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Electrical Wire and Cable

Flickering Lights May Require a New Light Switch

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

I have a light fixture that can be turned on/off by 2 different switches. Sometimes when I flip either switch, the light does not come on, or it flickers and then turns on…

A Sure Sign of a Worn Out Light Switch

Electrical Question: I have a light switch that doesn’t seem to be working right, what do you think the problem might be?

This question is from Amber, a Homeowner from Norfolk, Nebraska.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Amber.

How to Fix a Flickering Light Problem

Application: Replacing a Light Switch.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the light circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional fixture wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Materials: Make sure the replacement light switch has the same amperage and voltage rating as the original switch, and is fully compatible with the electrical circuit, the light fixture and the type of light bulbs being used.

Replacing a Worn Out Light Switch

All of the indications in this electrical question sounds like one of your switches is getting worn out and needs replacing.

Light Switch Wiring
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Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1
Fully explained pictures and wiring diagrams about wiring light switches describing the most common switches starting with photo diagram 1.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Flickering Lights May Require a New Light Switch”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Gary,
    Depending on the light switch that you are referring to, yes – some worn out light switches can affect the performance of a light fixture, however the wiring of the light circuit and the electrical connections to the switch should be inspected and repaired as needed if there has been a loose connection and the wiring has become brittle or damaged.

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Gary – looks like you are busy with your home wiring projects – that’s Great!
    The outlet that you are describing in the room where the light is flickering should be checked, paying close attention to the wiring connections to the outlet and any spliced wires inside the outlet junction box. Electrical repairs should be performed for any burnt connections and it would be best to replace the outlet if there is any signs or overheated areas where the wiring has been connected.

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Gary,
    It would be best to plan to upgrade the electrical wiring throughout the home which will bring the electrical circuit wiring up to codes and make the home safer, and when installed correctly will prevent nuisance tripping breakers.

  4. gary says:

    When troubleshooting a house with old wiring with two prong receptacles and no ground wire throughout the entire house the breakers would trip often. How can I correct this?

  5. gary says:

    Can a bad light switch cause a light to flicker but not come completely on?

  6. gary says:

    I have a light that flickers when I plug something in an outlet in the same room and turn it on, but the light will not come on when I flip the light switch what can cause this?


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