It’s easy to take your home’s light switches for granted. After all, the majority of them will last for a decade – or longer – and besides the occasional cleaning, they are pretty much maintenance free. However, time and wear and tear will eventually take their toll, and you may discover that your light switch is no longer working like it should.
The good news is, this isn’t something you have to guess about. There are a few tell-tale signs of a problem, which are listed here.
Something Suddenly “Feels” Different
Have you noticed that, all of the sudden, something about your light switch just feels different? The fact is, this is something you have been using for years so you shouldn’t ignore this feeling. In the best-case scenario, this is just an early warning that you are going to have to replace your light switch in the near future. Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario is that the switch is now a fire hazard.
Strange Sounds When Flipping the Switch
A common indication of a problem with a light switch is if you notice some type of unusual sound when you turn it on or off. This may be a hissing, popping or cracking sound when you flip the switch. In most cases, these sounds are being produced by live electricity that is arching inside of the switch. If not addressed, this could lead to a serious problem.
Strange Feeling when You Touch the Light Switch
If there aren’t any unfamiliar sounds when you use the switch, you may still notice an issue when you touch it. If the switch itself or the switch plate feels hot, then this is an indication of a serious electrical issue and a fire hazard. There may be too much voltage moving through the switch or there may be upstream problems with the wiring inside of your home’s walls.
Keep in mind, it is completely normal for some light switches to feel slightly warm from time to time. This is especially common if you have dimmer switches installed, which have additional components behind the switch plate that will generate small amounts of heat. In this situation, you won’t need to call an electrician. However, if the heat becomes excessive, or you can’t touch the light switch or plate, then you should contact an electrician for help immediately.
There’s a Delay
Your eyes can also let you know when your light switch isn’t performing properly. If you notice there’s a delay between the time you flip the switch and when the light actually comes on, then there is a good chance that the electrical contacts that are inside of the switch have begun to wear out. While this isn’t a fire hazard, the switch is eventually going to stop working completely. Now is the time to have it replaced.
There’s no reason to panic if your light switch needs to be replaced. For most electricians this is a simple job and one that can be handled quickly.