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Do You Know Why Your Lights Are Flickering?

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Do You Know Why Your Lights Are Flickering?

Seeing your lights flicker at times is quite annoying and can even make you very frustrated. There are also times when the light stays dim throughout the day or night. Flickering lights do not always mean a serious problem with the electrical system. However, it is important that you note which lights flicker and understand how they flicker.


Flickering light is a very common issue in homes and have a number of explanations. In order to get a better idea of how to address this issue, you can tailor your solution to the specific situation. Here are some questions which you can ask yourself:

• When do the lights flicker? Do they flicker at any time of the day or when only you switch on a large appliance? Observe closely and see whether it has got to do something with your AC or heat pump.

• Do all lights flicker or a set of lights that always flicker. Again, notice keenly and make a note of the lights that are flickering.

• How often do your lights flicker?

One same light or a few lights flickering in one area

The main reason for this problem could be an issue in light bulbs you have installed or a faulty connection between the light bulbs and the light fixture socket. Sometimes, the situation is a bit complex when there is a loose wire in a particular circuit. In such cases, a complete diagnosis of the circuit is mandatory so that the problem can be identified.

Once the loose neutral or hot conductor is found, the issue can easily be sorted out. Identifying the loose circuit in your home is quite tricky because there is a chance that you have almost thirty to fifty connections under one circuit. The loose connections can be in a light, a switch, a j-box, a receptacle or even at the main electrical panel. On the whole, loose connections are a serious problem and must be addressed as soon as possible.

Lights of the entire house or more than half of the lights flicker

If you see that lights of your entire house flicker randomly even when a large appliance like AC is not working, then you need to seek an electrician’s help. Even if you see your lights getting dim frequently, you must address this issue at your earliest. The electrician will be in a position to check your main electrical service. If it is not the same circuit that flickers, it clearly means that there are lose service conductors in the meter base or in the main electrical panel. This is a very critical issue, and you must not ignore this.

The service conductors tend to heat up and then cool down as people consume electricity in their homes. They tend to loosen up over the period of time and emit more heat when they are loose. Mere ignorance on your part can make the conductors burn and can also affect your main breaker. The key is to seek professional electrician’s help as soon as possible.

Lights flicker when a heavy appliance is switched on

It is very common to see people experiencing their home lights flicker for a split second when they switch on their AC. Generally most of the homes have 200Amp main electrical service and most of the large appliance takes 100+ Amps when they start up (known as Locked Rotor Amps). Hence, more than half your complete electrical power is needed to start the outdoor unit. Locked Rotor Amps happens to be much greater than the Running Amps or the Full Load Amps. If you are experiencing this problem, here is what you need to do:

• Contact your local electrician right away. You can also call the person who wired your outdoor unit. Ask them to check whether the outdoor unit is wired to the maximum ampacity or not. Wire size and fuse must also be checked and all the connections must be secured properly. Once you are sure that the basics are correct, you can move on to the next step.

• Contact the person who installed the unit or your local HVAC contractor. Ask them if they have a soft start kit that can be installed on the outdoor unit. This does not always work but it can sort the issue to some extent. The soft start kit cushions the large amount of current required by the appliance to start the motor. The new models of air conditioners and heat pumps have these already installed. However, it is always better to call the professional and ask them about a particular unit.

• If you have a soft kit installed and still experience the same issue then the problem is in your meter base and of course the transformer that feeds your home power. There is a chance that the transformer feeding your home is small or wire size feeding your home is small. In this case, you need to contact your local utility company to get the matter checked.

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