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Is My Light Switch Going Bad?

Light switches have evolved from the days when they were just metal poles used to close a circuit. Now, we have tons of types of light switches in various colors and designs, but even so, they still wear down just like they did in the past. Throughout a single life switch’s lifespan, it might be used hundreds, possibly thousands of times. We take them for granted so much that we don’t notice when they give us clear signs that they’re failing. In this article, we’ll explore the telltale signs that a light switch might be going bad, and what to do about it.

Why Light Switches Go Bad

Light switches can go bad for several reasons, but most of the time, it’s due to mechanical motion wearing down contacts. As the US Department of Energy reminds us, turning off lights when not in use can save on power consumption. When you keep turning on and off your lights that regularly, those switches become worn down and need to be replaced. The thing about switches is that they let you know when it’s time for you to change them.

Signs It’s Time to Replace your Switch

A handful of very apparent signs show up to let you know that it’s about time you changed your light switch. Among these are:

  • Sparking: No one wants to have their electrical circuits sparking. Sparking is usually a telltale sign of electrical arcing taking place between the contacts. Firetrace informs us that electrical arcing occurs when electric current jumps between separated contact points, bridging the gap, and closing the circuit []. These can be deadly and have the potential to cause fires.
  • Noise: If you flick your light switch and it sounds like there’s a nest of hornets behind it, it’s a good sign that switch needs replacing. Noises such as buzzing, clicking, hissing, or anything else is a blatant sign. If the switch is a dimmer switch, however, the sound might be a false alarm. The dimming effect sometimes causes bulbs to hum.
  • Warm to the Touch: A dimmer switch uses resistance to change the light intensity, and so may be warmer than a regular wall-mounted light switch. Standard toggle switches should not be warm to the touch, and if they are, it suggests a problem in electrical transmission through the switch. This warmth from the switch is another sign the switch may need replacing.
  • Finicky: Sometimes, you can’t really explain what’s wrong with the switch, just that it doesn’t “feel” right. Usually, if a switch loses its “click” or you feel extra resistance to turning it on, the contacts may be worn out. Finicky behavior is an excellent sign that a switch may need to be replaced.

Testing a Light Switch

If you want to test your light switch yourself, that may not be the best idea. The Spruce notes that it’s theoretically possible to get a multimeter and perform tests on the switch. However, the safer and more effective method would be to consult your local electrician and have them guide you. They can even test the switch in front of you, so you can see whether it needs replacement, and then perform the installation for you immediately.

Be Careful Around Faulty Switches

Switches can be the part of an electrical system that we, as consumers, interact with the most. The adage of familiarity breeding contempt comes to mind. People have become so used to switches that they don’t suspect that those switches could be dangerous enough to cause death. That’s the primary reason you should always ask an electrical professional to help you with the installation or testing or switches. Even though they seem innocent enough, an electrical shock could still cause severe damage and even death. Let the professionals from LiveWire handle your light switch testing and replacement needs. Give us a call today, and we’ll be glad to swing by and test your switches for you!

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