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Flickering Lights and Simple Fixes

For months, our bedroom light would not turn on. Well, at times it would, randomly illuminating the room whenever it seemed fit. And at others, turn off without warning. As far as we could tell, there were no signs of ghosts.

We were having our attic turned into livable space and the contractors had recently put in subflooring. We figured they nicked a wire and that was causing the flickering.

I read up on how to find where the wire might be compromised, thinking through how to identify potential causes and learning electrical diagrams. All I can recall now is something about tracing the neutral using some metering device I don’t have.

A couple months later, we had an electrician come out for something else and asked him about it. He suggested we try changing the lightbulb. Really? That’s it?

He explained that CFL lightbulbs, the ones that look like the spiral staircase of some futuristic space habitation, have a wire inside them. The jolting of the nail gun on the subfloor installation right above it probably caused that wire connection to come loose. The expansion and contraction of heat from the bulb would cause the wire to connect then detach in a slow cycle. On and off.

He was right. We switched out the light bulb and it has been working as a light should ever since.

Next time, whether it’s a light or a web development project, I’ll try the simple fix first.

By Jerry Jones

JavaScript Engineer for Automattic, living simply in rural MO.

One reply on “Flickering Lights and Simple Fixes”

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