If you are like most people, you probably don’t pay much attention to the light switches in your home. While the majority of these will last for decades without issues, besides needing to be cleaned from time to time, there are a few things to watch for. After all, constant use can take its toll and you may discover that your light switch is beginning to how the signs of failure.
Trust Your Gut
If you notice that something suddenly feels different or “off” with the light switch you have been using for years, you shouldn’t ignore it. The best situation is that it is an early warning sign that the switch needs to be replaced, but in the worst case, it may indicate the possibility of a fire without immediate attention and repairs.
Differences that May Indicate a Light Switch Issue
A difference you may notice with your light switch when it is nearing the end of its useful life is a strange or unusual sound. This may be a popping, hissing or crackling sound when you are flipping the switch. In most cases, these sounds are created by live electricity that is arching inside the switch. Over time, this may create a hazardous situation.
If you don’t notice any strange sounds, you may still be aware of a problem by touching the switch. If the switch plate or switch itself feels hot, it can indicate a serious electrical problem, as well as a fire risk. The issue may be there is too much voltage coursing through the switch, or issues with the wiring in the walls.
Keep in mind, it is normal for light switches to feel slightly warm, especially if you have dimmer switches installed. There is no reason to contact an electrician if the heat is mild. If the plate or switch is so hot that you would not keep your had on it very long, then this indicates a serious problem, and the need for professional help.
The last warning you may have of an issue with your light switch is if you notice a delay between when you flip the switch and when the light comes on. If this happens, there is a good chance that the electrical contacts present in the switch are beginning to wear out. While this isn’t typically a fire hazard, the switch is probably going to stop working at some point. It is best to go ahead, and have it replaced by a professional.
Updating Your Switches
If your light switch is worn out and needs replacing, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. This is a quick and easy job for any licensed electrician. You may want to consider having a dimmer switch installed during the replacement, as this allows you to adjust the brightness in the space.
In any case, if you notice any of the issues mentioned above, investing in a replacement switch is the best course of action. This will eliminate the problem, while safeguarding your family.