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Why are My Light Switches Causing Electrical Shock?

Why are My Light Switches Causing Electrical Shock?

Every homeowner uses electricity for various utilities, applications, and entertainment. However, this heavy reliance on electrical energy comes with the risk of electric shock! Electricity can be one of the most dangerous things to work with, and if not properly managed, can result in electrical shocks. With more than thirty thousand non-fatal accidents happening annually, electrical shocks are a serious matter! While there are other potential causes of electrical shocks, light switches are a common culprit as well.

A light switch is a simple mechanical device that features moving parts. Throughout its lifespan, a light switch can potentially get a thousand uses. However, as a result of regular use, your light switch will eventually wear out and start malfunctioning. Common symptoms of a damaged light switch may include temperamental lights, flickering lights and even electrical “sound effects”. While these are less dangerous signs and are obvious, the big problem is when your light switches begin causing electric shocks.

So, why is your light switch causing shocks?

On most occasions, you will feel a shock when you come into contact with the metal screws on your light switch due to static discharge. Static electricity simply refers to the build-up of electrical charges emanating from the surface of objects. This typically occurs when electrons travel from one surface to another via the contact, and if both the surfaces are insulators, an electrical charge will build up. This is usually common in carpeted homes. Fortunately, this type of shock caused by the light switch is less dangerous and can only be irritating at most.

Though a significant number of minor shocks caused by light switches are harmless static shocks, there are instances where you’ll experience a relatively large painful jolt, a clear indication that you have a defective or damaged light switch. In such a case, you’ll need to avoid direct contact with that particular switch and call a certified, licensed and experienced electrician as soon as possible. Below are more serious reasons why you are getting shocks from your light switch:

Your light switch is faulty: When your electrical outlet is faulty, electrical shocks will probably ensue. Generally, light switches get their electrical currents via a box, further connected to the wiring. This implies that if there is any loose screw in the wiring, box or the switch itself, electricity will become unstable and this, in turn, will result in electrical shocks; especially if you try to plug in an appliance, or flip the outlet switch. You will need the assistance of a professional electrician to examine your fixtures and repair them accordingly. It is imperative to note that damage to your outlets, such as cracked casing or frayed wiring could also create less resistance to electricity and you’ll likely see sparks or burn marks in your switches. Call an electrician for prompt assistance!

Your electrical switches might be outdated: A light switch doesn’t have to be faulty or damaged to cause an electrical shock! Outdated switches usually feature a two-prong, and not the more recent three-prong. If you didn’t know, a two-prong switch doesn’t have a ground wire, which serves as an extra safety barrier in the case of an unreliable or unstable electrical current. This safety wire allows unstable currents to safely pass through to the ground instead of the person handling the switch, hence the name. Without a safety ground wire, a two-prong switch doesn’t have the option to safely drive away unstable electrical energy, and this increases your chances of getting a shock. You’ll need to contact your local electrician for power outlet installation. He will help you install the latest safety-oriented, three-prong light switches.

Your appliances could be faulty as well: Faulty electrical devices don’t always channel electrical energy properly. This implies that you will likely get a shock if you plug one into your outlet. A faulty appliance could have frayed wiring, damaged circuitry, or perhaps broken cords, and all these could result in electrical currents becoming unstable; hence the cause of shocks. You will need to contact a professional technician to come and inspect your appliances and they will either repair or replace them accordingly.

Other than these reasons, homeowners also need to be extra cautious when handling electrical switches. Always ensure your hands are dry before you touch an outlet, keep water sources far from your outlets, and cover your outlets with plastic casings to enhance your safety. Arguably most important, always consult a qualified electrical professional to work on your damaged electrical systems. Quick Spark can help you with all your electrical issues. Whether you want to install, repair, or maintain your electrical wiring, our licensed electricians are here to provide you with the best service in Australia. Call us on 1300 265 751.

Matthew Gladman

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