Is Your Light Switch Going Bad?


Light switches are about as normal in our day to day life as putting on clothes or driving to where we need to go. Commonly found in every home with electric lights, these simple devices have one function: to complete or interrupt a circuit in order to turn the lights on or off. We take them for granted or hardly ever think about them because they often last for decades without any maintenance more than the occasional cleaning from all the hands that touch them.

However, a failing switch could be a serious issue. Switches will eventually get old and wear out, and when they do, the risk for a failure increases, which could spark a serious electrical fire. Want to prevent this? Know the signs of a failing switch and replace it as soon as you start to notice them. Here are just a few tell-tale signs of a switch that’s on its last legs.

Listen Closely

The first sign of a switch that’s on its way out is the sounds it makes when you flip it on. A switch that emits a crackling, popping, or hissing noise when turned on is one that’s experiencing electrical arcing on the inside, which poses a serious fire hazard. Arcing is when the electricity itself jumps between two conductors that aren’t necessarily connected, but in close proximity, and this is usually indicative of the switch getting old and wearing out. The more times it arcs, the more likely it will be that one day this arc catches something inside your wall on fire.

Trust Your Feeling

A switch that’s flipped on shouldn’t change temperatures at all unless it has a locator LED on the inside to make it visible in the dark. Most switches should feel exactly the same to the touch as when you flipped them on initially. If a switch for some reason feels warm to the touch or the switch plate (the part that’s mounted to the wall) feel warm, then you could have a short or some other form of a serious issue. Shut off the light and call a Marietta electrician right away.

Look for Issues

Finally, if you flip the switch and there’s a delay in how long it takes the light to turn on, then your switch is probably wearing out. This is not usually a fire hazard, but simply an indicator that the contacts in the switch are wearing out after years of use. That means it’s time to replace it with a new switch, which you can do at home without too much difficulty and with just a few simple tools.

Experiencing an electrical issue with one of your switches? Call Lightning Bug Electric today at (404) 471-3847 to schedule a service!
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