Light Switch Sparks

Old 01-27-04, 06:48 PM
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Light Switch Sparks

Hi Everyone.

I noticed that when I turn off a switch that controls an outside light, the switch actually lights up blue. This doesn't happen every single time. It is a decora plug so I think this helps to see the spark, whereas before it was a regular swicth. I hooked up the new switch the same way as the old except that instead of twisting 2 black wires together (as it draws power from another switch beside it), I have one wrapped around the screw and the other inserted into the slot for back wire use.

This might not be of any help, but maybe you guys can think of reasons why it could be sparking. It doesn't pop the circuit breaker and everything with exception to the spark seems fine.
Wondering also if this is a fire hazard.

Thanks for any help.
Old 01-27-04, 06:58 PM
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I just noticed that the other switch I mentionned above that gives the switch in question power, sparks too. Im wondering maybe that this is normal for the switch to light up inside.

Old 01-27-04, 07:25 PM
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All switches spark. Most of the time it isn't noticeable, unless you're looking for it. We can't see the spark, so we don't know how big it is, and therefore whether or not it is a concern. But one of the purposes of the electrical box is to contain sparks such as this.

If you search this forum for the word "backstab", you'll see how much everybody here hates them. Nevertheless, that is unlikely to be related to your spark in a brand new switch.

If the spark is more than "barely noticeable", then double-check all your connections to make sure that they are excellent. Make sure that you have repacked the box carefully, that the grounding wires are well away from the screws, and that you haven't stripped too much insulation from any of the wires.
Old 01-28-04, 12:50 AM
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What you're seeing is almost certainly a normal contact arc within the switch body. As suggested, double check your connections with the power off.

Who is the manufacturer? I have found that with decora switches, some off-brand makers use a plastic facing so thin as to be nearly translucent, which can make this more noticeable.
Old 01-28-04, 05:22 AM
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Thanks guys!

It is the second box of switches that I have purchased and now that you have mentionned it, noxx, they appear to be of cheaper quality than the first box. What I will do is replace it with a better quality switch and see if that makes a difference and post back hopefully by tonight.

Thank again!
Old 01-28-04, 07:32 AM
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I have noticed that how fast the switch is opened or closed will make a difference in how noticeable the spark is. The slower motion equals more visible sparking.
Old 01-28-04, 06:33 PM
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I noticed the exact opposite. The faster you switch off the light, the more spark you see. Is there a reason why it only appears to happens when you turn off the light and not on?

The light switches that I used are from Eagle Electric, a canadian company I believe. The first set of switches, the better ones, were made in the USA by Cooper. Noxx, does this tell you anything?
Old 01-28-04, 06:39 PM
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Just wanted to mention one more thing. When I had the light switch hanging out of the box while checking the wires, I turned on the breaker on and saw that the spark was indeed coming 100% from inside the switch.
Old 01-28-04, 09:07 PM
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Eagle devices are not my first choice, I prefer Cooper and Leviton. (don't want to actively disparage a manufacturer...shh)
Old 01-28-04, 10:26 PM
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Eagle devices are not my first choice, I prefer Cooper and Leviton.
Cooper (which owns common brands such as Wiss, Weller, Crescent, Arrow-Hart, etc.) bought Eagle Electric (was located in NY, I believe).
They have implemented changes in many products, some of which I like, others I dislike. Overall, their RESIDENTIAL grade devices are worse than ever. I always use the commercial grade devices when it is to be a long-lasting permanent installation. $2.50 instead of .50 for a switch is totally worth it, in my opinion .
Baggs, to be objective, what is this switch controlling?
Floodlights are a canidate to make the cheap contacts arc, and pit. Perhaps for just this one switch, (or maybe a few) should get commercial grade switches. Home Depot stocks Leviton 20A commercial grade Decor devices. I am fortunate, I have both Home Depot and Lowe's nearby, I never find everything I need at either of them, it takes both and then some searching.
Old 01-29-04, 04:47 AM
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green jacket wrote:

'Baggs, to be objective, what is this switch controlling?'

The switch is in fact controling outside flood lights.
Sorry, I not quite familiar with the terminalogy, what is a pit?
I will take your advice, and install some commercial grade switches where necessary.

I need to get the wife off my case. She refuses to touch these arcing switches.

Thanks for your help guys, it worth more than you know.

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