Solution for Sparking Light Switches

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Sparking Light Switches: Why You May See a Spark in Your Wall Switch and What to do About It.

Cause and Solution for Sparking Light Switches

Electrical Question: Why do my light switches snap and spark when I turn them on?.

  • I have a house and when the light switches are turned on the switch will snap and spark.
  • Also the receptacle boxes for lights have burn marks around them.

This electrical question came from: Lee, a Homeowner from Sarnia Ontario, Canada.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Lee.

Sparking Light Switches

Why You May See a Spark in Your Wall Switch and What to do About It

Electrical Loads of Light Fixtures and Switches

  • The occurrence of a visual spark from inside a light switch is most likely an indication that the light switch is beginning to wear out which may be due to a large electrical circuit load that is passing through the light switch.
  • A typical light switch will snap into the On position however there is a fast arc or spark that will occur between the contacts just before the point of contact.
  • This spark may be noticeable when switching on a large lighting load such as dual heat lamps of a bathroom ceiling exhaust fan combination fixture.

Burnt Receptacle Outlet

  • The description of both a sparking light switch and burnt receptacles may in fact be related to the same problem.
  • If the light switch is controlling a receptacle where high amounts of electrical power is being consumed then this is one in the same problem.
  • The light switch is sparking due to the large load that is being plugged into the receptacle outlet which is causing a burning effect on the receptacle outlet.

Rated Size of  a Light Switch

  • In some cases it may be found that the light switch that has been installed is rated for 15 amps and the circuit is rated for 20 amps.
  • In most cases one switch will not control a 15 or 20 amp load however where high watt loads are switched it is best to make sure to use a good quality brand light switch that is rated for the circuit amperage.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

3 Responses to “Solution for Sparking Light Switches”
  1. Tracey anwar says:

    When I switch my light off I can see a very faint spark in the bottom left side of the switch. Is this dangerous? Do I need an electrician or is it an easy fix that can be done on my own. It only sparks when I switch it off.

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Andrew,
    From what has been described, it appears that the electrical wiring has been drilled into and sustained damage which caused the circuit breaker to trip off. Therefore, and for the sake of safety, the portion of the wall where the work was being done should be opened so the electrical wiring may be inspected, and then repairs should be made as needed.
    I hope this helps,

  3. andrew says:

    Last night I was installing a shelve to a wall and when I drilled a screw on the wall (using a driller), I saw some sparks on the light switch (we opened the plating to find the stud) and then the lights turned off. I went for the breaker and turned it back on and it’s all working now.

    Should I be concerned? Please let me know what to do.


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