Why Does Your Ovehead Light Keep Flickering?

Posted on: 15 September 2017


There are multiple issues that could cause an overhead light to occasionally flicker. An overloaded circuit, loose wiring, or a bad light fixture could be the problem.

You can attempt to eliminate some of these possibilities yourself if you're not afraid of working with electrical components.

Do You Have an Overloaded Circuit?

All of the electrical components and outlets in your home are powered by circuit lines that are connected to your breaker panel. While you may have a few individual lines that serve high-powered appliances such as electric dryers and stoves, most of your circuits provide power to multiple outlets and components.

If too many appliances are added to a single circuit, or if one major appliance such as a portable air conditioner is on a circuit, overhead lights may flicker when the compressor kicks on and requires a quick burst of power.

If you believe an air conditioner is the culprit, listen for the compressor when an overhead light starts to flicker. If no air conditioner is present, you will need to determine which areas of the home are powered by the circuit that powers the overhead light. 

You can do this by checking the door of the breaker box, which should have a chart that indicates which areas of the home are controlled by each circuit breaker in the box. You can then determine how many components and outlets are powered by that circuit and move some appliances to another circuit.

If this doesn't work, you need to check the wiring connections of the light fixture.

How Do You Check the Connections of the Light Fixture?

Before touching any fixtures or wiring, you must turn off the circuit breaker that controls power to the circuit line. Leave the light on when you turn off the breaker to ensure that you've chosen the correct breaker. 

Use a screwdriver to detach the light fixture from the ceiling and let the fixture hang from the wire connections. Look for a green grounding wire extending from the ceiling. It should be firmly attached to the fixture by a green screw. If you can move it freely, then the screw needs to be tightened.

If the ground wire is secure, remove the black electrical tape and plastic wire nuts from the connected black and white wires. If the wire connections are secure, replace the wire nuts and tape and restore the light fixture to the ceiling. You need to replace the fixture or have it replaced by an electrician.

Electrical work is as safe as any other type of work if you follow the basic safety protocols of working with electricity, but if you are unsure of your abilities, you should call a local electrician to replace the fixture.