 2013 10:04 AM by Lahav Group
Tieing 3 different neutral wires together from 3 different circuit breakers will this cause lites to dim. When i plug a hair dryer into the outlets the lites flicker and then when i turn it on first spped the lite gets a little brighter 2nd speed a little more brighter and on high speed the lites reach their full brightness. Do you think bundling neutral wires together in old panel box can be the problem. thx
Posted @ Thursday, August 15, 2013 12:05 PM by wayne shipp
Wayne: You can have 3 same size neutrals under the same neutral bar screw hole. You cannot mix them with grounds or different size wire under the same screw. Some panels only want 2 of same size under each screw. 
You should never tie 2 circuits neutrals together. They must stay circuit independent along with it's ground and black hot wire. 
Each circuit on it's own.
Posted @ Friday, August 16, 2013 10:22 PM by JB
Wayne, Please allow me to clarify JB a bit as he was maybe a little confusing in his explanation. You do NOT want 3 neutral wires under the same lug on any neutral bar in any electrical panel. The electrical code states clearly that you can have only one neutral under any one lug. The reason being that that your neutral can carry current and having 2 or more under the same lug can cause an air gap or space and therefore cause an arc which will lead to heat which will lead to alot more expansion and contraction of that conductor causing anything from light flickering to a lost neutral. You want one neutral under one lug so you can have equal and tight pressure on that conductor. With the bare copper ground wires you don't have current flowing through them therefore you can usually twist them together and put a couple under one lug. You wont have the heat or expansion and contraction from them as you would the neutral conductor. I hope that helps and please consult a local electrician to make these repairs for you. These can be very costly repairs down the road if not taken care of asap. To You and Your Homes Safety!  
 
Darrell R Boyd
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 5:02 PM by Darrell Boyd
Lights flickering with LED lamps.... I just want to address some of the comments regarding lights flickering with LED lamps. LED lamps are great lamps and a great step in improving the energy efficiency of your home. Alot of these lamps say they are dimmable and to a point alot of them are. Some of the LED lamp flickering can be from not using the correct dimmer. Make sure you are using a LED approved dimmer and that should really help cut down on the disco lighting your LED's are producing! If they are flickering alot and they are not on a dimmer then you may have anything from bad lamps, poor quality lamps, loose electrical connections, double tapped neutrals in the electrical panel, to a bad switch. Please have a qualified electrician evaluate that for you so you too can remove the disco light show from your home as well. To you and your homes safety - Darrell R Boyd
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 5:28 PM by Darrell Boyd
Last December, we had a new York furnace installed. It worked very well and we have had no lights dim when it activates. In June of this year, we had a capacitor and contactor replaced on an old Comfortmaker AC unit. We began to notice the house lights dim when the AC compressor and fan started up. Just last week we had the old AC unit replaced with a new York AC unit. However, the dimming houselights still happen when the AC unit compressor starts up. Any ideas?
Posted @ Sunday, September 01, 2013 10:36 PM by Hank
this same set of lights in my living room flickers very annoyingly and i tried to solve the problem by buying a new box of bulbs, had it replaced, and guess what it wasn't the problem. i raged so hard i think i broke a chair
Posted @ Saturday, September 28, 2013 1:52 AM by some guy
my tv and lights blink off and on in a certain section of my home, not the entire house. I live in a condo and asked my upstairs neighbor if she had any issues. she did not. do I need an electrician or the electric company? HELP, PLEASE! 
Thanks
Posted @ Sunday, September 29, 2013 10:00 AM by linda
We had this problem this weekend. We called our power company. They came out and found that one of our 120 lines coming into the house was bad and the neutral was bad. It was an equipment failure on their part. Thank goodness for surge protectors. When they brought it all back up, the surge protectors absorbed the surge and protected our expensive things. Now we have to replace the surge protectors. Better that than replacing TVs and computers.
Posted @ Monday, October 07, 2013 8:22 AM by Tammy
outlet in my kitchen has a night on 24/7 why does the night light flicker all day long.
Posted @ Saturday, October 12, 2013 8:24 PM by tony del percio
This is interesting! I enjoyed reading your great post.Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have shared here.
Posted @ Friday, October 18, 2013 9:05 AM by Leather Repairs Manchester
My lights started flickering about 2 weeks ago and we realized that the same thing had happened last year. We had an electrician come out, but he found nothing wrong. Its only one side of the house and no major appliances are on when this happens. In fact the only thing we've noticed is that it's around the same time as last year. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
Posted @ Wednesday, November 06, 2013 8:40 AM by Maria
We live in an old house with old wiring. We have 2 lights in our bathroom on the same switch. They will flicker and then stop as something is apparently warming up and expanding. Would the switch be the first place to consider? There are only two wires coming into it. Old wires. But no other lights in the house do this. I'm not sure how to replace the switch, It's done this for several yrs. and used to pop light bulbs. We have two 60watt bulbs on this switch which is a cheap one put in 25+ yrs. ago with a small remodel. small wires are stuck into the back and are wire nutted to the old wires. Hoping it's the switch. What's your best idea on where to start?
