How to Repair an Electrical Wall Switch

Electrical wall switch pressed on top and bottom

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

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.

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.

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? The solution may be as simple as tightening a light bulb setting. Learn how to fix a flickering light bulb.

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

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. Learn how to fix light switch breaker overloads.

Exposed blue electrical switch box with short circuit wires

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

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. Learn how to fix a hot or buzzing dimmer switch (note: this does not apply to dimmers in dimming mode).


Watch Now: How to Fix a Hot or Buzzing Dimmer Switch