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Electrical Gremlins And Old Homes


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Electrical Gremlins And Old Homes

When I bought an old house because I fell in love with the charm, I was completely unprepared for some of the issues that come along with homes of that age. One of the biggest surprises to me was the electrical issues I experienced. Everything from having to unplug everything in the kitchen to use a compressor in the garage to tripped breakers from a single air conditioner left me frustrated and confused. I called an electrician and learned a lot during his inspection. If you are thinking about buying an old house, this blog is for you. I hope that my knowledge and first-hand experience can help you avoid some of the disasters that I faced.

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Homeowner Guide To Troubleshooting Flickering Light Problems

Lightbulb flickering is annoying and is one of the most common reasons people call electricians. However, despite the annoyance factor, a flickering lightbulb is rarely a serious problem requiring a professional electrical repair.

Lights flicker when they have one of these four problems:

  1. a loose or faulty light bulb
  2. malfunctioning light fixture wiring
  3. a faulty wall switch
  4. electrical wiring problems

Here is some troubleshooting information on each of these issues:

Troubleshooting Loose or Faulty Lightbulbs

Most flickering lights are caused by a dying bulb or one that wasn't adequately tightened when installed. So, the best place to start troubleshooting is always with the bulb itself. 

Turn off the light fixture. If the bulb is hot, then let it cool off to avoid burning your hand.

Once cool, see if the bulb is loose in the socket. If it is loose, then tightening it will stop the flickering.

If the bulb is not loose, then suspect the bulb's filament or LED is failing and put a different bulb into the socket. Turn the fixture back on and see if the new bulb flickers.

If the new bulb does not flicker, then the problem was the old lightbulb and it should be thrown out.

If the new bulb flickers, then the problem is with the light fixture, wall switch, or home wiring. The bulb is fine and can be put back into the fixture.

Light Fixture and Wall Switch Wiring Problems

If the light fixture with the flickering problem is hardwired into your home, then this is likely where you should call a licensed local electrician.

An electrician will use an electrical current tester to evaluate if the wall switch, light fixture, and wiring in the wall have current passing through them. Where the current fails is the problem and they can either run new wiring or fix whatever is causing the connection problem.

If you have a table lamp or light fixture you plug into the wall, then it will need new wiring. You can purchase a DIY lamp rewiring kit at a hardware store or you can have an electrician do it for you.

Home Wiring Problems

Lastly, it is unlikely your light is flickering because of a home wiring problem. However, if you have multiple lights flickering at the same time, smell burning smells you can't identify the cause of, or if you hear buzzing and can't identify its source, then calling an electrician ASAP is advised. Your home may have a dangerous wiring problem.

For more information, contact an electrician in your area.