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Why Do My Lights Flicker When My HVAC System Turns On?

While we rely heavily on electrical systems and HVAC equipment both in our day-to-day lives, sometimes these two utilities might interplay in a way that is concerning. Do your lights dim or flicker when your air conditioning or heating system cycles on? If so, you might be a bit worried. Follow along with the specialists at GAC Services and we just might be able to assuage your worries!

Worried about the electrical systems in your home? Contact the licensed electricians at GAC Services online now!

Why Do Lights Flicker?

In many cases, it’s not just the heating or AC system that might cause a temporary, split-second dim or flicker. Microwaves, hair dryers, portable heating units, hot plates, and more can all cause this odd little phenomenon. This is because any appliance with a high enough electrical “draw” can cause a flickering of your lights.

Think of your home’s electrical, for just a moment, in the same way you would a water tank. Think of the wires as pipes, and the whole system as a sort of ever-running cycle. If one of those pipes were to demand a much larger amount of water all at once, it might interrupt the flow momentarily (you might experience this when a family member is showering and you operate a faucet or flush a toilet). This might cause the water in other areas of the home to stutter for a moment before returning to normal, and though this is a bit of an oversimplification, it’s pretty accurate to what is happening to your electrical when you power on a high-draw or high wattage appliance.

Why Does My HVAC System Make My Lights Flicker?

Home HVAC systems demand some of the highest wattages of any appliance in the home, and particularly when they first cycle on, before the power levels out, so to speak. This means that in many homes when the heat or air kicks on, the lights might dim for a split second. This is much more common in older homes, or homes that haven’t had an electrical upgrade in a few years.

Is Light Flickering a Problem?

In many cases, flickering is considered fairly normal, and it won’t cause much of a problem yet. What it can tell you is that your home’s electrical supply might be starting to fall behind, which considering how quickly our home technology moves these days is no real surprise. We find new appliances, tools, and quality of life improvements each and every year. And while your electrical was likely designed to accommodate some growth, your capacity will only go so high before it begins to be insufficient.

If you’re experiencing a flicker every time your HVAC powers on, or every time you toss something in the microwave, it would be wise to schedule an electrical inspection. In many cases adding dedicated circuits or performing a heavy-up will see the issue handled completely, and will afford you plenty of wiggle room for your growing electrical needs as the years progress.

When Is Flickering a Big Problem?

While very, very brief flickers are fairly common, there are situations where a flicker might be a sign of a much larger issue. Watch out for these accompanying issues, and if you notice any, call a specialist for electrical repair right away:

  • If the flickering is prolonged. To be considered normal at all, the flickering should be exceptionally brief—shorter than a blink by far. If the flicking carries on for a while or continues to happen as the HVAC runs normally, then it’s time to call an expert.
  • If the flickering only happens with your AC or heat. If the flickering doesn’t happen with other high-draw appliances, it may indicate an issue with the electrical systems in your HVAC equipment. An AC inspection can detect any possible problems.
  • If the flickering is accompanied by burning odors. If you ever experience foul, musty, or “burning” odors along with electrical issues, call a specialist immediately. If possible and safe to do so, we would also recommend disabling your electrical entirely until the issues are resolved.

Home Electrical Solutions in Maryland

At GAC Services we never want to see our clients worried or in danger due to an electrical issue. If you live in the Montgomery, Howard, or Frederick County areas of Maryland and are dealing with flickering lights or other electrical complications, give us a call or contact us online right away!

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The information on this website is for informational purposes only; it is deemed accurate but not guaranteed. It does not constitute professional advice. All information is subject to change at any time without notice. Contact us for complete details.