Why are the Lights Flickering in My House?

Flickering lights have a few different causes, and it’s important to fix them as soon as possible to keep your home safe.
Written by Payton Ternus
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Flickering lights in your home can be traced to several causes, including an overloaded circuit and loose wiring. You can fix some causes of flickering lights yourself, but you’ll need to call an expert for more complicated issues.
Most homeowners notice lights flickering at some point, and many just brush the issue off as a fluke. However, you should take flickering lights seriously, as they can be a warning sign of more severe issues.
Fixing flickering lights can prevent some serious damage to your home, just as the right
home insurance
can protect it from many perils. Here, insurance broker
has everything you need to know about why lights are flickering in your home and how to fix the issue.
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Why are lights flickering in my house?

It’s not unusual for lights to flicker in a house, particularly in older homes. A variety of factors can cause flickering lights, and this can be an early warning sign of more serious problems. Let’s take a closer look at the main causes of flickering lights and how to fix them.

Overloaded circuits

Homes are built to withstand a certain amount of electrical voltage. Some of them, especially older homes, may not be able to handle the demands of many modern appliances at once. 
Your lights may start to flicker or blink on and off when you turn on large appliances, such as a washing machine or an air conditioner. 
If this is the case, you typically don’t need to worry. However, if it continues to happen over an extended period, you should call an expert to inspect your home. Your home may require a dedicated circuit or a larger electrical supply for the extra voltage you need.

Loose light bulb connection

Some isolated flickering lights are simply caused by a loose lightbulb. This can also occur in lamps or other lighting fixtures, so check for any loose fitting electrical outlets or bent metal prongs
Fixing a loose light bulb connection is easy with these steps:
  • Turn off the light
  • Allow light bulb to cool down completely
  • Unscrew light bulb from the socket
  • Screw in original light bulb or a new one if needed

Loose wiring

Loose, damaged, or outdated electrical wiring can cause lights to flicker—and this is a major fire hazard. Moreover, this problem can be difficult to identify since electrical wiring is hidden away in the walls of your home. 
You may be at risk if your home’s lights began flickering at one point and have worsened over time.
Hiring a professional is the best way to fix the problems behind flickering lights. The electrician can inspect loose service conductors and wiring, worn connectors, outdated wiring, and other problems. 
Having someone inspect your home isn’t always the cheapest, but it can save you and your home from a dangerous electrical fire. 
Key Takeaway Even if it’s a minor issue with an easy fix, make sure you take care of the cause of flickering lights as soon as you’re aware of it to reduce your risk of an electrical fire.

Incorrect light bulb

Another simple cause of flickering home lights is a mismatched socket and lightbulb
This is commonly seen in lights that use dimmer switches because LED light bulbs are not compatible with dimmers.
This issue is usually not dangerous, but it can be annoying to deal with. Luckily, the solution is easy: switch out the light bulb for one that is compatible with the fixture switch. 

Faulty socket, switch, or breaker

Lights can start to flicker if the light switch fails at the switch box. It can seem like an obvious problem if you are flipping the switch on and off yourself, but sometimes it is not easily noticed. 
You’ll need to call a professional to fix a failed light switch, obsolete circuit breaker, or a wall socket gone bad. Even if you have a multimeter you can check things yourself, but it’s best to let the professionals handle repairs. 

Changes in voltage

As discussed above, large appliances can cause temporary voltage drops to your lightbulbs, resulting in flickering lights. This can occasionally occur even in well-designed electrical systems and is usually nothing to worry about.
However, if your lights keep flickering even after your appliances are turned off, then there could be a bigger problem. An overloaded circuit may be to blame and is a potential indicator of a dangerous issue. Call an expert to take a look if you’re ever unsure.

Does home insurance cover electrical issues?

If your home’s electrical system was damaged by or has issues resulting from a
covered peril
, then it should be covered by your home insurance. Since wiring is hidden within the home’s structure, it can be covered by the dwelling coverage of your homeowners policy.
Your homeowners insurance policy will not cover damages or issues with your electrical system due to:
  • Wear and tear
  • Neglect or lack of maintenance
  • Out-of-date wiring
Your insurance coverage will also depend on the age of your home and the wiring used. Knob and tube wiring was installed in homes from 1850-1940, aluminum and cloth wiring was used from 1940-1970, and modern wiring has been used from 1970 to now (because it’s less prone to causing electrical fires). 
Insurance companies likely will not cover knob and tube or aluminum and cloth wiring systems. If the electrical wiring in a home has not been updated for at least forty years, it’s common for providers to deny coverage.

How to find affordable homeowners insurance

Even if wear and tear to old wiring isn’t covered, the right homeowners insurance policy can protect your home from many other sudden perils.
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Flickering lights can be caused by something as simple as an incompatible light bulb or more hazardous issues like faulty wiring. 
To be safe, have an expert come take a look and identify the cause of your flickering.
You can prevent flickering lights by staying on top of routine maintenance for your home’s electrical system, making sure you have a modern wiring system, and only using bulbs compatible with your light fixtures.
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