How to Fix a Flickering Light Bulb

Symptoms of a Flickering Light Bulb

Some common symptoms of a flickering bulb include:

  • The light output oscillates between bright and dim, or even goes completely dark briefly before coming back on. This flickering may be fast and constant, or intermittent.
  • The flickering may worsen as the bulb warms up.
  • You may hear crackling or buzzing from the bulb or fixture when the bulb flickers.
  • The flickering may be more pronounced with LED bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs can also flicker, especially as they age.

Potential Causes of a Flickering Light Bulb

There are several possible causes behind a flickering light bulb:

Loose Electrical Connections

Loose wiring in the light socket, plug, or switch can interrupt the flow of electrical current to the bulb intermittently. This interruption causes the flickering.

Damaged Light Socket

The socket may be old, corroded, or damaged. This can prevent a solid connection with the bulb’s base, resulting in flickering.

Dying Light Bulb

As bulbs age and near the end of their lifespan, the filament or internal components weaken. This causes inconsistent light output and flickering.

Wrong Bulb Wattage

Using a bulb with higher wattage than specified for the light fixture can lead to overheating and electrical arcing in the socket. This arc can make the bulb flicker.

Faulty Light Dimmer Switch

A worn out or incompatible dimmer switch may flicker when controlling LED or CFL bulbs. The dimmer may need adjusting or replacing.

Voltage Fluctuations

Flickering may be caused by wider problems with electrical voltage supply to your home. Consult an electrician if the issue persists in all fixtures.

How to Fix a Flickering Light Bulb

Follow these troubleshooting steps to stop your light from flickering:

1. Check Existing Bulb

Turn the light on and observe the flickering pattern. See if touching or wiggling the bulb makes it worse. If so, the bulb’s connection is likely loose.

Turn off power and unscrew the bulb. Examine for visible damage or darkened ends of the filament. Insert firmly back into the socket and turn back on. If it still flickers, the bulb is faulty. Replace it.

2. Check for Loose Connections

If flickering persists with a new bulb, unplug the fixture or turn off power at the breaker. Remove the bulb and inspect the socket, contacts, wires and plug for corrosion, damage, or looseness.

Tighten any loose wiring. Clean corrosion or buildup with electrical contact cleaner spray and a brush. Replace damaged sockets or wires as needed.

3. Switch Bulb Types

Try an LED or CFL bulb if the existing type flickers. Newer LED and CFL bulbs perform better with dimmers. Avoid pairing LED bulbs with magnetic/coil dimmers which can cause LED flickering.

4. Replace Light Dimmer

If the bulb only flickers when dimmed, the existing dimmer switch is likely faulty. Replace it with a new LED-compatible, solid-state dimmer. Consult manufacturer guidelines.

5. Check Voltage Supply

Persistent flickering across multiple fixtures may indicate voltage fluctuations in your home’s electrical system. Consult an electrician to inspect for loose neutral connections to the home, or failing transformer/supply lines.

6. Call an Electrician

For continued flickering without obvious cause, contact a licensed electrician to inspect the light’s wiring, socket, switches and your home’s electrical system. Some flickering may require professional repair work for safety.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flickering Bulbs

Why does my new LED bulb flicker?

Newer LED bulbs are electronically complex. Minor manufacturing defects can cause some flickering. Try another new bulb of the same type before determining the old one is faulty. Also ensure your LED bulb is paired with a compatible dimmer switch.

Why does fluorescent light flickering occur?

Aging fluorescent tubes flicker as their cathode ends erode. Flickering is also caused by failing ballasts which regulate current flow inside the tubes. Replace old fluorescent tubes and worn ballasts to stop flickering.

Is a flickering bulb dangerous?

It can be. Flickering indicates potential loose connections or electrical arcing. This heat buildup and sparks could start an electrical fire over time. Have an expert inspect and repair flickering bulbs as soon as possible.

Does a loose light bulb cause flickering?

Yes, a loose bulb connection in the socket frequently causes disruptive flickering. Screw in bulbs tightly and check for socket damage preventing snug bulb contact. Also check plugs and wires for looseness.

Why does my bulb flicker when turned off?

This is likely a loose neutral wire connection in your home’s electrical circuitry. Consult an electrician immediately, as this could indicate a serious shock or fire hazard from current leakage.


Flickering light bulbs can result from bulb faults, loose electrical connections, incompatible dimmers, or voltage supply issues. Inspect the bulb, socket, switches and wires. Replace damaged components. Consider safety issues and call an electrician if the exact cause is unclear. Addressing any flickering promptly prevents more severe electrical system hazards. With diligent troubleshooting and repairs, you can eliminate annoying flickering and restore steady illumination.