What Are the Causes of Power Fluctuation in a Home?

A steady flow of electricity into a home's wiring ensures all of its lighting, heating, cooling and personal electronics function properly. Power fluctuations change the amount of power available for those devices to draw. Finding and fixing the cause of the fluctuations prevents serious damage to sensitive televisions, computers and other equipment.

Elimnating the causes of power fluctuation can be tricky.

Bad Connection

Minor power fluctuations in a home often originate at a connection in the power system, either where the home and the main line connect or at a junction in the power line. The metal that forms the connection becomes corroded over time, creating minor symptoms such as flickering lights, especially when wind causes the power line to sway or move. If the corrosion is in the power line, then the power company must repair it at its cost.


Running the wrong combination of appliances and sensitive electronics on the same circuit leads to a serious power fluctuation limited to that particular circuit area. Many small appliances, including hairdryers and cordless phones, create surges on the circuit to which they're attached. Symptoms from these fluctuations show up in lights attached to the specific circuit or flickering and malfunctioning electronics. Moving the offending appliance or electronic device to a circuit without sensitive electronics on it solves the interference problem.

Wiring Issues

Improperly designed wiring leaves a home with less electricity than needed, or it allows ungrounded outlets to leak electricity and cause hard-to-solve power fluctuation problems. Wiring also can become disconnected or damaged by insects and other animals that nest in walls. Problems with the home's wiring create fluctuations when energy draw increases. A qualified electrician has equipment to locate the problem and repair the wiring without having to open all of the home's walls.

Natural Causes

Lightning strikes, birds or squirrels on power lines and falling tree limbs all cause power fluctuations that are hard to avoid and usually short-lived. While lightning and fallen tree limbs usually lead to a complete power outage, animals or debris hanging on the lines leads to brownouts or surges in electricity. Surges and swells in electrical current often damage computers and other electronics, but a simple surge protector deals with the extra electricity before it reaches those devices.