Problems with light switches can be a very common occurrence in the home. Although sometimes the solution can be quite simple, fixing a switch problem often requires a certain comfort level for working with electricity. Without the proper electrical knowledge, performing your own repairs can be quite dangerous. If you have a light switch in need of repair, you should first assess the situation and determine if you have the skill and knowledge to fix it. If not, you should always contact a licensed electrician. Here is a list of some common switch issues which you can use to help troubleshoot your own problem.
Tripped Circuit Breakers and Burned-Out Fuses
A tripped circuit breaker or burned-out fuse could make you erroneously believe that something is wrong with your light switch. Before you automatically head to the store for a replacement switch, you should first take a look at your fuse or circuit breaker box. If this is where the problem lies, resetting the breaker or replacing the fuse should fix the problem. However, if you experience the problem frequently, it is probably a sign that the circuit breaker or fuse has too heavy of a load. If this is the case, you should contact an electrician.
Just as with any mechanical device, a light switch can simply break. If you notice that flipping the switch up and down has no effect on the light fixture, or if it feels as though the switch does not hold it’s position properly, the switch probably just needs to be replaced. Although replacing a switch might seem to be a simple task, it should not be attempted on your own if you do not have a good comfort level working with electricity. When performed improperly, a simple light switch replacement job could turn into a dangerous situation.
Glowing, Buzzing or Overheating
These highly visible signs of light switch trouble should be dealt with immediately. If you have an ordinary up and down switch installed, it should never glow, buzz or generate a noticeable amount of heat. If it does, it can be a sign of an overloaded breaker or a loose wire, both of which can be dangerous safety hazards. You should call an electrician immediately when these signs of trouble are first noticed. It is important to note that a moderate amount of heat or a slight buzzing could be normal in the case of a dimmer switch. However, if you have any doubt, it is best to be safe rather than sorry, and simply call an electrician to assess the situation.
Although it can be easy to simply attribute a flickering light to a loose bulb, it could also be the result of a loose or bare wire. If any flickering is observed, you should immediately try tightening the bulb to see if it fixes the situation. If not, you should have the wiring under the cover or plate inspected so that any problems can be properly dealt with. If allowed to continue, the end result could be a fire.