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-   -   Popping Noise in Light Switches (https://www.askmehelpdesk.com/electrical-lighting/popping-noise-light-switches-69267.html)

  • Mar 6, 2007, 08:46 AM
    goblue0211
    Popping Noise in Light Switches
    We starting hearing a popping noise when we flicked the switch in our bedroom. Then we started hearing it on the same wall but a switch in the hallway. We had an electrician come to change the switches.
    He put in brand new switches however, we are still hearing the popping noise. Now it has traveled down the hallway to the bathroom light switch.
    Once, we heard the popping noise when we just touched the light switch cover (didn't even flick the switch). The popping noise seems to be getting louder as well and more frequent in all of the switches. Periodically, we get a shock when we touch the switches as well.

    What is causing this? Is it dangerous?
    What should have an electrician look for or test for when they come?

    Any suggestions that anyone has would be great.
  • Mar 6, 2007, 08:51 AM
    tinsign
    Sounds as if you might have a bare wire somewhere touching others, or it could be a broken one as well
  • Mar 6, 2007, 08:56 AM
    nmwirez
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by goblue0211
    We starting hearing a popping noise when we flicked the switch in our bedroom. Then we started hearing it on the same wall but a switch in the hallway. We had an electrician come to change the switches.
    He put in brand new switches however, we are still hearing the popping noise. Now it has traveled down the hallway to the bathroom light switch.
    Once, we heard the popping noise when we just touched the light switch cover (didn't even flick the switch). The popping noise seems to be getting louder as well and more frequent in all of the switches. Periodically, we get a shock when we touch the switches as well.

    What is causing this? Is it dangerous?
    What should have an electrician look for or test for when they come?

    Any suggestions that anyone has would be great.

    Are any of those switch plates made of metal? How old is the house? Nm
  • Mar 6, 2007, 11:40 AM
    goblue0211
    Yes actually - 2 of the 4 face plates making the noise are metal.

    Do you think the bare wire is within the walls somewhere? How would I even go about finding out where it is?
  • Mar 6, 2007, 11:41 AM
    goblue0211
    The house was built in 1980.
  • Mar 6, 2007, 12:09 PM
    nmwirez
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by goblue0211
    The house was built in 1980.

    There is a grounding problem in the lighting circuits. The two metal plates are live and considered dangerous, so do not touch. There is no loose wire in your house walls if it was inspected and bought off by an inspector when the house was built. If there was remodeling after that then it is a different issue that needs repairing. There may be different branch circuits that are in the same lighting circuit where the problem may be.

    I highly suggest hiring a licensed electrician who knows what he is doing. The last guy was a handyman at the best. :D nm
  • Mar 6, 2007, 01:20 PM
    goblue0211
    Will do. Is it a fire hazard?

    Why would multiple switches be making this noise? Is it because of the different branch circuits that you referenced?

    I am not the original owner so I'm not sure if there was remodeling after the original builder did the work. My guess is that there wasn't...
  • Mar 6, 2007, 01:30 PM
    nmwirez
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by goblue0211
    Will do. Is it a fire hazard? It can be but most unlikely.

    Why would multiple switches be making this noise? Is it because of the different branch circuits that you referenced?Yes. And the grounding is faulty, otherwise you would not get shocked touching the switch metal wall plate .

    I am not the original owner so I'm not sure if there was remodeling after the original builder did the work. My guess is that there wasn't...

    Were the metal wall plates there also?
    Nm
  • Mar 6, 2007, 01:32 PM
    goblue0211
    We added a metal plate just recently... that is probably the source of the problem. If we removed the plate and replaced with plastic, would that help?
  • Mar 6, 2007, 02:29 PM
    nmwirez
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by goblue0211
    We added a metal plate just recently...that is probably the source of the problem. If we removed the plate and replaced with plastic, would that help?

    Yes, but it does not solve the basic wiring anomaly of proper grounding.
  • Mar 6, 2007, 03:14 PM
    tkrussell
    I need to jump in here with my two cents and ask, has an electrician been contacted yet? This question was first posted at 10:46 AM.

    Metal plates that give shocks, and popping noises from the walls are an indication of a very serious problem.

    While a grounding problem may be the most obvious, and if the grounding was correct, a circuit breaker would be opening to prevent the plates from being energized,there is clearly some sort of event occurring either in the wall or an outlet box that is causing the short that is causing the energized plates and popping noises.

