How To Stop Dimmer Switches From Humming

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017

Get rid of the humming noise by switching bulbs or replacing the switch.

FH06MAR_DIMSWI_01-2Family Handyman
Humming dimmer switches are a surprisingly common problem. We'll show you simple DIY fixes that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

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An hour or less
Less than $20

Solve a humming dimmer switch problem

Replace the bulb

Try the easy fix first: replace the bulb with a different type or brand.

Replace the dimmer

High-quality dimmer switches are less likely to cause humming.

You might think that a dimmer turns down the lights by turning down the power flow. But it actually works like a super-fast strobe, switching the power on and off dozens of times per second. This electrical pulsation causes the filaments in light bulbs to vibrate and that creates the humming sound you hear. An easy solution-which usually works-is to try different brands of bulbs. Some bulbs have beefier filaments, which vibrate less.

You can even try “rough-use” bulbs meant for garage-door openers or trouble lights. These bulbs have heavy filaments but are several times the cost of regular bulbs. If bulb switcheroo doesn’t stop the hum, upgrade your dimmer switch. High quality, more expensive dimmers usually dampen the electrical pulse better than the inexpensive types. Swapping out a dimmer switch is usually a simple matter of disconnecting and reconnecting three wires. Just be sure to work safely. Turn off the power to the circuit-and make sure it’s off using a non-contact voltage detector.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire stripper/cutter

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • High quality dimmer switch
  • Light bulb (different type or brand)
  • Wire nuts