Are hot switch plates normal?

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  #1  
Old 05-29-07, 01:06 PM
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Are hot switch plates normal?

I have a relatively new house (2 years old) that was professionally wired. I have noticed that several of the switch plates get very hot after the lights have been on for awhile. They are not dimmer switches (which apparently are known for being hot - learned that reading here). Sometimes they are warm, and other times they are downright hot. Is this normal? I've never had this problem in any other houses that I've lived in.
 
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Old 05-29-07, 01:10 PM
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Standard toggle (non-dimmer) switches should not be hot. You may be experiencing loose backstab connections at the switches which should be moved to screw terminals. Does the switch smell "hot"? Do you hear any popping or crackling when the switch is on other than the initial snap?
 
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Old 05-29-07, 01:20 PM
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I ocassionally get a "burnt wire" smell in the house, but can't ever seem to find it and it will typically dissipate before I can track it down. They don't crackle, but do ocassionally snap when they are turned on (which really depends on the humidity in the house from what I can tell - I figure it's just static electricity doing that). Being hot is intermittent, but I've yet to figure out what the common connection (no pun intended) is that causes them to be hot. Some are upstairs, some downstairs, some on interior walls, some located on exterior walls. Different circuits, different rooms. Some are single pole, some are 3-way. I'm baffled.

Then again, the dishwasher has been replaced, the water heater has been replaced, the A/C unit has had problems, had to replace the thermostat on one unit a few weeks ago. Up until recently all problems with this house have been plumbing/HVAC related. Now, between the thermostat and hot switch plates, it appears I'm going to start having electrical problems.

Anybody want to buy a house? I swear it's posessed.
 
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Old 05-29-07, 01:37 PM
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Receptacles and switches can be connected to wires either by screws or by "backstabs", which are spring loaded holes the wires stick into. The backstabs are much faster for low-budget contractors to install, but they are notorious for failing in the manner which you have described.

The solution is to turn off the breaker(s), remove the wires from the backstab holes and move them to the adjacent screw terminals at all of the affected devices.
 
  #5  
Old 05-29-07, 01:53 PM
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Thanks! I'll pull a few off tonight and take a look. I had no idea there was any other way to connect them other than with screws. Must be the new and "improved" <eyeroll> way of doing things.

"low-budget contractor" - boy, you nailed that one. LOL!
 
  #6  
Old 05-29-07, 02:06 PM
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rather than moving the wires I would replace the switches , more than likely you have cheap-o contractor pack .

buy some decent switches (a few dollars each rather than less than a 1.00

then hook them up to the screw terminals
 
  #7  
Old 05-29-07, 02:42 PM
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Yep, replacement is the way to go.

My house, which was built in '87, had all backstabbed receptacles and switches. The receptacles didn't even have screws as an option!

One of the best things I ever did was replace those cheapos.
 
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