How to tell if an electric light switch has gone bad

Have your lights been flickering recently? Maybe a light went out and you’re struggling to get it back on. Occasionally, changing a bulb or checking the breakers isn’t enough to get your lights back on. There are times when the light switch simply fizzles out due to electrical wiring shorts, a tripped break or even the light switch itself has stopped working. While it might seem like light switches can last forever, and they do often last for several years, they might need the occasional replacement. 

Here’s how to tell if an electric light switch has gone bad. 

Turn the power off. 

Start at the breaker panel. Turn the power off tot he specific light circuit. If the specific breaker isn’t identified, simply turn off the main switch eliminating power in the entire house. Note: also make sure no one in your home will turn the breaker back on by placing a note on the box. It might seem simple but it can keep you safe. 

Check out the switch. 

Remove screws holding the cover plate in place. Next, you’ll see a pair of mounting screws. You’ll need to remove those as well. Carefully pull the switch out of the switch box, exposing the wire terminals. Take a quick picture of how the switch is wired. 

Test it. 

Use a continuity tester to check the switch. Set to the off position then touch both terminals on the side that holds the wires. The tester light should NOT come on. Remove the tester. Next, try flipping the switch to ‘on’. Once again touch the tester probe the terminals on the wired side. If the continuity tester light flickers on, your switch is good. If not, it’s time for the next step. 

Call your electrician. 

When it comes to replacing electrical fixtures, your electrician is a must. There are several dangers with these types of projects and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Contact your local electrician to install new switches (and you can update them to more aesthetically pleasing options). 

Worried your light switches have gone bad? We’re here to help! Contact us. We have licensed electricians ready to help with your residential or business needs.