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Common Electrical Problems With Light Fixtures and Outlets

No matter the age of your home, you can always run into electrical issues with your light fixtures or outlets. While there are many issues that should be strictly handled by a professional, there are still a few troubleshooting tasks you can do to hopefully pinpoint the issue. Here are a few things to know before you call a professional.

Light Fixture Problems

Light Bulbs Burn out Often

Light bulbs burning out more often than normal can be caused by a variety of problems.
According to, one common cause of excessive bulb burnout is using bulbs with higher than recommended wattage. Using bulbs with too high a wattage isn't just inconvenient when the bulbs burn out – it can also be dangerous. The socket and fixture's wires' insulation isn't meant to stand up to the bulb's more intense heat and may melt, increasing the risk of sparks arcing between wires and causing a fire.
Leaving lights on a lot can also take a toll on your light bulbs. They spend their hours of life more quickly, and need to be changed more often.
Power surges, cheap-quality bulbs, and loose or arcing connections in the electrical socket or circuit can be the culprits.

Flickering Lights

Poor connections in a circuit cause flickering lights. Narrow down the location's connection by observing where and when the lights are flickering. For example, some lights might flicker when it's windy, indicating a poor connection in one of the exterior lights on that circuit. If all of your lights flicker at once, one of the main wires' connections could be the issue.
Some lights, such as recessed lights, have safety features to protect from overheating. If your home's recessed lights turn themselves on and off, you are probably using bulbs with the wrong style or wattage.

Some Lights Are Dim and Others Are Extra Bright

A damaged neutral connection causes some bulbs to dim or shine extra bright and can even blow out bulbs or damage your electronic devices. If this happens to you, call your power company. The problem isn't always in your home; sometimes it is a main open neutral in the power company's lines.

Outlet Problems

Begin by determining if the trouble is just with that outlet, or if it is affecting multiple outlets.

Common Single-Outlet Problems

If your outlets sometimes go dead, and you can fix it by wiggling the plug in the outlet, the outlet's receivers are probably bent or sprung. This can happen to the entire outlet or to only one of the plugs. If this happens, you will need to have the outlet replaced.

Common Multiple-Outlet Problems

If multiple outlets go dead in part of your home, you may have tripped a breaker or ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). If you tripped a breaker, you'll need to turn the breaker off, then on again. If it trips again, you have a short in the circuit. If the problem is a GFCI on an outlet, you'll need to reset it by pushing its reset button.
If the problem isn't being caused by any of the above, you probably have a loose or frayed connection somewhere in the circuit.


Not having GFCIs in areas that can become wet, such as your bathroom and kitchen, is not a code violation. But it is more dangerous when you don't have that protection. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) GFCI's shut down circuits in time to prevent an electrical accident if they detect a ground-fault, during which an electrical device could shock you.
Protecting yourself with GFCIs is simple; all you need to do is replace your old outlets with outlets that include GFCIs. According to they are also inexpensive. Hire an electrician to install it if you aren't confident in doing it yourself.
Remember to always be safe when troubleshooting electrical problems. If you continue to face issues with your fixtures or outlets, give Supreme Electric a call.