Why do my lights blink on and off when it rains?

Lightning bolt

Living in Vancouver, or any city in the Lower Mainland, means that you’ve experienced your fair share of rain showers. Some days it feels like it’s never going to stop raining. Sometimes it rains so much that you may or may not notice that your lights have just flickered on and off.

But you probably have noticed it before, a very quick flicker of the lights. Sometimes it happens so fast that you might even ask the others in the room if it happened at all. Once it’s been confirmed that you’re not seeing things, and the lights have come back on, you and everyone else probably just go on with your days.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that our lights blink on and off when it rains?

In Vancouver and throughout BC, we are lucky to have so many awesome and huge trees growing everywhere. But during bad weather, when the wind and rain are blowing everything around, the trees and branches can affect the power lines. When trees sway or whole branches snap off and touch or fall right onto the lines during high winds, the effect might be seen in the lightbulbs at home.

The wayward trees and branches cause the lights in your home to momentarily blink on and off because the system will notice the anomaly and automatically shut the power down to isolate the problem so that more serious damage doesn’t occur. When the lines are hit by the trees, the momentary blink will happen thanks to a piece of equipment called a recloser.

The recloser’s function is important to manage and control damage along the power line. The recloser will open momentarily when a surge occurs, then close again to try to restore the power. It may quickly open and close a few times in just a couple of seconds in order to ensure the problem is no longer there. What you will see, however, is that the lights in your house blink off and on a couple of times.

A powerful flash of lightning or thunder can also be the source of the lights blinking on and off because it can jolt the main power supply and affect the seamless flow towards houses.

Another reason is that during a longer spell of bad weather, rain builds up and forms ice along the power line so that they “gallop.” Galloping happens because the extra weight from the ice and snow buildup causes the lines to swing in the wind and touch or hit each other. This can translate in your home as a momentary outage or the blinking of your lights.

Wild weather and weird electrical stuff often occur at the same time. Thanks to technological advancements and preparedness, electrical problems are often fixed before you know it. However, if you find that the electrical system in your home is not working as you know it should, don’t hesitate to call your local residential electrician to find out why.

Home electricians like the ones you will find at BPM Electric are trained to deal with home electrical problems caused by poor weather. If something seems out of the ordinary with your electrical system, rain or shine, give us a call — we are always happy to help out and put your mind at ease. Contact our electric experts.