Switch sparks

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  #1  
Old 03-04-05, 01:47 PM
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Switch sparks

I installed a 1250 watt 120 volt wall heater on it's own 15 amp breaker and a wall switch. I used 14 gage wire which is normal on a 15 amp line. My problem is the wall switch sparks a lot when I turn the switch off while the heater is still running. It is a leviton 15 amp pro grade double switch. I broke off the tab so the two switches are independent. The two switches are tied to two seperate lines. One to the heater and the other to bathroom light. The bathroom switch does not spark but the heater switch does. I replaced the switch hoping that was the problem, I still have the same problem.

Need expert advice

Thanks, Electron
 

Last edited by Electron; 03-04-05 at 02:28 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-04-05, 02:39 PM
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ALL switches spark when there is a load through them and they are turned off.

This switch sparks a lot because the load is quite large. The typical load through a switch is a light or two, perhaps 100 to 200 watts.

I would not be concerned, as long as the switch is rated for the 15 amp load.
 
  #3  
Old 03-04-05, 03:42 PM
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Check the rating embossed into the strap!

The rating of that switch will be embossed into the strap that supports the switch. A 1250 watt heater will draw a little over ten amperes at 120 volts. If the switch is rated for less than ten amperes it will fail if you continue to use it to control that load. There are switches available that are rated for a full fifteen or more amperes that will mount in a standard device box. Since you are using a stack switch you may have one that is rated for as little as five amperes.
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Tom H
 
  #4  
Old 03-04-05, 08:33 PM
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Switch sparks

Tom, Thanks so much for your input. The switch is rated 15 amps on the strap. I asume both switches is rated 15 amps, or do you think they are rated 7 1/2 each. If not, Would you agree with the other guy that it's normal for it to spark because it's pulling much more current. It does spark alot. If that's not normal, can I use a 20 amp stack switch. I can't find one at Home Depot. I'm hoping I don't have to go to a single switch.

Thanks, Electron
 
  #5  
Old 03-04-05, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by hornetd
The rating of that switch will be embossed into the strap that supports the switch. A 1250 watt heater will draw a little over ten amperes at 120 volts. If the switch is rated for less than ten amperes it will fail if you continue to use it to control that load. There are switches available that are rated for a full fifteen or more amperes that will mount in a standard device box. Since you are using a stack switch you may have one that is rated for as little as five amperes.
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Tom H
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Tom, Thanks so much for your input. The switch is rated 15 amps on the strap. I asume both switches is rated 15 amps, or do you think they are rated 7 1/2 each. If not, would you agree with the other guy that it's normal for it to spark because it's pulling more current. It does spark alot. If that's not normal, can I use a 20 amp stack switch. I can't find one at Home Depot. I'm hoping I don't have to go to a single switch.
 
  #6  
Old 03-05-05, 12:17 PM
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Flash or spark?

It is normal to see the flash of a switch closing or opening arc around the toggle when the switch is making or breaking a heavy load. If visible sparks are escaping from the switch housing then something has failed.
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Tom Horne
 
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