Having to face electrical problems, like flickering lights, can be frustrating when you’re trying to finish your chores.
However, it might indicate an electrical abnormality like a damaged circuit or a minor issue like a faulty bulb. Tracing and rectifying these issues yourself can be a challenge.
But worry not; in this guide, we’ll explore possible causes of lights flickering and tips on how you fix them easily.
The most common causes of lights flickering while the washer is on are faulty bulbs and overloaded circuits. Also, running multiple appliances simultaneously (such as light bulbs, computers, air conditioners, washers, etc.) will cause lights to flicker. Running multiple appliances pulls a lot of electric currents, causing your lights to flicker.
Nevertheless, in this guide, you’ll discover various probable causes of flickering lights and suggestions on how to resolve them.
Why the Lights Flicker When Your Washer is on
If your lights flicker briefly when you turn on your washer, there’s no cause for alarm.
But, if it is a persistent flicker, the following are four major and most common causes.
Below are the causes;
- House wiring
- Overloaded Circuit/fuse
- Utility transformer
Understanding these issues is the first step in rectifying the problem. So, here’s a brief explanation of the above factors:
#1. House Wiring
Bad, old, or faulty wiring is one of the major reasons your lights may flicker when the washer is running.
This persistent flickering could likely be a result of a loose wire connection. Similarly, it may be from undersized wiring.
That is, the wiring used is too thin or small to accommodate the amount of energy or power your house generates.
Loose or outdated wiring are two of the most common culprits of faulty electrical wiring.
Additionally, wrongly installed old wiring will corrode over time, leading to flickering lights when you turn on the washer or any other household appliances.
#2. Overloaded Circuit/Fuse
Furthermore, if the circuits in your house share the same fuse as your washing machine, it may cause the lights to flicker while you’re doing your laundry.
Suppose you have too much load on one circuit. For instance, if the washing machine requires more voltage (like when the spin motor starts).
However, separating the washer and lights from the same circuit will fix this problem.
And this is why it’s always best to place major appliances on their dedicated circuits or fuse.
However, this may not be the case with the circuits in older homes.
So, an easy way to check the circuit load in your house is to switch off the breaker for the lights.
And, if your washer loses power, it means your circuit and washing machine share the same lights, and you should try to separate them.
According to the healthy housing manual, homes with particular fuses don’t usually have enough power to handle many appliances and electrical equipment.
But, an electrician can fix this by making the necessary upgrades or changes.
Getting an electrician to study the cause would be best if this is the case, as leaving it unattended would lead to more harm.
Household and motor-driven electric appliances need a significant energy supply to run. And once their motors are engaged, the demand for their energy will decrease.
Tim Carter, a Newspaper Building Columnist, writes on his Ask the Builder website, compares this energy supply process to pushing an automobile.
Also, he states that it will take a lot of effort for you to get a vehicle to the point where it will start rolling. But once it does start, it gets easier to continue pushing it.
#4. Utility Transformer
Additionally, an inadequate power supply from your utility company may cause your lights to flicker when your washing machine is on.
Also, when too many homes on your block share the transformer, it will reduce the amount of electricity coming into your house.
And, if your neighbors use a lot of power, your lights will start to flicker.
If this is the case, you should contact the utility company and have them send a technician to address any issues with the transformer’s power supply to your house.
Should you be Worried About the Flickering Lights When Your Washer is On?
Flickering lights are generally not a cause for alarm, especially if it’s a one-time thing.
However, if it occurs consistently, then it’s not something you should ignore.
If you notice your lights flickering whenever you turn on the washer, the first and obvious thing you have to do is, investigate the source of the problem.
Afterward, you should be able to identify if the issues are minor or severe.
This table differentiates issues according to their intensity levels.
|Minor issues||Persistent or severe issues|
|Loose bulb||Overloaded circuits|
|Faulty light switch||Fluctuating voltage|
|Dimmer switch bulb (which may be incompatible with your bulb type)||Old or loose wiring|
|Loose plug connection|
A minor issue can always turn into a major one if not fixed. So, it would be best to resolve the issue immediately, no matter how mild it may seem.
Also, if the issue appears minor, you could try fixing it yourself or call in an electrician.
