Is your light switch crackling? A popping or crackling sound when switching on your light can seem a little scary. No need to panic though, it could be several things. It may mean a simple fix or that the switch needs to be replaced. It’s always good to pay attention to your light switches. If you notice something different don’t ignore it. Anything to do with electrics could pose a potential safety hazard.
We are an award-winning, family-owned trade services company that has been taking care of Sydney’s lighting and electrical needs since 1988. In this article, we walk you through what to do if you notice your light switch crackling.
How Does a Regular Light Switch Work?
This may seem obvious to an electrician. But it is probably something that the everyday person has never thought of. We simply go into our homes, press a switch and there’s light! It is something we take for granted. Some light switches can last for decades, so we may never have to think about maintenance. A switch gets tonnes of use though, so it is not surprising that they sometimes wear out.
We know that electricity powers our lights, but let’s look a little further. Your light is powered by a constant current of electricity. Switching the toggle up, to the “on” position, completes this circuit and your light will come on. Switching the toggle down, to the “off” position, closes the circuit and your light will go off. Pretty simple, isn’t it? There are more complicated light switches, but this is the most basic. It is known as a standard single-pole light switch. It is what you will find in most homes.
Is a Crackling Light Switch Dangerous?
Potentially. That is why it is important to call a professional electrician if you are unsure. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Electricity is not something to mess around with. It can cause nasty shocks. Sometimes the crackling noise you hear may just require a simple fix. This could mean tightening inner screws. Sometimes it can mean replacing the whole unit. A professional electrician will be able to determine exactly what is going on.
The main danger to watch out for is heat. It is normal for some switches, especially dimmers, to warm up slightly. However, if your switch is hot or burning to touch this could indicate a potential fire hazard. In this scenario, it is best to call a professional immediately.
As well as light switch crackling and heating up, there are other signs to watch out for. Such as a delay in the light coming on after being switched on. You use your lights every day, so you are the best person to notice when something changes. These changes are sometimes normal but make a note and keep an eye on them. This can prevent further damage or safety problems from occurring.
What is Happening When your Light Switch is Crackling?
The constant current of electricity mentioned above is contained within insulated wires. When your light switch is making funny noises, it usually means the electricity inside these wires is arcing or jumping around. Rather than flowing in a constant pathway, the electricity tries to jump between gaps.
You might find this is more common in older houses with older light switches. It is all part of the normal wear and tear process a home goes through over time. This makes it less of an issue in newer homes. Sometimes you may have just gotten unlucky with a dodgy switch. It’s always hard to predict.
What You Can Do to Fix the Crackling Sound from Your Light Switch
If you feel confident to investigate the problem yourself then the first step is turning off the power. This is extremely important. It is a step that people often overlook, but if ignored can lead to serious injury. So, always turn your power off before anything else.
Once your power is off, you can gently remove the cover plate over the light switch. Sometimes the crackling sound may simply be that the screws inside are loose. Go along and make sure each one is tightened. If the noise continues after you have tightened the screws it is likely that the switch needs replacing. Only replace the light switch yourself if it’s something you’re confident to do. Otherwise, call an electrician to help.
If you see any burn marks or melted plastic while looking inside the cover plate, it is a sign that the switch needs replacing.
So, What Next?
Electrical work can be hazardous. It is best to leave tricky jobs up to the professionals. If you are unsure about your light switch problem, then don’t try to sort it out yourself. At Glenco, we have over 30 years of experience and offer top quality service. Call one of our friendly electricians based in Sydney and we will be happy to help.