Repairing flickering lights

We get a lot of calls about lights that flicker constantly or sockets where bulbs are continually burning out quickly. Problems like these are usually because there’s an incorrect bulb in the socket, it was screwed in too tightly, or it wasn’t screwed in tightly enough.

The most common underlying cause of flickering lights isn’t the bulb, though. It’s an issue with the socket itself. Read on to learn how screwing a bulb in too tightly can alter your socket, making future light bulbs flicker!

Most homeowners would like to solve this kind of problem rather than paying a service fee for an electrician to come out and do it. If you’re comfortable doing that, here’s what you need to know.

The problem

In the middle of your socket, there’s a brass tab bent at an angle. Ideally, it connects to the bottom of the bulb and connects it to your home’s electrical system.

If you have a bulb that’s screwed in too tightly, that will press the brass tab down and when you install the next bulb, it may not be able to reach that tab, and then the light won’t turn on because the bulb isn’t really connected to your electrical system.Light bulb sockets

It may even work for a few days and then stop working. That’s because there may be an initial arc of electricity from the bulb to the brass tab that makes the connection briefly, but that’s not always stable and you don’t want to rely on that.

The tab is meant to be at a 20 degree angle, not flat at the bottom of the socket. Fixing the tab will often fix the issues with the light bulb that goes in that socket.

The solution

Turn the light switch off. You can even turn the electricity off for that whole room at the breaker box if you prefer.
Use a fiberglass ladder, not metal.
Take a screwdriver and pop the brass tab up so that it can create contact with the bulb.

That’s it!

If popping the tab up doesn’t fix your flickering light or frequently burning out bulbs, or if you’d rather not do it yourself, you’re welcome to give us a call. We’ll be happy to find the solution that works in your home.

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