This happens randomly. We are in Vancouver, Canada, It happens with all the lights with the same circuit, but lights are in different rooms (living room, kitchen, den and bathroom). Sometimes those lights go dim, very dim for no reason. And rarely they all blinking blank and bright like disco lights (see this video. https://youtu.be/OUrnFzoIUNw)

Most of the time they are stable. Some lights on the same circuit go very dim (50%), other lights stay stable, or flicker a bit. The lightbulbs are incandescent and LED, no dimmer in the house. This happens with just the fridge running. We weren't using microwave, or stove, or dryer, or vacuuming or running anything big.

What we have done:

Power company came and checked the wire to the poles, they said all look good to them. If still flickers, call electrician.

We did precisely just that. He checked the main panel, tighten all the breakers. Nothing replaced because all look fine.

The breakers rarely trips, although we might be running a lot in the house. it's 100Amps, we have three fridges, three stoves and two microwaves. But electrician confirmed it's not over loading, since main breaker never tripped.

He recommended opening all the outlets and switches looking for loose connection.

So we had electrician came, I have spent over $1000 and so far nothing conclusive. We are 60% through replacing outlets and switches, flicking continues and even worst.

So I am looking for some advice on line.

Update :

Because I don’t live in the house I had to go back and stay around and observe the issue. Now it’s clear to me that not just the lights on the same circuit but rather multiply circuits. So I suspect when all the lights are on in the house they might all flicker at the same time. I am asking people here to turn on all the lights and observe. If this were the case does it make sense to proceed to replace outlets and switches looking for loose connection? Or a bigger underlying issue? Thanks again

  • The whole house has this issue? Or, just one circuit? If the electrician is just randomly replacing things, you need a different electrician who will use a systematic approach. If it is just one circuit: try to draw a physical diagram of the house marking the outlets and lights that have the issue. Then attempt to draw a functional diagram of the circuit that has the problem. Turn the problem circuit breaker off when you are not actively troubleshooting. Loose connections are a fire hazard.
    – Mattman944
    Feb 17, 2020 at 10:24
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. It looks like you now have two separate accounts; you should request that they be merged. And, please take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Feb 17, 2020 at 20:47
  • 1
    If the issue is on multiple circuits, then it is unlikely to be a switch or outlet. It is more likely in the main service panel or further back. My previous recommendations still hold, get a better electrician, map out the circuits (indicating the intermittent ones), turn off any bad circuits unless you are troubleshooting. This house should have a split phase system, half your 120V circuits are on Line 1 to Neutral and the other half are on Line 2 to Neutral. If all the problem circuits are on one line, then this would be an important clue.
    – Mattman944
    Feb 18, 2020 at 2:25
  • It sounds like the "change all the outlets" electrician has a serious case of "Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic". When you don't know how to fix a problem, just diddle on doing the things you do know how to do. Feb 18, 2020 at 10:57
  • So I am back at the house again and situation is worst. Washing machine won’t start (struggled to kick in ). The whole house became very dim. So we canceled the wash and they recovered. I remember electrician told me that we can use the washer but we won’t be until this is sorted. I Am hiring a new guy to come this Friday and will update then. Now the lights would go dark and won’t be back on until minutes later. It’s not longer flickering but just goes dark and can’t recover. Seems it’s getting worst. Feb 19, 2020 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


That is a classic arc fault. You need to stop that happening right away or you'll have ashes for a house.

First, figure out which circuit is affected. It's on the same circuit if turning off one branch circuit breaker turns off all the affected loads. If it's on multiple circuits, then it's something to do with the panel or service.

Confine your troubleshooting to places common to all affected areas. For instance if a single circuit is involved, don't mess with outlets on any other circuit. If multiple circuits are involved, don't mess with anything on any individual circuit; only look at places which serve multiple circuits.

Madly replacing parts will not work, it's not a faulty part, it's a faulty connection. Only replace parts after you find the bad connection and find it too badly burnt to continue in service. You'll know it when you find it.

On a single branch circuit, check the neutral bar in the panel - most overlooked. After the neutral bar, the likeliest place is a backstab connection at an outlet or switch. Or a bad wire nut. Wire nuts need to hold together on their own. If they need tape to stay together, they have been done wrong and will cause this.

  • An update: we had another electrician came and he tighten the neutral lines behind the meter box. That seemed to drastically improved the situation. How we still experience blackouts/very dim lights up to two minutes. We also noticed an very old hardy used Boran intercom was buzzing while the lights go wild. Today We unscrewed all the wires now. The gas boiler rattles when it starts up and that was also when light flickers and for on for a while. Now I am monitoring the situation. Feb 23, 2020 at 6:20

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