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Reasons Your Lights Are Flickering [Video]

May 6, 2020 | Blog

Chicago is an old city with some awesome history. Many Chicago bungalows and other styles of homes including Greystone, Georgian, and brick style two flats, three flats and four flats are what we think of when we visualize our Chicago Neighborhoods. The first wave of homes in Chicago were built in the Roaring ’20s and most other homes in Chicago were built before 1970.

Arnold Electric specializes in working on electrical systems in Chicago homes from the turn of the century. Even so, stay tuned and I will talk about the most common reason your lights may flicker in your old OR new home!

Let’s talk about new homes first.

The simplest and most common issue we see throughout homes is the light bulb used in your light fixture is either the wrong bulb or the wrong wall switch is being used, such as an improper dimmer. Think about how large the light bulb section is at the hardware store and then think about how many dimmers, switches, and light fixture combinations there are. Leaving this improperly connected is a hazard. It is not broken but could break down and could cause more issues in your system.

Consult with a local, and licensed, electrical home service provider to get the repairs needed. You might even be able to fix the issue with some “process of elimination” light bulb swaps. Need some guidance? Message us on Facebook and we will help you out as much as possible.

Now let’s talk about the most common reason your lights flicker in your turn of the century neighborhood home.

First, I would ask you, “When was the last time you had an annual maintenance and safety check on your electrical system?” Most homeowners never consider an annual maintenance and safety check. If you don’t get one every year – you need to start. Your whole electrical system has a life span. Build a relationship with an electrician just like you would with your heating and cooling company and get the electrician on-site once a year to keep eyes on how your system is holding up and functioning.

Since most homeowners don’t have an annual maintenance and safety inspection, they have no idea that their panel, breakers, or the wiring in their system could potentially be worn out. Those components could even be past the manufacturer’s recommended safe operating life span. Also, many homeowners are not aware that they are living in a home wired with cloth-covered wiring.

So, what are the other obvious signs of an outdated electrical system?

Flickering lights is number one of course. What is happening there is that your breakers, switches, wire nuts, outlets, wire, meter etc. are all worn out. And the flicker is the electricity “arcing” or ‘jumping’ from one contact to the other. Arcing causes surges and unbalanced electricity and extreme heat and will lead to exponentially deteriorating your electrical system and will eventually cause a series of small electrical fires. Here are some other surface related items you can check on your home that will be an indication of why your lights are flickering: 2 prong outlets, painted over outlets, fuses, not enough breakers for your home, lose switches, improperly wired outlets etc. are all telltale signs of why lights are flickering.

If you have these issues going on in your home and want to understand more about the process to get your electrical system looked at by a licensed contractor that specializes in working on older homes, or if you already know you have an outdated electrical system that needs to be replaced, please do not hesitate to give Arnold Electric Services a call. We can be reached at 773-647-1120.

– Jack Arnold

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