Lights Flickering in House: Fire Hazard or Not?

Woman adjusting a lightbulb in her kitchen

Noticing flickering lights in the kitchen, bathroom, or any other room in your house can be a nuisance, but it’s usually not a reason to be concerned. There are many reasons for lights to flicker or dim—some that are harmless and others that may be hazardous. Before you get worried, be sure to investigate the problem further to make sure there isn’t a larger issue with the electrical system in your home, which could have more serious consequences. First, observe the flickering pattern—how frequently, how long, and when it happens—to figure out a possible cause and whether you’ll need a professional electrician to diagnose and repair the problem.  

Potential Hazards 

Why is paying attention to flickering lights so important? Because the flickering can be a sign of a more serious problem that could potentially cause an electrical fire. Electrical problems are the third most common cause of residential building fires and represent about 6% of all home fires. Thankfully, most home electrical fires are preventable. By knowing the difference between harmless flickering and potentially dangerous electrical problems, you can spot an issue before it becomes a bigger problem. 

Harmless Flickering 

If you see just one light flickering, especially if that light has an incandescent bulb, you probably just have a bad bulb or a bulb that’s loose in its socket. Since this is an isolated problem, you can solve it by switching out the old bulb for a new one, or just tightening the bulb in its socket. To prevent burning or shocking yourself, remember to turn off the light before removing or adjusting the bulb.  

If you see an LED light flickering, and it’s attached to a dimmer switch, the bulb may be incompatible with your dimmers. LEDs on dimmer switches tend to flicker when they’re set to low light—it’s annoying, but not dangerous. If it continues to bother you, try changing the brand or type of LED light to see if that fixes the problem. 

Related Topic: How to Prevent Electrical Fires 

Signs of Electrical Problems 

An early warning sign of damage wiring or an outdated electrical system may be flickering lights. This is especially true in older homes that can’t keep up with modern needs or have electrical systems that may have deteriorated over time. If you notice any of the following situations, contact an electrician to check it out. 

  • Lights flicker when running a large appliance. 
    Large appliances increase the load to your central circuit breaker. This can cause lights to flicker in just one room or all through your house. Consider having an electrician inspect your system to see if you need an electrical service upgrade. 

  • Lights flickering in one area. 
    If you noticed more than one light flickering in a single room or area of your house, you may have a defective circuit. It may be caused by a loose connection in the circuit and that can be dangerous if it’s not fixed. 

  • Light flickering all over the house. 
    If you notice lights flickering in every room, it may be a sign of loose service conductors in your central electrical panel. These loose connections are a fire hazard, so call an electrician repair them as soon as possible. 

Related Topic: Warning Signs You May Have an Electrical Wiring Issue 

Calling In the Pros 

Don’t let a flickering light problem persist. If you can’t identify the source of the problem, call a licensed electrician to check it out. And if you do have an electrical problem that results in fire or smoke damage to your home, you’ll need a professional to help you through every step of the home fire restoration process. Rainbow International’s certified fire restoration experts, use the most advanced tools and equipment in the industry to get homes back to a healthy pre-loss condition, with minimal loss of property from smoke damage. To find out more about the remediation and restoration process, call us at (855) 724-6269 or request service online today.