Posted @ Saturday, November 09, 2013 8:52 AM by Steve Hall
I had a new furnace installed, and the next day one of my bedrooms and my dinning room now has no electrical power. Could the installation of the new furnace and them wiring the furnace switch to the new furnace have caused a problem in these two rooms?
Posted @ Saturday, December 07, 2013 10:31 AM by Elma Jackson
eleveille@comcast.net
Posted @ Wednesday, December 11, 2013 5:53 PM by eleveille@comcast.net
since changing two light/ceiling fan fixtures(kitchen and bedroom)whenever the washer/dryer is running the lights thruout the house flicker and dim the entire time the laundry is going? is this an electrical fire hazzard? Our neighbor an electrician checked it out tightened a few things and found no other problem. Since tightening has changed nothing wondering what it could be.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 11, 2013 6:55 PM by nancy
Our lights flicker in same half of house a lot , and loose power for a second . Neighbor next door has same problem except her power sometimes goes out for few minutes ..Detroit Edison came out and said we are not on same line ..they cannot figure out problem . Any ideas ?
Posted @ Monday, January 13, 2014 4:08 AM by Chris
We moved into an apartment 2 months ago that was 11 years old. 
Every light flickers in the apartment even lights plugged into sockets for locker lights. 
I've had the electrical company out to check and they said all was ok on their end. 
The management company checked too and could find nothing. 
We have only the standard kitchen appliances and nothing that would use a huge amount of power. 
I've studied this all over and timed it to 2 minutes all flicker for 2 minutes and stop flickering for 2 minutes constantly all day every day. 
I don't mind paying an electrician to call to me if he could rectify problem but of not i will be paying dead money. 
Please help me as I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 
Thanks 
Michael.
Posted @ Monday, March 03, 2014 8:42 PM by Michael Keogh
try changing the bulbs, cheap bulbs will cause this problem not enough metal to sock contact.
Posted @ Friday, March 14, 2014 7:51 PM by Two left feet
Lights flicker and dim greatly when I plug in a vacuum on upper level of my home. Same lights upstairs and downstairs in cluding a chandelor . yesterday circuit breaker triggered and upstairs lights and basement lights wouldn't work. I reset breaker and whole breaker when I reset switch moved. The box that the switch rests in to flick / reset. I saw sparks and heard arcking /sizzlin noise. The entire circuit breaker panel is new as of last year. Could this be fire hazard even if circuit breakers are triggering It still doesn't explain why so many lights repeatedly , flicker and dim severely. Any help would be appreciated. I have kids ,smoke alarms,but I sense something is wrong. Or can certain lights continually flicker and dim if not whole house.  
Thanks 
David
Posted @ Thursday, April 03, 2014 6:46 PM by David Bilkey
A friend of mine just put two new reach in coolers side buy side in his package store for about tree months they worked fine except the last cooler all six tube type led lights started blinking intermittenly,the coolers are wired together in one circuit, I checked wiring back to fuse box seems okay the lights have intergrated drivers. I was thinking one could be bad but all six blink at the same time, and they don`t blink at first, maybe ten minutes after you turn them on. 
This is a real bummer any help at all would be appreciated, he has called the company complaining about but they say sure will fix them and you never hear from them this was
Posted @ Sunday, April 13, 2014 10:18 PM by David Bieniek
Hey! nice article our company provides the services of Electrician in Knoxfield Just visit here: http://www.ansteeelectrical.com.au/
Posted @ Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:15 AM by Antee Electrical
Tonight i noticed tonight that the dinning room light (on a dimmer switch for years) was flickering as well as one of the lamps in the living room with a florescent bulb. Neither has happened before and as i said the d/r dimmer switch has been in the house for years with no previous trouble.
Posted @ Saturday, May 24, 2014 8:44 PM by Bill
When I turn my light on in the kitchen it will stay on for a few minutes then turn off. I have to tap the light switch a couple times and it will turn back on again. This happens in the bathroom also. I live in a one bedroom apartment. 
Posted @ Friday, June 20, 2014 4:58 AM by easyrider
Thus just started Sunday. My lights flicker all over. All the power seems to dim than come back strong. Like the fan slows down than picks up. I'm calling my landlord today ASAP, thinking it's a short or power surge. Ideas?
Posted @ Wednesday, July 30, 2014 6:46 AM by Shaunta
Post Comment
Name
 *
Email
 *
Website (optional)
Comment
 *

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics