01 of 05
Wall Switch Troubleshooting and Repair
In your home, you will probably find a few different types of switches controlling light fixtures or electrical outlets.
There are single pole switches controlling things from a single location, three-way switches controlling lights or outlets from two locations and for larger homes or complicated situations, a four way switch may be used to control lighting or outlets from three or more locations. I describe these different types of switches in the tutorial Types of Electrical Switches in the... Home where I’ll also explain how to tell what type of switch you have.
When a switch stops “switching” then it’s time to troubleshoot and repair or replace the switch. Before you do any work on a switch, make sure power is turned off at the electrical panel. You may also want to use a circuit tracer to identify the circuit breaker or fuse you need to turn off.
Now let’s take a look at some common problems and solutions to electrical switch repair in the following pages of this tutorial.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Problem: Flickering Light Fixture
Do you have a light bulb that flickers at odd times? Maybe when you walk by or touch the lamp, or just seemingly for no reason? If so, try these possible repairs. The solution may be as simple as tightening a light bulb setting.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Problem: Light Fixture or Wired Device Does Not Work
Are you trying to figure out why a light bulb, appliance or light fixture is not working when you flip the switch? Usually it's a simple solution like a burnt out light bulb. That is especially common if you are using an unreliable CFL light bulb. Other reasons may be more complicated like a faulty device or short circuit. Try these repairs for a solution.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
Problem: Circuit Breaker Trips or Fuse Blows When Switch Turns On
Do you turn on a switch and "POP," the circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows? If so, the problem could be anything from a loose wire to a short circuit. A short circuit is caused when the hot wire (black wire) touches another hot wire or touches a white neutral wire. A break in a wire in the circuit can also cause this problem. Try these repairs to stop a tripping breaker.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Switch Feels Warm or Hot or Buzzes When In Use
Does your switch or outlet feel warm or even hot to the touch? If so, this can be a very serious problem and needs immediate attention. Review these steps to diagnose the possible problem (Note: This does not apply to dimmers in dimming mode).