Why Are the Lights Flickering in My House?


Do you have lights in your house that are always mysteriously flickering?

Maybe they’re only in the kitchen or at the other end of the house? Maybe they only flicker when you turn on something else? Or maybe you just can’t see any rhyme or reason for the lights flickering and are starting to get headaches from it! If flickering lights have you flummoxed, it’s time to call your residential electrician for some answers and solutions.

While there could be any number of reasons for flickering lights in your home, and uncovering the reasons involves making note of the “symptoms” of the flickering. These are the three most common flickering lights symptoms and what they might mean:

1. Just One Light Flickers

If just one light is flickering, there is a good chance that the bulb itself has a problem that can be easily remedied. First, turn off power to that light and then unscrew the bulb and then re-install it. Often, when the bulb is not fully screwed into the threads in the socket, or is screwed in crookedly, it will flicker. It’s also possible that the bulb is reaching the end of its natural lifespan and will need to be replaced anyway.

If correctly installing the bulb doesn’t solve the flickering, there could be a problem with the wiring in the lamp or the switch or the outlet into which the lamp is plugged. Turn the lamp off, unplug it and then take it to a different outlet. Does this solve the problem? If so, then there may be a problem with the wiring of the outlet. If the flickering continues, there is most likely a problem with the lamp. In either case, do not try to fix this yourself to avoid electrical shock—call Root Electric and we’ll safely find and fix the problem for you.

2. Lights that Flicker When You Turn Them On, Then Fully Illuminate

This is entirely normal behavior for fluorescent bulbs, tubes and the new, energy-saving CFLs. Usually, it takes a few moments after switching them on to reach their full illumination, and along the way, there may be some flickering. If the flickering does not die down and continues without the bulb reaching its full brightness—or if this is an incandescent bulb that is doing this, follow the same steps in scenario one:

  1. Unscrew and then reinstall the bulb, correctly threading it.
  2. Try plugging the lamp into a different outlet.
  3. If problems persist, call our residential electricians for help.

3. All the Lights Flicker and Keep Flickering!

It might be normal for this to happen when there is a bad thunderstorm barreling through the area (in which case, you might want to install whole house surge protection). But if you have widespread flickering lights throughout your home, this is a symptom of a much bigger problem. It can signal that the voltage to your electrical system is fluctuating, which can cause damage to the wiring and all the electronics you have plugged into your system around the house. If you have this situation, you absolutely need to call us for help—do not try to solve this problem alone as there is a high danger of electrical fire or shock hazard without the proper expertise and equipment.

If you ever have any problems with or questions about your home’s electrical system, please contact Root Electric at (703) 494-3989 for assistance.


Satisfaction / Safety First Since 1986

Bill Root

About the author

During my tenure at Root Electric, I lead the transition of Root Electric from a primarily sub-contracting based business model to a prime-contracting based business model. Accomplishments have been made by developing a team based approach to researching and implementing a service-specific client management system.

My goals for the next five years are to fine tune Root Electric's brand strategy and to diversify its scope of services, while remaining true to the discipline of electrical work.