How to Fix a Buzzing or Humming Dimmer Switch
By: Julie Day
My dining room chandelier is operated by a dimmer switch, but every time we dim the lights, there’s an annoying buzzing or humming sound. What’s wrong and how can we fix it?
Talk about mood lighting! If you don’t like serving dinner with a nice buzz, the good news is that you can probably fix the problem either by replacing the bulbs or the dimmer switch itself.
Dimmer switches work by chopping up the AC current flowing between the switch and the light. Rather than literally “dimming” the light itself, these switches actually cause the current to undulate or flicker extremely rapidly, so that to our human eyes, it appears that there is less light. The interrupted current can produce a vibration in the electromagnetic field within the light bulb filament or within the switch itself, which can cause a humming or buzzing noise.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce or eliminate the annoying sound:
- Consider Lighting Usage: If you always use the lights on a dimmed setting, consider installing lower wattage bulbs so the dimmer doesn’t have to work as hard.
Also, don’t forget that incandescent bulbs are phasing out! Dimmer switches won’t work with CFL bulbs unless the bulb is rated as “dimmable,” and even then older dimmer switches may not work properly with CFLs. So if you’re replacing your dimmer switch, be sure to get one that’s designed to work with compact fluorescents and LEDs, such as these from Lutron, and choose bulbs that are rated as dimmable.