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Electrical Switch Repair Questions

An electrical switch is a component that diverts electric current from one conductor to another by breaking an electrical circuit. One of the most common forms of a switch is an electromechanical device that is operated manually and has electrical contacts that are connected to external circuits. There are two states in which each of these set of contacts operate. One is “closed” which means electricity flows between the contacts because they are touching. The other is “open” which indicates that there is a separation between the contacts and the switch is not conducting current.

Listed below are a few questions answered by electricians on electrical switch repair related issues.

My ceiling fan fixture sparked when I turned on an electrical switch in my mobile home. Now I don’t have power in this fan fixture, the fan and light in the bathroom, the light in the hall, and one additional room. How can I fix the problem?

Details of the problem: I checked the wiring where the problem first started. There are two black wires connected to the switch, along with one white and a ground. I removed the wires and recorded 98v on one of the black wires. After this, I re-checked the wires. My readings said 98v from hot to neutral. Hot to ground read 0v. Thereafter I recorded 0v from neutral to ground.

There seem to be two problems that probably exist. The first is that your electrical switch doesn’t seem to have a grounding system. The second is that, you are being faced with a neutral connection problem. Both the problems probably have the same cause as well.

Fix this may be a little labor intensive. To begin with, the breaker that gives power to the circuit needs to be shut down. After this is done, you need to use a tape or some other form of marking and identify everything on that circuit, including switches, lights, and outlets.

Thereafter, re-visit your panel and measure the voltage on the circuit breaker. Instructions on how to do this can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdlAxZHLDys&list=UUDjzxT-8ebFTBV1TsINxjCA&index=2

If the breaker looks alright, you need to look for any loose or corroded connections on all the switches and outlets you identified earlier. If you can’t find any, every connection on each device will have to be re-done physically. What’s important to remember here is that many bad connections lie hidden. Sometimes, all it takes to fix a problem like this is to re-do a connection. But the difficult bit is finding the right connection to fix.

What can I do to stop a two-way electrical light switch from blinking?

Your switch could probably be a bad one. Based on your question, the switch sounds like a 3-way switch. A 3-way electrical switch will sometimes tend to break at the frame and stop working properly. This kind of a switch is light that can be operated at two different places. You could try and replace both switches to fix the problem. However, be careful when you do this and make a note of where the wires end. Also, remember that the wire on the black screw is common and needs to be placed on the new switch’s common screw.

My bathroom has a combination electrical switch. A light is controlled by the top switch and an exhaust fan by the bottom switch. There was a short circuit with the top switch, so I replaced it and as a result, both switches turn on the fan and light at the same time. A black and white pair of wires that each come from two separate cables are involved in the wiring, along with another bare wire that is from a cable that was not connected. How can I fix this?

It seems like the tab between the black screws wasn’t broken. Once you break this tab and separate the screws, the two switches should operate independent of each other, on separate feeds.

I have an electrical switch installed that controls an individual electrical outlet. There is a grounding wire for both the switch and the outlet that connects to a ground wire in the line. My plug tester says everything is ok when the switch is turned on. But it indicates an open ground when the switch is in the off position. What do you think is the problem?

From what you say it looks like you have the neutral switched and not the hot. There are also limitations with your tester so you may want to look into that as well.

When you install building wiring, light switches are placed at locations that are convenient to control lighting from. Some people use multiple-pole switches so a lamp can be controlled with a multi-way switching process from different locations. In the same way, remote control of lights can be easily done with the help of wireless light switches, while a vandal resistant switch can be used to prevent misuse and unauthorized use of switches in public buildings. There are different types of electrical switches. When you need maintenance or repairs for your electrical switches, if you aren’t sure of what the problem is, it’s best to get Expert insights.

Ask an Electrician

Mike
Mike, Master Electrician
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1425
Experience:  Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer
11762411
Type Your Electrical Question Here...
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    Rate the answer you receive.

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Recent Switch Questions

  • Hello We are having some weird electrical problems. The house

    Hello
    We are having some weird electrical problems. The house is only 6 years old, but about 4 months ago, our master closet light went out and would not come back on with new bulbs. It went on and off here and there and now is totally off.
    Then our Ethernet modem is on the fritz on and off, we keep rebooting it and then it will be ok but then shuts down again.
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