Have you recently been shocked by your light switch? Well, you are not alone as many people have been wondering “Why does my light switch shock me?” and this can be for a very simple reason or in other cases, a dangerous reason.
In this feature, we will tell you why your light switch has been shocking you every time you touch it and what that may mean for you and your electrical system. Read on to find out 7 reasons why your light switch is shocking you and what you can do about it.
Why Did My Light Switch Shock Me?
You are wondering why your light switch is shocking you every time you use the switch, why else would you be reading this? In the words of Thibaut “Curiosity is a mind in search of knowledge.” which is a good thing.
It is always good to question everything, especially happenings that occur around you in the world. While this occurrence is typically attributed to static electricity, in this feature you will find seven possible reasons why your light switch is shocking you.
The number one spot will take the place of the most common reason why your light switch is shocking you and we will move forward to other possible reasons and what that can mean.
Considering that light switches are electrical switches, it is no surprise that some people have been experiencing small to large shocks when interacting with the switch.
Keep in mind, that this is quite a regular occurrence for many folks, so you are not alone in this shocking feeling. Read on to find out what may be causing you to be shocked by your light switch.
1. Static electricity
Static electricity – It is likely that static electricity is the culprit in this scenario, which is what occurs when you drag your feet on a fuzzy carpet and then touch something (typically metal).
Static electricity is a very small charge of electricity that builds up on material or between materials until it can transfer to something using an electrical current. Whereas current electricity is current, flowing if you will; static electricity is just that stagnant in one particular area.
So, when you feel a small shock from your light switch it is most likely static electricity, this is especially apparent when you have just got out of bed or from beneath a particularly fuzzy blanket, then you touch the light switch.
This is when the tiny amount of electricity is allowed to transfer to the light switch since it is naturally pulled towards the electrical current within the switch. When this transfer occurs, you will feel a small shock and you might even be able to spot a very small spark.
It should be stated that the transfer of the electricity, which is referred to as an electrostatic discharge poses little to no health risks. This means that you do not have to worry about being hurt by the electrostatic discharge.
Sure, you will feel the shock or a small pinch but it will only be a brief nuisance.
The only real risk associated with an electrostatic discharge is how you may react to the shock, which means that if you were to be shocked by your light switch from static electricity and jumped back and wound up hitting your head on something; the electrostatic discharge is not necessarily to blame.
Fix – Carry Something Metal on You
If you do not like receiving the small shock of an electrostatic discharge (static electricity) or are simply tired of it occurring so often; you can simply carry something metal on you.
Now, it should be clear that carrying a coin or paperclip in your pocket will not stop the shock from happening.
What you can do is take that small piece of metal and touch it to the surface of something else that is metal, by doing this any electrons stuck to your body will flow through the metal and away from you, effectively preventing the “jumping” effect that causes the shock.
It is not so bad, you can carry around a paperclip, coin, or even a key. If you already carry around something metal as a good luck charm, then you are in luck since this will be the perfect item to use so that you can prevent being shocked by your light switches.
You could even wear a house key that you use often on a necklace chain, this way you can create some unique style and stop your light switch from shocking you.
2. Loose or Faulty Light Switch
When you have a loose or faulty light switch, an electrical shock can certainly occur. It is important to remember that electrical switches receive their electrical currents through a box, which is also connected to wires.
So, if any wiring or screws are loose on the box, switch, or wiring, the electricity becomes unstable and potentially dangerous. This is what can cause an electrical shock to occur when you switch on or off your light switch.
Also, keep an eye out for any cracking occurring on the casing of the light switch, since a damaged light switch casing offers less resistance and is also a bad path for electricity. Frayed wiring can also create a bad path for the electrical current running through them, which can even create a small spark within the casing.
This is not good and it is very dangerous since it can not only cause a fire to start inside the wall but it can also create an electrical short, which can potentially create a deadly level of electrical discharge.
Fix – Call a Professional Electrician
If you notice that your light switch casing is loose, cracked, or even bears burn marks, you should call a professional electrician to inspect the electrical problem, then go from there.
You should not interact with the light switch until the electrician inspects the switch, as this could be very dangerous. You can even hop onto your internet browser and search for electricians near you, then you can figure out which one would be the best for you and your area.
Not only is a small shock from your light switch a good reason to call or request an electrician, but so is if you hear an audible snap, crackle, or pop when you flip the switch.
It is not a good idea to try to work on any electrical system if you are not a trained professional. So, please do not attempt to repair a cracked, faulty, or burn-marked light switch.
