Lighting Problems

lighting problemsTable of Contents

Lights Won’t Turn On

There are seven typical reasons that your lights will not turn on:

  1. You have a bad bulb. This is the most common reason why a light will not turn on. Start by replacing the bulb in question. If the new bulb does not work, then remove a working bulb from a nearby socket and try that one.
  2. You have a bad switch. This switch will need to be replaced.
  3. You have a broken light fixture. In most cases, the quickest, easiest and least expensive solution is to replace the fixture. If you do not want to do this, it is normally possible to repair the light fixture.
  4. You have now power. Read our power problems section for more information.
  5. If you have your light set on a timer, check the settings to ensure that it is set correctly. You may need to replace the timer.
  6. If your light is connected to a photocell, check to make sure it is properly adjusted and not broken. If it is broken, then you will need to replace it.
  7. If your light is a fluorescent, mercury-vapor or high-pressure-sodium light, then there may be an issue with the ballast. If these lights have a loud hum, funny smell or just do not turn on, then you may need to replace the ballast.

Lights Won’t Turn Off

  1. You have a broken switch. It needs to be replaced.
  2. If your light is connected to a timer, then check to make sure that it is configured properly. If it is broken, then replace the timer.
  3. If your light is connected to a photocell, then make sure that everything is properly adjusted. If the photocell is broken, replace it.

Blinking Lights

This typically happens for one of the following two reasons:

  1. Your photocell is not adjusted properly. Check the adjustment.
  2. Many recessed light fixtures contain thermal protections that will shut off the light whenever the fixture gets too hot. Try using bulbs with lower Wattage so that temperatures remain lower.

Fluorescent Lights Flicker

Fluorescent lights will flicker for one of these three reasons:

  1. Fluorescent bulbs often require a certain amount of warm-up time, especially on colder days. Give them some time to warm up.
  2. If you have bulbs that are old, then it is time to replace them.
  3. If your ballast is old and not functioning correctly, then it is time to replace it.

Bulbs Burn Out Quickly

These are the most common three reasons that bulbs burn out quickly:

  1. You are using a bulb with too much Wattage. In general, most glass-covered light fixtures are rated for a max of 60 Watts per bulb. Many people either do not know this, or do not pay attention and use 75-Watt or 100-Watt bulbs in these fixtures. These bulbs will burn out very quickly.
  2. You are using low quality light bulbs. Always use name brand bulbs.
  3. There may be a strange problem with your light fixture. In many cases, even your electrician will not be able to pinpoint what is causing this. When this is the case, your best bet is to just replace the fixture.

Lights are Humming

The following two scenarios will cause your lights to hum:

  1. Your ballast or transformer is no longer working properly. You will need to replace your ballast or transformer.
  2. If your light is connected to a dimmer switch, there may be a problem between a low-voltage dimmer and the corresponding low-voltage light fixture. Although this can be very difficult to fix, the best thing to do is to try several different dimmers until you find one that works with your fixture.

Lights Dimming

It is very common for lights to dim momentarily, just to return to their full brightness a few seconds later. In most situations, this will happen when the lights are connected to the same circuit as a large appliance such as an air conditioning unit, refrigerator or microwave oven. These appliances use much more electricity than usual when they first power on, causing the lights to dim. After they have powered up, the flow of electricity is lower, letting your lights return to their full brightness.

Although it is more noticeable in the evening and at night, you will probably also notice this dimming during the day. If it is troublesome for you, then talk to an electrician about adding an additional circuit for the appliance that is causing your lights to dim.

NOTE: If there is not an apparent cause of your dimming lights, then you should contact an electrician to explore the cause of your power fluctuations.