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Flickering Lights May Require a New Light Switch

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…

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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 in Nebraska.

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

How to Fix a Flickering Light Problem

Application: Replacing a Faulty Light Switch.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced. This electrical work is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
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
Light Switch Wiring
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.

More about Wiring a Light Switch

Lighting For The Home
Lighting Electrical Code
Wiring Diagrams
3 Way Switch Diagram
This link is helpful as a Homeowner
Do-It-Yourself Electrical

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Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

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Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
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Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Flickering Lights May Require a New Light Switch”
  1. 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?

  2. gary says:

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

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.