7 Reasons a Lightbulb Is Making Noise (Off and On)

lightbulb noise off or on

Last updated: December 23, 2022 at 11:24 am

There are some appliances in our homes that we expect to make noise all day every day, but the lightbulb is not one of them. Fridges, boilers, extractor fans – those sorts of things are supposed to make noise, and we quickly learn to ignore them.

But when your lightbulb suddenly starts making noise, whether it is on or off, it can be really disconcerting and irritating. So here are all of the things that might be causing your lightbulb to make noses when it is turned off.

The first thing to consider is that you may feel like the noise is coming from your lightbulb, but there are lots of connections within the light fitting. It might be that the noise is coming from your light switch or light fitting!

Lightbulb Making Noise When Switched Off

1. Loose Connection

If you are hearing a popping sound when you turn your lights off, it is likely going to be caused by a loose connection somewhere within the wiring. To check and fix this, you will have to remove the light socket from the wall and inspect the wiring. If you aren’t comfortable doing that, contact an electrician to come and help you.

How to fix a loose connection

To properly fix a loose connection and to stop the noise that your lightbulb is making whilst its turned off, you should first of all disconnect the power from your circuit breaker to make sure that it’s completely safe for you to go in and fix the socket.

Then, you’ll need to unscrew and remove the socket. Not every socket is the same, so you might need to figure out where the screws are to remove it. Before you continue, it’s important that you check the wires have no current going through them by using a voltage detector. Otherwise, you risk electrocution.

Once you are sure that you’re safe to go near the wires, you should carefully check for a loose connection or anything that looks wrong. If there are loose wires, tighten them. After you’ve tightened anything or taken pictures of anything you’re unsure about, return the socket and be sure to tighten the screws completely.

2. Issue With the Dimmer Switch

dimmer switch

If you have a dimmer switch connected to your lightbulb, this may well be the cause of any noise when your light is off. If the dimmer comes loose, it cannot fall back to zero when the light is turned off. This creates a popping sound from the dimmer.

While this is unlikely to cause any damage, it can be incredibly frustrating!

How to fix a loose dimmer switch

Much like with a normal light switch or socket, the first step to fixing a loose dimmer switch is to turn off the power. This is an essential step and should not, under any circumstances, be skipped.
After you’ve turned the power off, you will need to remove the cover plate of the light switch.

This should be simple, and you might find that removing the cover plate reveals some loose screws that are the cause of the noise!

Once the cover plate is off, ensure that every screw is tight and screwed in correctly, then replace the cover plate. If the noise persists, try another fix on this list or contact a professional.

3. Leaky Switch

Behind your light switch there are a myriad of things going on. There are electrical wires and junction boxes that all connect to your home’s circuit breaker panel. This is how electricity is distributed around the building.

But sometimes, if there is a loose or broken connection anywhere in the electrical circuit, heat is generated, and the electricity breaks out of the wiring. As the heat builds up, your circuits run the risk of arcing, which can potentially be quite dangerous.

It is a fire hazard, and sometimes can cause your light switch to crackle when you flick your lights on or off.

How to fix a leaky switch

Much like a dimmer switch, fixing a leaky switch can be quite simple. You just need to remove the cover plate and check everything going on underneath. But you should always ensure that you’ve disconnected the power first!

If you tighten any loose screws and wires and still find that your light switch is crackling, it is likely worth calling a professional electrician to come and look at your lights. They’ll be able to determine what the noise is, where its coming from, and will be able to fix it quickly and without putting themselves in danger.

4. Damaged Contact Point

To function correctly, household light switches rely on contact points. These are an essential part of the switch, and sometimes they can wear out. This happens naturally over time and can lead to a popping noise. If there is a popping noise in your light switch and you can’t find any other cause for it, it is likely to be a damaged contact point.

Unfortunately, damaged contact points cannot be replaced. Instead, you will need to replace the entire light switch.

Lightbulb Making Noise When Switched On

If your lightbulb is noisy, but it’s predominantly when it is turned on, there are a few things that might be causing it. The usual suspects are:

5. Dimmer Used with Incandescent Lightbulbs

The dimmer switch controls and regulates the voltage coming into the line.

As a result, the filament is cooled and excited again and again when using a dimmer, and this causes the filament to vibrate. This vibration results in a buzzing noise. Read more about incandescent bulbs here.

6. Fluorescent Bulbs Wearing Out

Fluorescent bulbs use a ballast to regulate their voltage. Sometimes, when this ballast is old or worn out, the fluorescent bulb flickers and buzzes.

This is because the worn out ballast is unable to regulate voltage correctly.

7. Electromagnetic Interference

If you use LED bulbs, there is no chance that there are issues with the filaments or ballast, because they don’t have them!

As a result, a buzzing LED light can only be caused by a few things; one of which is electromagnetic interference caused by something in your home.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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