While buzzing coming from a light bulb isn’t usually dangerous, it certainly is annoying. There are a few reasons a light can make that irritating buzzing sound—and there are a few things you can try to fix it.
Tighten the bulb
The most common reason for a light to make a buzzing sound is if the bulb is loose. This can happen with any type of light bulb, but is most commonly associated with fluorescents. With fluorescent lights, the ballast that controls the flow of electricity to the bulb can also become loose and cause buzzing. The easiest way to address this is to just turn the light off, tighten the bulb, and then turn the light back on. Take care, especially with incandescent bulbs, to let it cool down before touching the surface of the bulb to avoid burning yourself.
Replace the ballast
If adjusting the bulb in your fluorescent light doesn’t work, it might be that the ballast has gone bad. This can cause a vibration in the fixture that will make a buzzing sound. The ballast is an electromagnetic resistor that regulates the flow of electricity to the fluorescent tubes. To fix this, you’ll need to turn off the breaker that goes to the fixture and remove the cover over the ballast. Then, you will need to undo the wires and remove the affected ballast. Make sure to leave enough wire—at least three inches—to wire in the new ballast. Then, replace the ballast and reconnect the wires, following the color coding on the fixture. You can reassemble your light and turn the breaker back on to test your repair.
Update the dimmer
For LED bulbs, a common cause of buzzing is a dimmer switch that’s meant for an incandescent bulb being used with an LED bulb. This incompatibility can cause the electronic components in an LED to vibrate, making a buzzing sound. To address this, you will need to replace your dimmer switch with one that’s compatible with LED lights. You should consult the packaging of your particular LED bulb, but CL, ELV, and LED+ dimmers are compatible with most LED bulbs.
Other common problems with LEDs
If your LED light is buzzing and there’s not a dimmer in sight, chances are that it’s caused by loose wiring. If that’s the case, you can swap out the bulb, or you might need to flip the breaker off to investigate the light fixture itself. If all the wiring looks to be snug, it could be that the type of LED bulb you’re using isn’t compatible with the fixture it’s in. Check the package to see if you’re within the recommended wattage for the bulb. It’s also possible the bulb is defective, so try swapping it for a different one to see if the buzzing stops.
When to contact an electrician
In rare circumstances, a buzzing sound can come from the wiring in a switch or connection in your home’s wiring. If you hear buzzing coming from the wiring or the switch as opposed to the light itself, you should turn the breaker off that powers that wiring and call an electrician. Such buzzing can indicate a dangerous short that could pose a fire risk.
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