Ask the Electrician: Is My Light Switch Bad? Here’s How to Tell
Your light switches might be the most taken-for-granted appliance in your home. They’re used thousands of times over the years and rarely ever replaced. But after a while, like most things that get used so frequently, they simply can’t keep it up any longer and wear out.
A bad light switch might not be something you pay attention to. After all, most light switches will continue to work(ish) after their expiration date. It’s up to you to pay attention to the signs and get your light switches replaced when they start to go bad.
Signs of a Bad Light Switch
How can you tell if a light switch has gone bad, you ask? Well, here are five sure signs that it’s time to retire your old, worn out light switches and call an electrician.
1. Your Lights Don’t Always Work
If you flick the switch, a light should come on. But sometimes, if your light switch is tired and worn out, it won’t send power to the fixture. This could result in lights that flicker, come on after a delay, or don’t come on at all.
The easiest way to test if the problem is the switch or your fixture is to replace the bulb. If the problem persists, it’s probably time to call an electrician to figure out whether the fixture is broken or the light switch needs replacing.
2. You Can See Sparks
Your light switches shouldn’t put on a light show of their own. Worn out switches can cause sparks between the connections. This is called a load arc. If you notice any sparks coming from the switch when you turn it off, it’s definitely time for a replacement. While risk is low, load arcs can be a fire hazard.
3. The Switch Makes Strange Noises
Electricity can make clicking, popping, or buzzing noises if wires aren’t connected properly. If the room is bright, you won’t always see sparks coming from your light switches, but you’ll likely hear the noise.
Strange noises emanating from your light switches are a sure sign that it’s time to replace the switch with an updated model.
4. You Can Feel Heat
Light switches aren’t supposed to put off any heat, so if your fingers get a little toasty turning off your lights, it’s time to swap out the switch. Heat indicates that there’s a problem with the electrical connection. Again, the threat level is low, but any electrical problems come with a chance of fire.
Dimmer switches are the exception to the rule. It’s perfectly normal for a dimmer switch to be a little warm after being on for a while - though a really hot dimmer can be a problem, too. When in doubt, call an electrician to check it out.
5. Switch Loses Resistance
Turning on your light fixtures should come with a satisfying click of the light switch. If it turns into more of a slide, it could be a problem with the switch. Changes in resistance—either not enough resistance or if it becomes hard to flip—can indicate that your switch is wearing out, and it’s time for a replacement.
Time to Replace Your Faulty Light Switches
It’s possible to replace light switches on your own, but it’s better—and safer—to let the pros handle it. Only a trained electrician will be able to assess the situation and swap out your switches in a safe manner. If you notice any signs that your light switches are going bad, don’t risk doing it yourself, just call the friendly electricians at IES Home Services. We’d be happy to swap your worn-out switches and light up your home!
IES Home Electrical Services is a McKinney-based electrical company dedicated to providing area homeowners with the best quality of work and unparalleled customer service, backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Proudly serving McKinney, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Gunter, Anna, Aubrey, Bonham, Crossroads, Melissa, Sherman, Farmersville, Little Elm, Princeton, Prosper, Van Alstyne, Hackberry, and Denison.
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