However, if the flickering stems from a more serious source, you should contact an electrician immediately.
What Causes the Light to Dim When You Turn on the Washer?
A washing machine consumes a large amount of power and can cause a power drain.
So using the lights and washing machine simultaneously will manifest in flickering lights.
Nevertheless, we’ll examine some of the most common causes of dimming lights. They are:
#1. Aged Lighting
Bulbs and lamps you’ve used for a long time will eventually dim. It’s an age effect. It’s what the “life hours” tag on a bulb means.
If it says on a light bulb that it has a lifespan of 2,000 hours, it signifies that after 2,000 hours, it won’t be giving out as much light as it used to (roughly 70% of the time).
When bulbs become worn out, different components fail at different rates. Electrical filaments will become fragile and flicker or dim every so often.
You can always fix this by changing the bulb yourself or with the help of an electrician.
As stated earlier, if you notice your lights dimming or flickering when you turn on your washer (or any other household appliances), it’s a possible sign that your circuit is overloaded.
There’s a limit on how much power each circuit in your house can draw. And adding more appliances to a single circuit increases power demand.
When this happens, the current flow to your lights will decrease to create a balance on this demand.
And this low current flow is what will lead to dimmer lights when you turn on an appliance that demands a hefty power supply.
Most of the time, this isn’t a problem. However, suppose you plan on adding heavier-load appliances; it’s always best to transfer them to a separate circuit or install a new one for appliances with heavier loads.
If you don’t do this, the increased demand for power will exceed the circuit’s limit. And you’ll need to make regular trips to the circuit breaker box.
#3. Faulty Ballasts
Electrical ballasts regulate the current or voltage that flows to a lighting fixture.
The major thing it does is supply the right amount of power at the right voltage frequency and make sure it stays there.
However, as the ballast ages, it may become inaccurate. The current level or voltage in supply may increase or decrease, leading to occasional dimming, flickering, and buzzing.
If this occurs, you should get an electrician to fix the ballast or go through the ballast’s label so you can purchase a replacement.
#4. Faulty Wiring
The issue could also be in your home’s wiring. Poorly installed, old, and damaged wiring are possible reasons your lights dim when you turn on your washer.
Faulty wiring can be in the form of a loose connection, frays, corrosion, or improper installation are all causes of dimming lights which could lead to serious safety hazards. And they should be properly addressed.
It would be best if you never tried to fix faulty wiring yourself (unless you’re an electrician). Always have a professional electrician do the inspection.
#5. Power Grid Issues
Although not one of the most common reasons for dimming, it’s always possible.
If there’s any irregularity on the overall power grid, it can affect the lighting in your home.
Additionally, an increased demand (like with overloaded circuits) for power in your block or neighborhood can lead to a power difference that can cause your lights to dim.
In this case, you should also contact your electrician to determine what you can do about it.
Finally, most cases involving dimming lights are electrical and demand the attention of an electrician.
How Do You Stop the Flickering Lights When You Turn on the Washer?
First of all, what you need to do is call in a professional to inspect and diagnose your electrical problem. What will happen next may vary depending on the cause.
Sometimes, the problem may come from outside your home, at the meter box (or main service cable connection).
If you’re certain that the flickering is from the service connection outside, it may be the responsibility of your utility company.
However, it may also develop from your interior house wiring or main electrical panel.
So, again, try contacting an expert or professional electrician to help trace the source of the problem.
With this, you’ll be able to track down and resolve the problem according to the situation.
#1. Do Washers Use a Lot of Electricity?
Yes, washing machines tend to consume a lot of power. On average, they use up 400 to 1,000 watts of electricity. However, these numbers are dependent on the model of your washer.
#2. Can Flickering Lights Start a Fire?
Flickering lights can be a warning sign of a fire hazard in your home, especially when you can’t associate the flickering with any appliance.
Although they might seem minor issues, you shouldn’t overlook flickering lights as they can escalate.
However, it might just turn out to be a minor issue which shouldn’t be any cause for alarm.
Nevertheless, if you notice your lights occasionally flickering while using the washer (or any other household appliances), it would be best to have it checked out.