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Flickering Light Bulbs

Amruta Deshpande Nov 5, 2018
Has your light bulb been acting funny lately? Is it flashing or flickering too much? There are several reasons for this, all of which, and their solutions, have been discussed here.
Flickering lights can be extremely annoying, especially when you are trying hard to focus on that little chapter of your favorite book. It becomes hard to concentrate when the light bulb is acting funny on you. However, there exist simple and logical reasons behind the flickering of lights and the bulbs acting weird.
It can be a simple problem caused by the fluctuation in voltage or can be a sign of some serious electrical problem. You need to understand the right cause for the flickering of your light bulb in order to deal with it. Let us see some causes of flickering light bulb problems and ways to fix them.

Problems and Solutions to a Flickering Light Bulb


This is the biggest reason why the lifespan of a light bulb deteriorates. When a current passes through the bulb, the filament produces both light and heat.
Over time, the heat causes the contacts and the wire insulation to harden and become brittle. There isn't much you can do in this case, except replacing the bulb and the insulation that it burned. It is true that CFL bulbs radiate less heat that incandescent bulbs, which makes installation easy and helps prolong the life of the adjacent wiring.

Loose Connection

Another common cause of flickering bulbs is the loose connection between the bulbs and the sockets. Sometimes, due to several reasons, point of contact can be disengaged for a moment, causing a few intermittent flickers. Simple vibrations can cause disconnection of the wires that are not joined properly. This is a simple problem and can be fixed easily.
Check if the light bulbs loosely fit in the socket. Removing the bulb from the socket and refitting it tighter can solve the flickering problem in most cases.

Bad Bulb

If the problem still persists after tightening the connection, there could be something wrong with the bulb. A bulb usually flickers when it is about to burn out. If the new light bulb flickers, the problem must be associated with the power cord or the socket.

Faulty Wiring

Inspect the electrical cord and the plug carefully. Check the electrical wires attached to the outlets for any signs of wear and tear. If you see any breaks or worn areas on the cord, it needs to be replaced. But, do not attempt to replace the cords on your own. Call for an electrician who is aware of the proper procedure and electrical safety precautions.

Faulty Socket or Outlet

Check if the socket or the electrical outlet is functioning properly. You could do this by plugging another appliance into the same outlet. If you find it faulty, get it fixed by an electrician. Also check the circuit properly. If it is overloaded, plug the light bulb in another outlet.
If there are more than one light bulbs in the same light fixture, and the rest are working fine with only one bulb flickering, then the problem is most likely a defective socket or a faulty light bulb.

Contact Points

Every socket has a piece of brass at the bottom, that makes contact with the base of the light bulb. Sometimes, if this brass piece is jammed in, it fails to make proper contact. Turn off the light switch and unplug the light bulb. Then, using needle-nose pliers, pull the brass piece outwards. Plug the bulb in and see if the problem is solved.
Just remember that even if the contact works, this is just a temporary solution. Chances are, the contact will sink in again and might fail to pop out, repeating the problem. Your best bet would be to change the contact point.

Power Supply

A fluctuating or low power supply may be another reason for flickering bulbs. If the bulb receives intermittent electrical supply, it is likely to flash on and off. Check if the other appliances are receiving full power, when the light bulbs flicker.


One of the few reasons for an incandescent bulb to be better than a CFL bulb is when there are sensors in use. If you have a motion-detector sensor installed that acts as a light switch for a room, then chances are CFL lights won't work with them. The flickering in this case will be a constant on/off state of the bulb.
This is mostly because the CFL lamp requires some time (a few quick seconds) to become fully illuminated, and the sensor's pattern might keep interrupting it. Another problem here is that constant switching by the sensor will reduce the life of the lamp, which means it will burn out quicker than incandescent lamps.
The most prudent way to go about this problem is to first buy a new bulb, preferably a CFL, and replace the old one with it.
If the problem still persists, then call an electrician. It is indeed risky to handle the circuitry alone if you don't know what you're doing. You'll risk starting a fire due to a short circuit, causing damage to the bulb's surroundings.