    Until an electrician arrives, this circuit or circuits should be shut off to prevent the obvious injury of electric shock, and to prevent any possibility of a fire.

    I certainly hope this is ends up as a minor problem, but better to be safe that sorry.
  • Mar 6, 2007, 03:34 PM
    nmwirez
    Thanks again tk, I have a suspicion that the switch yokes were not grounded back in the 1980's and that an ungrounded wire is shorting up against a metal wall box. As you said, if the grounding to that box and switch was made, then the circuit would have popped. This is my guess of the week? Have any other possibilities? Nm:)
  • Mar 6, 2007, 04:56 PM
    goblue0211
    Thank you!!
  • Mar 6, 2007, 05:06 PM
    ballengerb1
    If you are getting a shock and are still standing it is probably a neutral wire shorting out in one of your boxes. It can be a fire hazard so hire the licensed eklectrican nmwirez suggests, soon. Most likely all boxes and metal plates in this circuit will be able to shock you so don't delay. DO NOT TOUCH ANY LIGHT SWITCH WHEN YOU ARE BARE FOOTED OR IN THE SHOWER.
  • Mar 6, 2007, 05:13 PM
    labman
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by goblue0211
    We added a metal plate just recently...that is probably the source of the problem. If we removed the plate and replaced with plastic, would that help?

    That is taking aspirin for a broken arm. The problem is you have a short circuit in a poorly grounded circuit. As tkrussel said, shut the breaker off before somebody gets hurt or the house burns down. Once shut off, you can pull the plate and look in the box for bare or broken wires. If you don't find something you are sure you know how to fix, follow up with the professional. This looks to me like one of those things the deeper you dig, the bigger the mess.
  • Mar 8, 2007, 11:19 AM
    nmwirez
    Labman,

    Thanks for your concern, but this is a dangerous proposition in suggesting that homeowners shut off the power to poke around in wiring to find a loose wire problem.

    This is risky to the point that I would not encourage DIYer's to do invasive work for the simple reason they may fix something in one box that can cause a problem elsewhere and burn the house down when they turn on the electricity again.

    Please... think safety. nmwirez (I hope I put this in simple terms.)
  • Mar 8, 2007, 09:18 PM
    goblue0211
    Just wanted to let everyone know that the electrician came and investigated the switches. Turns out, my electronic smoke detector is connected on the same circuit and it is very old and going bad. The sound we were hearing was a pop from the smoke detector. The electrician checked for broken wires or faulty grounds and couldn't find anything else. He suggested we change the smoke detector to solve the problem. Curious about everyone's thoughts on this one.
  • Mar 8, 2007, 10:07 PM
    nmwirez
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by goblue0211
    Just wanted to let everyone know that the electrician came and investigated the switches. Turns out, my electronic smoke detector is connected on the same circuit and it is very old and going bad. The sound we were hearing was a pop from the smoke detector. The electrician checked for broken wires or faulty grounds and couldn't find anything else. He suggested we change the smoke detector to solve the problem. Curious about everyone's thoughts on this one.

    Well Goblue, go figure. Make sure the smoke detector is replaced with one that has both ion and photoelectric detectors along with a battery backup. (Not CO)

    There is still something fishy about getting shocked off the metal switch plates though. What did the electrician explain for that?

    :confused: nm
  • Mar 9, 2007, 02:27 AM
    tkrussell
    Need to know your opinion on this, you heard the sound traveling, and when you operated the switches. Does the solution seem feasible?

    And yes, the shock from the plates? Assuming he opened each switch box and checked thoroughly.

    And if this smoke detector is defective , is it the same age as all the others? If so, the others should be replaced, quickly.

    If changing the detector makes the problem go away, then great, just keep monitoring the area for a while, just to be sure.

    Ever notice the statement in my signature?
  • Mar 9, 2007, 05:06 AM
    labman
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nmwirez
    snip....

    There is still something fishy about getting shocked off the metal switch plates though. What did the electrician explain for that?

    :confused: nm

    I agree. I don't see how a bad smoke detector could cause the plate to be hot. Unless your house was built 40-50 years ago, the frame of the light switch and the metal plate should be grounded, and should have tripped the breaker if there was a short. I would hope the professional electrician didn't go away without a good look. A problem that went away on its own, can be tough to find.

    Is it possible you were getting a static shock? After walking across the rug, touching a door knob or sink could have shocked you?

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