Electrical Problems. Need Information please.

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  #1  
Old 09-02-05, 12:57 AM
Debra
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Electrical Problems. Need Information please.

Hello,

We recently built a house and hired an electrician to do all the electrical work.

Less than a year later we had a problem with the light switches in the kitchen. You could hear a popping sound when you turned them on and off and smell an electrical burning smell inside the switch area.

We called the electrician who came out and said it was a bad switch. There is a switch on both ends of the kitchen and he said both were bad which I thought was strange.

He put new switches in and said it was fixed and so far I haven't heard that electrical popping sound.

However, it's been a couple of weeks since he changed those two and now most of the other switches in the house are now doing the same thing. They pop and you can smell them burning.

My question is, could it really be possible for all the switches to go bad like that? Or is there the possibility that there is a problem with the electrical wiring itself that could be causing the switches to go bad?

I would really like to get as much information as possible before I call him back out here.

Thank you,

Debra
 
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  #2  
Old 09-02-05, 05:02 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1,219
When a switch is operated under load, there is _always_ a bit of arc formed. This is a normal part of switch operation. What differentiates a good switch from a bad switch is how quickly the arc is cut off, how long the contacts last, proper mechanical operation, etc. When there is an arc, there will be a bit of smell.

It is entirely possible for the electrician to have installed low quality switches, or all switches from a bad batch, that all show excessive arcing. It is also possible that you had one truly bad switch, which taught you what to look for, and are now _noticing_ the normal arcing in the other switches. Or a combination of the two; switches which are actually pretty bad, but you are now attuned to the problem and are noticing the problem only just now.

The only errors in installation that I can think of which would cause most of your switches to start failing are:
1) Switches used at excessive capacity. Do individual switches control high wattages? This is a somewhat dangerous condition, and will lead to very short switch life.
2) Switches exposed to excessive moisture. Are the failing switches in _outside_ walls? This will shorten switch life.
3) Switches applied to run improper loads. Are these switches being used to operate motors? This will shorten switch life.
4) Switches installed with incorrect wire terminations. In this case the switch itself isn't bad, but every time you operate the switch you get an additional arc from the bad wire connections. This is an extremely dangerous situation which can lead to fire.

-Jon
 
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