How to Fix That One Light in Your House That's Always Flickering and Driving You Crazy

Having a light that constantly flickers in your home can be extremely annoying and frustrating. But before you break down and replace the entire fixture, there are several easy fixes you can try to resolve a flickering light. As a homeowner who has dealt with my fair share of problematic lights, I've learned a few helpful troubleshooting tips.

Diagnosing the Cause

The first step is identifying why your light is flickering. There are a few common culprits:

Loose Lightbulb

Make sure the lightbulb is screwed in fully and securely. Over time, lightbulb bases can loosen due to heat expansion and contraction. Try unscrewing the lightbulb and then screwing it back in tightly.

Worn Out Lightbulb

Lightbulbs eventually burn out and need to be replaced. As bulbs near the end of their lifespan, you may notice flickering, dimming, or other odd behavior. Switching out the lightbulb for a new one of the same type may stop the flickering.

Faulty Socket

If tightening or replacing the bulb doesn't help, the problem could be a faulty light socket. Shut off the power supply to the fixture at the circuit breaker. Remove the bulb and inspect the socket for cracks, burns, or breaks that could cause a short and flickering. Replace the entire socket if needed.

Loose Wires

Flickering can also point to a wiring issue like a loose wire connection. Track the electrical wiring leading to the light fixture. Check that all connections are tight and secure with no exposed copper. Faulty connections can create sparks that cause flickering.

Simple Lighting Fixes

Here are a few quick DIY fixes to try before calling an electrician:

Clean Contacts

Buildup on the lightbulb base or contacts inside the socket can cause flickering. Carefully wipe down the bulb base and electrical contacts inside the socket using a clean cloth or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. This may improve the connection.

Bend Socket Tabs

Many light sockets have small metal tabs that clasp onto the lightbulb base. Over time, these can get bent downward. Gently bend the tabs back up so they make tighter contact with the bulb. Be sure power is off when doing this!

Replace Fixture

If the socket itself seems faulty, or the wiring leading to the fixture is old, replacing the entire light fixture may be easier and more effective than repeated repairs. New light fixture kits are inexpensive and relatively easy for DIYers to install.

When to Call an Electrician

Some flickering lights require professional electrical work:

With some diligent troubleshooting and a few simple fixes, you can likely resolve a flickering light on your own. But don't hesitate to call an electrician if the problem seems complex or beyond your abilities. Your safety is most important!