If you've noticed that some or all of the lights in your house have a tendency to flicker recently, don't worry; you're probably not in a horror film. But on the other hand, this can be a genuine sign of an electrical problem that needs attention, so don't just ignore it. If the incident occurs more than once and isn't limited to one bulb, it's probably not a fluke or a simple worn-out lightbulb, so educating yourself about the possible causes of the problem is a good idea; you may have to call the electrician or you may not. Here are four causes that might apply in the case of flickering lights.
1. Not enough power in circuit
This is one of the most harmless causes for lights flickering (other than having a bad bulb). If the lights are only flickering in one or two rooms and you notice that the flickering coincides with the startup of a large appliance (AC unit, refrigerator, etc.), the problem is probably that the appliance is taking away power from the lights for a second or two. If this is the only problem with your electrical system, your electrician may want to check for grounding problems, but if those don't seem to be in evidence the problem can be abated with a "soft start kit" on the offending appliance to make its startup easier on your lights. Having a dedicated circuit for the appliance would also solve the problem.
2. Insufficient wiring system
Any time a wire is too small to power everything at the other end, you'll end up with flickering and other power problems. If your wiring is old, too-small wires are likely to occur, especially in areas where modern homes use a lot of electricity (such as the kitchen). Installing an extra circuit can solve this problem (this task will, of course, require an electrician).
3. Electrical system failure (loose connection)
Another possible reason for flickering is having a loose circuit connection somewhere in the system. The symptoms for this problem are similar to the symptoms for the harmless flickering caused by a sudden power draw. In this case, though, the flickering probably develops over time as the failure develops.
4. Power outage
If your lights have started flickering on a regular basis, you're likely to have one of the electrical problems mentioned above. But if this is an isolated incident and you're experiencing bad weather, it's possible that a power outage in the area is responsible. If this is the case, it won't be the lights alone that flicker; the power to the entire house will briefly go out.
These are just four of the reasons why your lights may occasionally flicker. If you can't pin down the cause and are worried that you might be at risk for an electrical fire, it's safest to have an electrician, like one from Chadwick Electric Inc, out for an inspection.