Recessed lighting is a very popular option these days. It’s got a modern appeal and it is also very minimalistic. The lightbulbs sit recessed into the ceiling and their fixtures. The challenge is that when the lights malfunction or perhaps start flickering, it can be hard to figure out what’s going on.

Most of the time it is a simple fix but there are times when the cause of your recessed light flickering might be a bigger issue.

Incompatible dimmer switches can cause light flickering, as recessed lights need specific dimmers. Another cause can be loose or faulty wiring, which can disrupt the flow of electricity. If the LED lights are connected to a shared circuit with high-powered appliances, the voltage fluctuations can lead to flickering.

Try the simple fixes first when it comes to your recessed lighting. Always be sure to approach each method with safety in mind. Turn the switch off and if you are unsure about how to properly handle the issue, you should call an electrician.

Common Causes of Recessed Light Flickering

  • Loose Bulbs
  • Improper Switches
  • Wiring Issues
  • Electrical Supply

Loose Bulbs

Probably one of the most common things that can happen is just that your bulb has worked its way loose. We know this seems a bit odd. You may even be wondering how the bulb could possibly loosen on its own.

The truth is that sometimes it just happens. Don’t worry too much about why the bulb is loose unless you have a continual issue. At that point, you can bring an electrician if the problem persists.

However, if you check the bulb and it seems loose, you can simply tighten the bulb.

The Fix

Follow these steps to fix loose bulbs.

  1. Be sure to turn off the light switch that operates the affected light.
  2. You may need to let it sit off for a few minutes to let the bulb cool slightly.
  3. Put on a pair of work gloves before handling the bulb for added protection.
  4. Use a ladder or step stool if necessary to reach the bulb.
  5. You can completely unscrew the bulb and then screw it back in or you can simply screw the bulb tighter so it is no longer loose.

In this situation, the bulb was simply not getting the connection it needed. It was an irregular connection that led to the flickering. Once the bulb is screwed back in, you can turn the switch back on and see if the problem is fixed.

Improper Switches

Recessed lighting is a bit of a newer approach. However, not every home has the updated technology that makes these things operate best. In most cases, any recessed lighting should operate through a thermocouple switch.

This type of switch is designed to protect the lights from overheating and leading to much bigger issues. In some cases, it’s possible that the switch needs to be updated to the right switch still.

In other cases, this could be because the wiring is not communicating properly with the fixture because it is outdated.

The Fix

Be sure to check that your switch is an upgraded switch that is compatible with this type of light. Most old switches simply are not compatible with an LED light and most recessed lighting is LED now.

If you have an old switch, try getting it updated to see if this fixes your problem. You can also compare the rating of the bulbs with the rating of the switch to confirm compatibility. If the ratings are not compatible, you need to change your switch to something that is.

If you are not comfortable changing out your switch, go ahead and call in an electrician.

Wiring Issues

Older homes could potentially have outdated wiring in them. It’s also possible that the wiring is loose, which could cause the lights to flicker. If you’ve tried these other solutions but continue to have issues, it could be the wiring.

You should never attempt to fix the wiring on your own unless you are a trained electrician. This can be very dangerous to mess with.

Loose our outdated wiring can cause lights to flicker but it can also be a fire hazard. Don’t just blow it off if you suspect this could be the issue at hand.

The Fix

If you suspect the problem is wiring, this needs to be handled by an electrician. Again, loose wires could potentially be a fire hazard so don’t ignore the problem. You will want to get it checked out and get any wiring problems fixed.

Electrical Supply

Finally, you could have a problem with the supply of electricity. This could be common in homes that have older electrical setups. Most of the time, this is directly related to your circuits and breakers. Chances are that the circuits are being overloaded by the demand.

If your lights are paired with something that already has a high current demand, this could cause your recessed lighting to flicker. Pay attention to when the flickering happens and try to determine if it is happening when an appliance kicks on or some other electrical facility is in use.

This might be a good way to pinpoint the problem.

If you suspect this could be the issue, don’t ignore it. This is another thing that could be hazardous to just leave unmanaged.

The Fix

The fix for this type of issue is definitely to bring in an electrician. They can inspect and test the breakers and circuits to determine if this is truly the issue or if something else might be happening.

The electrician will be able to safely fix your problem and hopefully get your recessed lighting back to not flickering.

Are Flickering Lights Really That Bad?

If your lights are flickering, you should never ignore them. Whether you know it’s the switch or you suspect it’s something bigger, don’t just ignore the problem. Flickering lights are a sign that something is going on and needs to be addressed.

One of the causes of flickering lights is fire hazards. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this case. If the simple fixes don’t do the trick, you need to call an electrician and have them take a look.


Flickering lights are certainly a nuisance but they could also be a sign that something is wrong. When your recessed lights are flickering, start by trying to tighten or change the bulb and see if that fixes it.

From there, you can troubleshoot with some other ideas or call an electrician if necessary. Keep your home safe by making sure the flickering gets resolved.