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    ejscherr's Avatar
    ejscherr Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Oct 26, 2006, 05:52 AM
    Burning Smell Associated with Light Switch
    I have one light switch that frequently produces a burning smell when turned off (although the light plate is never warm to the touch). The light switch is not particularly old, but wasn't replaced yesterday either. I have had this problem in apartments I have lived in in the past, although this one is now in my home. Is there any reason for this or any danger? Could this cause a fire? I was considering changing out the switch, but know nothing about doing this. Aren't there different voltage switches? How do you determine what type of switch you need? I would really prefer not to call an electrician because of the cost, but if this is a potential fire hazard I will certainly do so. Any opinions?
    RickJ's Avatar
    RickJ Posts: 7,762, Reputation: 864
    Uber Member

    Oct 26, 2006, 06:16 AM
    You need to visually inspect what's going on in there.

    • Turn off the breaker to that circuit
    • unscrew the screws holding the plate on and remove it
    • unscrew the screws holding the switch to the box and pull that switch out a few inches

    Is there any evidence of smoldering or burning on the switch or wires?
    labman's Avatar
    labman Posts: 10,580, Reputation: 551
    Uber Member

    Oct 26, 2006, 06:21 AM
    I see no good reason for that to be happening. My house was built in 1970, and I don't think I have changed any switches. Still, I don't like it. A new switch would only be a buck or 2, and changing it would be a good starter DIY project. Locate the circuit breaker and shut it off. There should be a table on the door saying which each circuit breaker does. If not, that is another good starter project. Ask for details if you need to. With the circuit breaker off, try to turn the light on. If it comes on, you have the wrong breaker. People have gotten killed that way. Try again.

    Once you have the right breaker off, remove the screws in the cover plate and then the screws holding the switch to the box. Pull the switch out. It should have a bare copper wire attached to a green screw, and 2 other wires. If it has 3 separate insulated wires, carefully note where they are and buy a 3 way switch just like it. Don't worry if the same screw has more than one wire on it. They may be on screws or back stabbed, simply pushed into holes. If so, there is another small hole next to it. Push a small screwdriver or something in the other hole and pull on the wire. May take some wiggling around to get it out. Look at the switch. It should say 120-240 V 15 amp or such. Go to a hardware and select a switch like it. A regular hardware store is much more likely to have somebody that can assure you you are buying the right switch than the big home centers.

    If the old switch didn't have the bare wire attached to the green screw, poke around in the box and see if you can find one to attach. That provides an extra measure of security and is required in new work now. Otherwise, put it back together just like it was. Turn the circuit breaker on and test the light. If it doesn't work, recheck your work.

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