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How to Fix a Flickering Light

A flickering light isn't just annoying; it can be dangerous. Learn how to fix the problem.


  • : Working with electricity is very dangerous -- be extremely careful and, if you have any doubts, contact a professional.
  • Step 1: Tighten the bulb Check the lightbulb. A flickering light could simply be the result of a loose bulb, so start by turning it off and tightening the bulb.
  • Step 2: Check the circuit See if your circuit is overloaded. If so, plug the light into another outlet.
  • Step 3: Check contact tab Unplug the light to make sure the bulb is touching the metal contact tab at the bottom of the light socket. Remove the bulb -- you'll see the tab in the middle of the socket that should make electrical contact with the lightbulb.
  • : If the fixture cannot be unplugged, never attempt to manipulate the socket unless the electricity is turned off at the source.
  • Step 4: Raise the tab Take a flat-head screwdriver and slip it under the tab. Raise the tab about an eighth of an inch from the bottom of the socket, so it will meet the bulb when the bulb is screwed back in.
  • Step 5: Scrape it clean Make sure the socket and tab are clean, and scrape away any rust. Put the bulb back in and test it.
  • Step 6: Look for frays If the light still flickers, check the cord carefully for frays. If you find one, you’ll need to rewire the light by removing the damaged cord, threading a new one in its place, and stripping its end so you can wrap the exposed wires around the screws in the socket.
  • TIP: Do not use electrical tape to repair a frayed cord; it could cause a short or fire.
  • Step 7: Get a pro If the light continues to flicker, a worn out switch or socket could be the problem, in which case you should call an electrician.
  • FACT: British inventor Joseph Swan got a patent for the lightbulb in 1860, a year before Thomas Edison got his.

You Will Need

  • Patience to find the problem
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • A new cord
  • Time

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