When you turn a light on, you may notice a slight spark. The spark occurs because a circuit is completed when the switch is turned on. In some cases, it may not be a cause for alarm, but a spark may also result in excess heat that can cause a number of adverse events to occur.

Larger Sparks Could Melt Plastic or Wires

One of the primary concerns about sparking is that it can generate a significant amount of heat. At first, the heat has the potential to melt plastic and fuse the contacts together. If this happens, you will likely encounter a short circuit situation, which could then increase the risk of a fire that could spread quickly through your property.

The Signs of a Potentially Hazardous Situation

When you touch the light switch, it should be cool or cold to the touch depending on whether you have a dimmer or toggle switch. In some cases, a dimmer switch will radiate additional heat if you touch it after having just used it in the past several minutes.

However, you should be alarmed if a switch is extremely warm hours after it has last been used. This is a clear indication that something is wrong with some part of the electrical system responsible for a given switch.

You may also want to contact a professional if you notice melted plastic or scorch marks on the plate surrounding the switch itself. This is another clear sign of extreme heat building up over a relatively long period of time.

Even if you don’t see anything, you are encouraged to seek help if you notice a burning smell near a light. This may be a clue that it is running too hot and starting to smolder. It’s also possible that there is already an electrical fire behind the light switch that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Of course, if you see smoke or fire, you should call for emergency assistance. This ensures that someone is able to put out the fire if you don’t have an extinguisher or if yours fails for any reason.

You may also have a faulty wire or poor connection if you can hear a buzzing noise coming from the light switch after you turn it on. The same may also be true if the light seems to dim and brighten instead of simply brighten and remain consistent until turned off.

Sparks Can Be a Sign of Old Age

Like anything else in your house, light switches have a limited useful life. As a switch gets older, it may be prone to sparks and other issues that interfere with its ability to do its job safely. A quality light switch will last for about 20 years, so if it was installed more than two decades ago, you should consider having the component replaced. If you don’t remember or know when the original installation occurred, you may want to swap it out for a new one just to be safe.

Have Someone Else Replace the Switch for You

If you do realize that your sparking light switch needs to be replaced, you should call a professional to do the job for you. This is primarily because any type of electrical work can be dangerous for a typical homeowner who doesn’t have the tools or experience needed to do the job safely.

Even if you do know what you’re doing, there is still a risk that you’ll get hurt. For instance, you might burn your hand touching a hot switch plate or accidentally touch a wire that is scalding hot. There is also a chance that you’ll make an unforced error such as forgetting to turn the power off or forgetting to use a voltmeter to ensure that there isn’t any power coming from the switch.

If you do end up making a mistake when replacing a light switch, you’ll be responsible for any damages related to it. This might include the cost of repairing walls, other electrical components or anything else that was burned or otherwise harmed by your action. However, if you have someone else work on your Raleigh, NC home, you won’t be liable for anything that happens.

How Old Is Your Home’s Wiring?

It’s typically a good idea to have your home rewired every 20 years or so. If the wiring in your house is older than that, it could be even more susceptible to overheating if a light switch starts to go bad. Therefore, you may want to consider having your entire home’s wiring replaced if you decide that you need to replace a faulty switch. This may be an even better decision if multiple switches are malfunctioning in your home.

If you are in need of electrical service, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Dawson's Electric today! In addition to replacing light switches, we can also install EV charging stations or whole-home generators on your property in Raleigh. We can also upgrade your home’s existing electrical panel or add outdoor lighting to help your property function in a safe and effective manner now and in the future.

company icon