Bathroom fan switch sparking when off

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  #1  
Old 03-17-07, 08:18 PM
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Question Bathroom fan switch sparking when off

I got a Leviton 15 amp single pole double switches, one for the fan and for the light. When turning off the fan, I often see a bright spark through the plate. It never happens to the light switch. Is this caused by inductive kickback? Is this dangerous?
 
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Old 03-17-07, 08:33 PM
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Time for a new control.

The fan has a greater load on it, this can cause the arc. I would recommend a new switch/control. Disconnect the power (at the breaker)and reconnect the new one. the same as the old.
 
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Old 03-17-07, 08:40 PM
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All switches, all of them, spark when turned on and off. That's just one reason why switches are always enclosed in non-combustible boxes.

If this is the kind of spark so small that you have to be in a dark room and peer in closely to see, then you can ignore it. If this is the kind of spark that is noticeable even when not looking specifically for it, or even if it causes you any worry at all, then replace the switch.

Switches are cheap, although you probably should not buy the absolute cheapest one in the store.
 
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Old 03-23-07, 08:46 AM
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Thanks for your replies.

The switches are two years old. I have the same type switch in two different bathrooms. I can see the spark in both of them. Maybe I should get more expensive ones.
 
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Old 03-23-07, 08:57 AM
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New switches will not stop the sparking. All switches make a spark when the connection is made or broken, even if you don't see it. However, if it will give you piece of mind to replace the switches then go ahead.
 
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Old 03-23-07, 09:14 AM
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The spark is less if the switch action is fast. So if you move the lever slowly, you'll see a bigger spark. Some switches have a real SNAP to them that makes or breaks the connection quickly, thus reducing the spark.
 
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Old 03-23-07, 12:53 PM
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Wow, I didn't know this was "normal". Sometimes I hear a faint "pop" when turning the bedroom (or bathroom) light switch on. There is no shock, and everything works fine, but I always thought something was wrong. None of the other switches in my house do this. I do tend to buy the cheapy switches, though...
 
  #8  
Old 03-23-07, 01:09 PM
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Electricity will jump the gap between the fixed and moving portion of the switch. This produces the spark, which causes the pop that is heard.

There are many factors that influence the spark and how far the electricity will jump. The gas involved here is air. Air is pretty uniform around the world, at least as far as composition (nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc.), but it varies quite a bit in temperature and humidity. Other factors include the switch design.

You don't get shocked because this spark is internal to the switch. It is not a static discharge, although you may receive a static discharge shock if the conditions are right when you first touch the switch if you contact a grounded portion of the switch plate.
 
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