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How to fix flickering strip lights

Strip lights can become a nightmare when they start to flicker. This can not only be very irritating but will probably mean sooner or later you are going to be left in the dark. The important thing then when your lights start flickering, is not to ignore them. In fact, fixing them is a relatively straightforward job, here is how to do it.

The starter

While most modern lights and lamps are self-starting, older types are generally fitted with something called a 'starter'. When the light starts flickering, this is probably what is wrong, so the starter will need replacing. More often than not, in order to get to the starter, you will need to take out the lighting bulbs. Single-pin and double-pin tubes Rapid-start tubes have two pins at each end. To remove a double-pin (rapid-start) tube, give it a quarter turn so that the pins line up with the slots in the sockets, then gently pull the tube out. Instant-start tubes have one pin at each end. One of the sockets that holds a single-pin tube is spring loaded. Press the tube toward the spring-loaded socket and gently pull the opposite end out. Once you have removed the tube, you will then see the starter. This is basically a round plug that fits into a hole in the light's casing. Check to see if the plug is firmly in place. If it is, it will need replacing. Simply pull the plug out (it may need a bit of force), then take it to a hardware store to ensure you get a good match. Then reassemble the strip lamp with the new plug, your lamp should now light without flickering.

The ballast

The ballast is the main mechanism on every fluorescent light. This is essentially a device that determines the level of current that filters through the light. This device is fairly easy to replace. If all the connections on the ballast are secure, replacement will be necessary. Simply remove the faceplate that sits behind the light bulb and disconnect the ballast from any wires.
Note:
In older lamps, it is generally more cost effective to replace the entire fixture than to replace the ballast alone.

Endnote

Always take your old tubes and ballasts to a recycling centre. They contain trace amounts of toxic mercury and should never be just thrown away.

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