Diagnosing Signs of a Bad Light Switch

At My Buddy the Electrician, we’re proud to serve as your residential and commercial electricians for all related needs. From major electrical builds in new homes or buildings to simple areas of electrical repair and maintenance plus everything in between, we’re here to safely and affordably fill all your electrical needs in a timely manner.

Among the simpler areas we’re happy to assist clients with regularly: Identifying a faulty light switch that needs to be replaced or re-wired. How can you tell if this is an issue to be concerned about in a given light switch, rather than an issue with a bulb or some other problem? Here’s a quick primer on a few of the telltale warning signs of a defective wall light switch.

signs bad light switch


There are a couple types of sparks that may emanate from light switches on occasion – one is a possible sign of a light switch issue while the other is a rare occurrence that isn’t actually too problematic. Here’s how to separate them:

  • If you notice an occasional small spark specifically when flipping the light switch off, you may be experiencing what’s called load arc – this takes place when connections within the switch are pulled away from each other, and it’s not actually much of a concern unless it’s happening constantly.
  • Either when turning the light on or off, if you notice a large spark and an audible snapping sound, this is a clear sign that the light switch has gone bad and must be replaced. In some cases, smoke or scorch marks will accompany this sound and spark.

Flickering or Other Issues

Are you dealing with a certain light switch that doesn’t ever seem to get it right? Sometimes the light turns right on, but other times it will flicker for a bit first or simply not turn on at all. You’ve tried changing the bulb with no success.

In this case, it’s likely the switch is experiencing issues. At the very least you’ll need an electrician to check out your wiring, and it’s possible you’ll need to replace the switch.

Warmth to Touch

For dimmers and related switch types, a bit of warmth after a light has been on for a long period of time is normal. For standard toggle switches, however, such temperature is not normal at all, and signals a possible concern in the switch that should likely be replaced.


Light switches operating properly do not make noise. For this reason, if you begin to hear noises like clicking, buzzing, popping or others, something has gone wrong and you should speak to our electricians about repair or replacement.

For more on the telltale signs of a faulty light switch, or to learn about any of our other electrical services, speak to the staff at My Buddy the Electrician today.