Have you ever switched a light on and heard a crackling sound coming from the switch? We have had hundreds of service requests over the years for variations of this problem. It’s understandably something that concerns homeowners—electrical safety should be taken seriously.
But before deciding you have a fire hazard and need an electrician, let’s cover some basics and explain what may be happening.
A light switch works by connecting two conductors to turn the switch on, then disconnects the conductors when you flip it off. Over time, these conductors can get worn or dirty, and may sometimes make a poor connection. In that case, you might hear a slight crackling sound.
This in itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it’s worth you investigating. Paying attention to the type of switch and the temperature of the switch plate can help you decide if it’s time to call a professional. There are two main types of light switches— toggle switches and dimmers, and they work differently.
A little crackling sound on occasion isn’t usually an issue with toggle switches. Typically, unless the switch plate is getting warm to the touch, there’s probably little to worry about.
But if that crackling sound is sustained when the switch is turned on, or the switch plate is hot to the touch, we recommend having it looked at by a professional. It’s a good idea to leave the switch off until an electrician is able to check it out.
Dimmer switches may get warm to the touch, but that’s normal for many types of dimmers, and is often not a problem. But if the dimmer is more than slightly warm—especially if it’s hot to the touch—that’s when you should turn the switch off and call a professional.
If your toggle or dimmer switch keeps crackling when you turn it on, should you replace it? Possibly. Switches aren’t designed to last forever, and they are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace. If you’re handy, there are plenty of blogs and videos on how to do this.
As always with electrical issues, though, if you’d feel more comfortable having a professional take care of it, then it’s a good idea to call one. We’d be happy to help.