Flickering Lights: Perfect Ambiance or Fire Hazard?

Lights flicker and dim, creating ominous shadows on the wall. Have you been putting off fixing your flickering lights because it creates the perfect haunted house vibe for Halloween? While those lights are certainly creepy, you never want to ignore electrical problems in your home, as they might create a fire hazard.

Flickering lights in particular are indicative of a dangerous electrical issue, such as a loose circuit connection, overheated wiring, splices coming apart, a fried fixture, a failing breaker switch, and an overloaded circuit.

Maybe the previous home owners’ ghosts are trying to scare you away? Some spirits make themselves known by playing with the home’s electrical circuit. They don’t think that there is enough room for two families. In that case, maybe you should call the Ghostbusters and not Universal Home Experts.

But in all seriousness, if you have an issue with malfunctioning electrical devices/circuits, call a professional to diagnose the problem. Although some problems can be fixed yourself, most electrical disturbances are indicative of a more complex electrical issue and require the service of a professional electrician, who goes through almost as much training as a doctor in order to safely handle electricity.

To figure out if you have ghosts or an genuine electrical problem, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the bulb completely screwed into the socket? If the bulb is about to burn out or is not screwed into the fixture correctly, try replacing the bulb to see if that fixes the problem. make sure you turn the light off and allow the bulb to cool before unscrewing it.

2. Do you have a dimmer switch and is it on its lowest setting? When you have a dimmer switch installed, you need to make sure that the light bulbs that are attached to the switch are dim-able. Standard compact flourescent bulbs won’t work with a dimmer switch. If you have the wrong bulb installed, then the lights might flicker if you also have the dimmer on a lower setting. To fix this: install dim-able CFL (compact flourescent lights) bulbs or make sure your dimmer switch is on its highest setting. Double-check the wattage of the bulb and make sure that it fits the fixture’s specifications.

3. Does the light flicker when you touch the switch? It is possible that your fixture switch is wearing out and needs repair or replacement. Check to see if your lights start flickering when you jiggle the light switch. If the switch turns out to be the thing inducing the flicker, call Universal Home Experts to replace the switch and resolve the flicker.

4. Do your lights dim or flicker when you turn on large appliances? If your lights jump when you plug in the vacuum, you may have an overloaded circuit. This is probably the most likely cause of dimming and flickering lights. Try plugging in large appliances like refrigerators to their own 240 V circuit. Additionally, if you live in near a lot of neighbors, your lights might flicker if your neighbors begin overloading their circuits. This is something that is out of your control, since you are sharing the local transformer with at least a couple other neighbors.
5. Do you smell burning plastic? – If you ever smell burning plastic, call a professional electrician immediately and turn the electricity off to that area of the house. This involves switching the breaker switch to the off position, or shutting off the main electric switch. Burning plastic means that your wiring is damaged and is a strong sign that there are other electrical complications that could put your home in danger.

Often in older homes where wiring has been fastened or stapled too tightly, the electricity flowing though the wiring can begin to arc with the metal staple. Over time this can cause extreme heating and a breakdown in the insulation of the wiring. To learn more about arc-fault breakers, click here.

While you may be able to fix your flickering light problem by simply checking to make sure the bulb is screwed in properly or matches that specifications of the fixture, when it comes to more complicated panel or breaker box issues, call in a professional electrician. If you do not know what you are doing, call the certified electricians at Universal Home Experts.

Universal Home Experts wishes everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

We are your trusted choice for local electrician or HVAC installation and repair in Houston and the surrounding areas. If you have any electrical problems, call the professionals at Universal Home Experts —(713) 364-0226.

Also, if you haven’t scheduled your annual heating tune-up, don’t forget to do so before the winter weather hits.