Light switches are common in the household and have become essential fixtures in most daily activities. Because they last so long and we consistently use them, it’s easy to overlook their upkeep. However, you may have heard a noise from your switch or have a flickering light in your home that you cannot resolve. Before calling the Electricians Service Team to resolve your electrical issue, this article section can help you figure out what’s causing your electrical switch to go bad. Your outlet and switches must be inspected throughout the process, but be careful of electrical hazards. In that case, call a professional electrician.
- Various lighting issues – Your lights do not turn on, take a long time to turn on or flicker, and replacing the bulb does not solve the problem. Some bulbs, such as incandescent tube lights, can take several minutes to turn on. We’ve all been in those situations. However, normal light bulbs should illuminate instantly.
- Replace the bulb if it takes more than a minute or if it flickers. If the problem persists, a new switch is most likely required.
2. Clicking sounds – The switch makes a clicking sound. The only sound you should hear is the one the switch makes when it is flipped. Check for loose wire connections, as this can sometimes be the cause. However, these sounds are most likely the result of a worn or defective switch.
- If you hear any buzzing, clicking, or other unusual sounds coming from inside the switch, it may be time to replace it. Some light bulbs may also buzz. If this is the case, try to install a different type or brand of the bulb, not just the same brand type. If that doesn’t work, take a closer look at the electrical switch and replace it if necessary.
3. Sparks – When you notice a spark when you flip the switch, the switch must be replaced. A natural spark can occur within the switch, but you won’t notice it unless you turn off the lights and look inside the switch. It is caused by a load arc, which occurs when electricity jumps between the contacts as they pull apart. It comes to a halt when the contacts are sufficiently separated. A large spark or a spark that makes an audible noise, on the other hand, can indicate a faulty light switch.
- However, you should replace the switch if you see scorch markings after the spark or if it pops or smokes. Delaying this replacement may become a safety hazard in your home.
4. Warm to the touch – Dimmer switches get warm, which is completely normal. On the other hand, a standard light switch should not be warm to the touch.
- If this is the case, it is time to replace the electrical switch.
What Causes A Light Switch To Go Bad?
Light switches can also degrade over time. Although it is not a recurring problem for most households, every light switch will fail at some point. However, because they are simple devices with few moving parts, they are built to last and do not break down frequently. In fact, they typically last so long that we frequently mistake the issue for being on a light bulb instead of the switch.
How To Test A Light Switch With A Multimeter
You are strongly advised not to attempt any electrical work unless you are completely confident in your abilities. Before doing anything electrical repair in your home, you should know how to turn off the power at the circuit breaker, unwire/rewire the switch, and test it to ensure the power is turned off.
The best and safest way to test the electrical switch is by using a multimeter. Here is a step-by-step procedure for reading the device during testing:
- Set your multimeter to continuity or ohms reading.
- Check that the power is turned off at the circuit breaker.
- Using your multimeter, ensure that the power is turned off.
- Before unscrewing the light switch cover, take note of the wire colors attached to each terminal.
- Determine whether your switch is a single-pole or a three-way switch. Single-pole switches typically have two side terminal screws and a ground screw near one of the ends. A three-way switch will have a dark screw (the “common”) and two normal side terminals (the “travelers”).
- Touch one multimeter leading to each of the side terminals to test a single pole light switch. When you turn on the switch, the multimeter should read 1.
- Hold one multimeter lead to the common screw and touch the other lead to one of the travelers to test a three-way switch. When you turn on the switch, the multimeter should read 1. Then, touch the second lead to the other traveler to put it through the test.
- If this test fails, your switch must be replaced.
6. Once you’ve found a working light switch, carefully install it while the power is still off. Don’t forget to reset the circuit breaker!
Replacing an electrical switch may not be too complicated on paper, but it can be difficult if you are unsure about the state of your wiring, the electrical load on your system, or the age of the last electrical work done in this area of your home. Ultimately, it’s best to consult with an electrical service professional if you have any doubts about any electrical concerns in your household.
Are you unsure about your electrical problem at home? For your safety, consult our professionals at the Electricians Service Team for fast electrical repair and maintenance work on your location. We can also ensure to diagnose underlying electrical problems in your home during the repair process.
To learn more about your electrical switch issues at home, you can also refer to our other articles for information.