Be sure that you request an experienced, trained, and reasonable electrician to get your light switch fixed. Also, they can help you to identify any larger problems in your electrical system.
3. You Touched the Switch With Wet Hands
It is very possible that you touched the light switch with wet hands. It is important to remember that water and electricity are not good friends, when you bring them together things get dangerous.
With this in mind, you could have touched the light switch while you had damp hands and then you received a small shock. While many light switch casings are designed to prevent this from happening, it can still happen nonetheless.
It may seem like it is obvious that you should not touch anything electrical with wet hands; however, it is easy to let it slip your mind when you are distracted. This can be particularly dangerous if your light switch is damaged, cracked, or even worse, exposed.
Fix – Make Sure Your Hands Are Dry
Whenever you are about to interact with something electrical, it is always a good practice to make sure that your hands are completely dry. Even when you are busy, you should always make sure that your hands are dry before using any light switch.
As previously mentioned, most light switch casings are safely guarded against water; however, you should never assume it is safe to use a light switch with wet or damp hands. So, if you are fresh out of the shower be sure to dry your hands thoroughly before you hit any light switches.
A good way to remember to dry your hands before using a light switch is to keep a hand towel nearby the light switch you use the most. It could be on a small bedside table or even on a small hook on the wall beside your light switch, so long that it is within sight so that you are reminded to dry your hands before using the light switch.
4.The Light Switch is Not Ground
It is very possible that your light switch is not ground. Electrical charges are naturally attracted to conductive surfaces like metals, which can then be passed onto our bodies. This phenomenon is, of course, known as electrical shock.
Not only have grounding light switches become commonplace, which are used as a preventative safety measure. It should be stated that it is perfectly legal to wire a light switch without the inclusion of a ground. It is also important to mention that all dimmer light switches require a ground wire, whereas traditional toggle-type switches do not require a ground wire.
The purpose of a ground wire is to give that excess electrical charge an alternative route, which is what saves all of us from severely dangerous electrical shocks or even a potential electrical fire.
For the re-routed electrical charge to be released safely, the ground wire runs underneath your home or apartment building and goes deep into the earth, so that it can release the re-routed electrical charge safely. Essentially the ground wire takes the charge off of the surface, into the ground then it releases the charge safely.
Fix – Call an Electrician or Install a Ground Switch
If you believe that your light switch does not have a ground wire hooked up to it, and you have received a shock from the switch. You should call a professional electrician, for an experienced electrician, this should be no problem for them and should not cost a lot.
If you have never worked with wiring, you should consider hiring an electrician, and then you can also ask them to watch them work so that you can learn from them. If you fancy yourself a DIY-er, you can install a ground wire light switch in about 10 minutes.
5. Your House Wiring Might Be Damaged
There is the possibility that you could be getting electrical shocks due to damages within your house’s wiring. As damaged wiring can cause electricity to leak out, which leads to electrical shocks. Be careful and keep an eye out for flickering lights, burning odors, or smoke. Another good way to test the switch is to feel the light switch casing for any warmth.
Fix – Call or Request an Electrician
If you notice any signs that there is something wrong with your house’s wiring, you should contact an electrician ASAP. Watch out for smoke, strange warmth from the light switch, and odd odors.
6. Your Switch is A Metal Box
It is very possible that you are getting shocked since your switch has a metal box. Remember, metals are perfect conductors for electricity. Also, if they are not grounded properly, they could easily conduct a leakage of electricity.
Fix – Change Your Light Switch Box
If you do have a metal light switch box, this could almost be certainly what is creating the shock when you touch it. Luckily, the simple answer to this is to purchase a new light switch box (casing).
7. Your Light Switch is Defective
Defects in your light switch could be responsible for the electric shocks you keep experiencing. Poor insulants, conductors, and capacitors as switch materials very well may cause electric leakage.
Fix – Call a Professional Electrician
If you believe that your light switch is defective, your best bet would be to call a professional electrician to handle the issue.
Electricity is an incredible thing, which literally keeps the lights on. However, it can also be very dangerous, which is why if you have never worked with wires, don’t test your luck simply call a professional electrician. Maybe next time your light switch gives you a shock, you will have the knowledge to know what caused the shock.
With this feature, you will now know what can cause a light switch to shock you. If you found this information helpful, consider sharing this article with a friend or family member that could use such information. Now, you will know what is causing your light switch to shock you.