All you want to do after a busy day is unwind with a great book. But there’s a problem – the bulb in the lamp starts to flicker. Should you ignore it? Move to another room? Put on a movie instead? All are viable options, but none solve the problem for good.

Flickering lights are annoying, sure. But are they really a big deal? Read on the learn the most common reasons for flickering lights and what you can do to stop them.

What Causes Lights to Flicker?

More often than not, a light flickers simply because the bulb itself is nearing the end of its life span. If this is the case, replacing the old bulb with a new one should do the trick. Lightbulbs can also loosen over time. You can try screwing the bulb in a little tighter to see if that solves the problem. There is a caveat to this, however: the loose or old bulb problem usually only applies to incandescent bulbs. If you’re dealing with an LED bulb, you’ll probably need to investigate the cause a little further.

Okay, so you’ve replaced your bulbs and the flickering continues. Now what?

Here are a few things that could be going on:

  • Loose wires and/or electrical connections

This is especially likely if you recently had electrical work done in your home and they failed to properly connect or secure all the wires. Call a licensed electrician to investigation, as such a condition can sometimes lead to an electrical fire.

  • Faulty fixtures

If the light fixture is old, broken, or has a cracked cord or loose switch, flickering may result. If you suspect this, try removing the bulb and replacing it with one you know works. If the flickering continues, it could be the fixture.

  • Incompatibility with LED light bulbs

Some fixtures may not operate correctly with LED bulbs. If you’re using LEDs and the fixture flickers, try changing back to a regular incandescent bulb. But the light switch itself may not agree with the use of LED bulbs. This is most often the case when using light switches that also have a dimmer controller.

  • Large motor-operated appliances

Lights may flicker momentarily when large motor-operated appliances are turned on. When you experience a flickering light, see what else is going on in the house. Did the AC unit start up? Did someone start the dishwasher or cord-connected vacuum cleaner? Momentary light flickers from starting powerful appliances or tools is usually not cause for concern.

  • Circuit overload

If your bathroom lights dim when you use your hair dryer, it might be time to toss the hair dryer or it could be too powerful for the circuit it’s on. To check this theory, plug the hair dryer into other outlets around the house. If flickering occurs, it’s time for a new hair dryer. If flickering is specific to the one outlet only, plug something else that runs on a similar number of amps into the outlet. All electrical appliances should have a label or marking with the rated voltage and amperage. If the same thing happens, it could be a circuit overload.

Aside from cases of loose electrical connections, the occasional flickering light is rarely imminently dangerous. However, if changing lightbulbs, replacing fixtures, or investing in new small appliances prove fruitless, contact Excel Electrical Technologies to investigate further and prevent a seemingly minor electrical problem from creating a potential disaster.