A malfunctioning light switch often doesn’t seem like a big deal. However, a bad light switch can indicate if there are other electrical issues, such as a wiring problem. Underlying issues or a defective light switch itself can contribute to something as bad as a home fire. Here are some of the most common problems to help realize when there’s an issue with a wall switch and when it’s time to call a professional electrical contractor.

The Light Doesn’t Turn On Right Away

If there’s a delay between when you flip the switch and the light turns on or off, or the light flickers before staying on, parts inside the switch are wearing out. The electrical contacts may not be making the connections they’re supposed to. Even if the issue occurs sporadically, a loose connection or short circuit may be to blame.

Mechanical Problems

Light switch issues are often caused by a broken mechanism. If there are any mechanical issues, the switch will likely need to be replaced. Signs of mechanical failure include the switch not turning on regardless of how many times you flip it. Light switch replacement should always be handled by a professional, as doing it yourself risks shock and injury.

Flickering Lights

A light bulb may flicker at random or when you walk by. There can be various causes. The bulb may need to be tightened or there may be a loose wire connected to the bulb or the switch. Many people pass off a flickering bulb as no big deal, but oftentimes there is a clear reason why this is happening.

Tripped Circuit Breakers

It’s not always easy to tie a tripped breaker or fuse burnout to a problem with a single switch. The issue isn’t always with the breaker or fuse. A bad light switch can be one cause. If there isn’t anything wrong around the electrical panel, a malfunctioning switch may need to be replaced. Other times, the fuse or breaker might just need to be changed.


Tiny sparks can often be seen when you turn a light switch off. Electricity normally arcs between the contacts as they move apart. However, if the spark is large, makes a sound you can distinctly hear, or is accompanied by smoke, this is due to light switch problems that must be addressed immediately.


A buzzing, sizzling, or popping sound from a light switch can be due to a loose wire or switch problem. Dimmer switches may buzz because of the design of dimmable light bulbs. The effect of dimming sometimes causes vibration in a bulb’s filament, so check the bulb first.


While a dimmer switch may feel warm as it dissipates heat, a typical toggle-type switch should always feel cool. A warm switch means there’s an issue with electrical flow. Also, the switch may not be rated for the application and be overloaded, so should be replaced with one that can handle a higher current. Loose wire connections can cause switches to be warm too. In any case, an overheated switch is a fire hazard and should be replaced.

Contact Express Electrical Services

A premier electrical services company in Los Angeles, we’re familiar with all possible light switch issues and provide professional light switch repair and replacement. Our team of certified, licensed electricians assist customers throughout Southern California. We’re also open during the coronavirus pandemic, keeping our customers safe with social distancing and PPE. For light switch help by a certified electrician, call us at 855-590-8785.