Don’t Panic: Solutions to Common Light Switch Problems in the Home


Light switches are an integral component of any home or office lighting that enable users to turn the lights on and off. Despite being built to last and usually being very reliable, light switches can experience problems over time and fail to operate correctly. In this article, we will explain and discuss the four most common issues typically encountered with light switches, their causes and possible solutions.

1. Broken Toggles: In the simplest terms, a light switch consists of an internal rocking lever and an external toggle switch. Over time, wear and tear can cause this lever to become disconnected or loose, which will prevent it from activating the contactors in the switch, leading to it becoming unreliable. You can often feel this problem by touching the switch and noticing the lack of tension on the plastic toggle. The best solution is to replace the switch, so if you suspect your switch is faulty, it’s recommended that you purchase a new one.

Don't Panic: Solutions to Common Light Switch Problems in the Home

2. Buzzing/Frying Noises and Corrosion: These type of problems are usually caused by a common issue, a corrosion build-up inside the switch, which can lead to bad connections and intermittent contact, causing a buzzing or frying noise, as well as the smell of ozone. This can be made worse by the build-up of heat, which can eventually loosen the terminal screw. If you encounter this issue, it’s recommended that you check all connections and screws for looseness and, if necessary, unscrew and re-tighten them to make sure there’s a proper connection.

Don't Panic: Solutions to Common Light Switch Problems in the Home

3. Light Flickering: While this is often assumed to be a problem with the switch itself, it could actually be a problem with the light fixture or an issue with one of the connection or terminal screws. If a wire is loose or corroded, it can create a bad connection, electrical breakdown and result in flickering lights. Again, check connections and wiring and replace parts if they’re loose or corroded.

Don't Panic: Solutions to Common Light Switch Problems in the Home

4. Light Bulb Not Working: Again, this is often assumed to be a switch issue, but it could actually be an issue with the socket. If the return path for the light socket has become compromised, the hot contact at the center of the socket may have lost its stiffness, preventing a positive contact with the end of the light bulb and leading to it not working. This can happen with lower quality sockets and material and is usually a good indication that the socket needs to be replaced.

Light switch problems can sometimes be difficult to determine or fix, but with the right troubleshooting, it’s usually possible to diagnose and fix the issue yourself. As always, when working on any electrical wiring, it’s important to remember to turn the circuit breaker OFF for extra safety.

  • November 25, 2020