Washing Machine Causing The Lights to Flicker When Running? (6 Reasons)

Are you frustrated when the lights in your home flicker when the washing machine comes on or the agitator cycle starts up? Finding and fixing the underlying cause is not always straightforward and, in case you’re wondering, this issue is not just limited to old washers! Is your washing machine causing lights to flicker when running?

Your lights may flicker when the washing machine is running because of the amount of power required. Home lights may dim momentarily when the washer comes on because of the extra energy needed to get it started. If a problem with the lights continues, there may be a loose wire somewhere or the appliance may not be receiving adequate power.

Read on to find out why the lights in your home or apartment may be flickering when the washer is on, agitating, or spinning, and what you can do to fix the pulsing of the lights for good.

Why your house lights may flicker when the washer is running

Do your lights flicker when the washing machine starts? It’s probably not a laundry-minded ghost, but else could it be?

There are six reasons why the lights in your house can flicker or dim while the washing machine is running:

  1. Extra power draw on start up
  2. Not plugged in completely
  3. Overly sensitive LED lights
  4. Loose neutral or ground wires
  5. Inadequate power from the circuit
  6. Inadequate power from the utility company
Is your washing machine causing lights to flicker when running? Chances are it's an electrical issue.

Some of these potential reasons are much easier to identify and fix than others. Keep reading for what exactly causes each potential issue, and what you can do to solve the problem.

Extra power draw on start up

If the power only flickers or dims for an instant when your washing machine comes up, it’s probably not a big problem.

Washing machines draw extra power when they’re first starting up than they do throughout their run cycle. This can cause the lights in your home to fluctuate momentarily.

A flicker when the washing machine starts is likely the result of the circuit being at capacity when the washer pulls the power required to turn on, but more on that later. 

If this seems to be your issue, I wouldn’t worry about it unless it gets worse.

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Overly sensitive LED lights

LED lights are longer lasting and more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they’re also more expensive. This tradeoff makes sense as you’re not having to buy them as often or pay as much to keep them on. 

Imagine this, though: light bulbs are on the list, you don’t have time to stop at Home Depot, and all that’s available is the big box brand. Surely they’re good enough, right? Not always.

Poor-quality LED lights can flicker with even minor voltage changes. Swap out one or two led bulbs (that flicker) with a name brand and check to see if the flickering clears.

LED light bulbs are more energy efficient than traditional varieties, but lower quality LED bulbs are susceptible to power fluctuations.

Since lower-quality LED lights are more susceptible to power fluctuations, replacing the flickering lights with higher-quality bulbs may make all the difference.

Not plugged in completely

Before you panic about circuit draws and electrical rewiring, make sure the washing machine is completely plugged in!

A loose plug may be making enough of a connection to power the washer, but not to draw that power consistently, causing the lights to flicker throughout the cycle. 

Is the washer plug plugged into an extension or adapter? Both extension cords and adapters can create loose plug connections. This can lead to an unpredictable electrical current (flickering lights) or interrupt the proper grounding of the appliance (increase the likelihood of electrical shock).

Ensure that the washing machine is properly plugged directly into the wall receptacle and watch the lights.

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Loose neutral or ground wires

Even if the washing machine is plugged in properly, the problem may be in the outlet itself.

A loose neutral wire or poor ground connection can cause the lights to flicker. This is similar to the plug not being in the outlet properly, except the problem is inside the outlet.

Pick up an outlet tester from your local hardware store and try plugging it into the washing machine’s receptacle. It will be able to tell you if the outlet is wired properly, although a loose wire may register correctly when you’re testing it. 

Use an outlet tester to find out if your outlet is wired properly.

If that doesn’t work, you may want to consider contacting a licensed electrician to inspect your house’s internal wiring.

Inadequate power from the circuit

The underlying reason that the lights may flicker or dim when your washing machine runs comes down to power. 

A washing machine requires a 120V outlet that is connected to a 20-amp circuit. If for some reason the outlet is connected instead to a 15-amp circuit, running the appliance will overload the electrical circuit. You may also experience this problem if the 20-amp circuit is also being used for other devices.

Bring in a professional electrician if you need to upgrade your washing machine circuit.

If this is the case, you may also find that your washing machine is regularly tripping the breaker.

Unless you have a lot of confidence in your electrical skills, you’ll want to hire a professional to upgrade the circuit.

Inadequate power from the utility

Depending on your power source, dimmed lights may be a sign that your entire electrical flow is lacking.

A washing machine requires a 20-amp circuit to function properly, but that doesn’t mean anything if the household power supply can’t support the household power usage.

If something else in your home is pulling a significant amount of electricity, you may want to avoid running both that device and the washing machine at the same time.

Contact an electrician or your utility provider to determine if there’s an underlying problem.

What causes the lights to dim when the washer runs?

Power use surges may cause your lights to flicker, but you may also experience either a momentary or a more extended dimming.

The lights may be dimming because there’s a momentary voltage drop on the electric circuit the washer is connected to when the washer is switched on or runs. This can happen if the washer is installed on a shared instead of a dedicated electrical circuit.

Consider moving it to a dedicated circuit if the washer was previously installed on a shared circuit. Contact a licensed electrician to move the washer to a dedicated circuit.

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Final thoughts on lights that flicker when the washing machine is running

Along with the HVAC, oven, dishwasher, dryer, and even microwave, your washing machine is one of the larger power draws in your home.

The power surge that happens when your washing machine is activated can lead the lights in your home to flicker or dim. This may be caused by:

  • Extra power draw on start up
  • Not plugged in completely
  • Overly sensitive LED lights
  • Loose neutral or ground wires
  • Inadequate power from the circuit
  • Inadequate power from the utility company

Depending on your specific cause, the solution may be as simple as replacing some light bulbs, or you may need to contact an electrician.

How much power does my washing machine need?

Most washing machines require 120 volts from a 20-amp circuit.

Why do my lights flicker when appliances are on?

Most appliances require a great deal of power to use, although your air conditioner and washing machine need more to get started than they do throughout their run cycle. Because of this, your lights may flicker when they originally come on.

If the lights flicker throughout the time your appliances are running, there is probably an underlying electrical issue. This may be as simple as a loose plug, a loose wire, or inadequate power in the circuit or your home.

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