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What Are the Dangers of Loose Light Switches?

Wanda Thibodeaux

Most people use light switches so often that they don't think about how they operate or what dangers they may hold.

Any lose or broken light switch or faceplate needs replacement.

Under normal operating conditions, light switches are perfectly safe, but like anything else that receives repeated use, light switches can wear out over time and subsequently become the source of multiple safety hazards.


A loose light socket will shift more easily than one that isn't loose. This extra movement puts more wear and tear on the electrical wiring associated with the switch. Over time, the wiring can become frayed or damaged, which makes it easier for electricity to travel from the wires to the switch unpredictably and without proper grounding. This can result in shocks or even fatal electrocution. Furthermore, a common problem from damaged wiring that occurs with loose light switches (or any electrical switch) is electric arcing, according to Fixitclub.com. As defined by Thefreedictionary.com, electrical arcing is a phenomenon that occurs when electricity travels through a gas between two points—lightning is a natural form of electrical arcing. Electrical arcing means that loose wiring in a switch doesn't even need to be touching anything to shock a person because electricity can jump the gaps between exposed wires to create dangerous, unpredictable currents.


Electricity is a form of heat energy, as shown by the California Institute of Technology. Normally, wiring is designed to handle a certain amount of voltage. This means that the wiring can handle a specific amount of electricity before the wiring becomes so hot that it melts. When a light switch is loose, poor connections in the wiring may let heat escape. If enough heat escapes, materials within the switch or near the switch port can ignite. If your switch or switchplate is warm, this is a sign that your switch needs immediate attention.


Burns may occur with loose light switches in two ways. The first way is through contact with the electricity from the current connected to the switch. Remember, electricity is heat energy, so you can get burned from an electrical shock just the same as you can with a flame. Even touching a hot screw in a faceplate can cuase a burn. The second way burns occur with loose light switches is through the fires that the loose switches cause. Have a fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires on hand to help control a switch fire if one starts and thereby reduce burn risk.