popping light switch cause?


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Old 09-22-14, 01:33 PM
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popping light switch cause?

I had a single pole controlling a fixture that had 4x13W CFL's. It started to develop a "pop" when the switch was turned off.

I replaced the switch and all was good for a while.

The new spec grade switch (which has stranded wire securely affixed under the back wire clamps) started to develop a similar "pop" to a lesser extent.

I replaced the bulbs and the pop seems to have disappeared (knock on wood).

Can the bulbs cause this?
How about a loose connection in another box (not the switch box?)

Im confused why this has occurred.... again its not a loose connection on the switch itself.

Any ideas?
 
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Old 09-22-14, 08:10 PM
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Switches tend to 'pop' when turned on or off since there's actually a small arc that occurs just before or just after connection. There's a tiny little air-gap and a spark jumps across it.

Newer switches are less prone to it, as are switches with smaller loads. As a switch gets older, the contacts corrode over time, and the arc becomes more noticeable. I wouldn't expect a 52w load to cause a pop like that, but you never know. It could have to do with the starting electronics for the CFLs. *shrugs*
 
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Old 09-23-14, 03:35 AM
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Can a problem elsewhere in the system cause noise in a switch like this? Loose connection in fixture box or another box on same circuit? The reason I ask I am 99.9 certain my connection in the switch box is secure.... the only wiring in the box is the feed and the switch leg.

FWIW this noise was occurring when the light was switch OFF.

I cant keep swapping out switches or light bulbs if the problem could be caused elsewhere. I am also hesitant to start opening other boxes on the circuit if that is not a possible cause. If this occurs again, what is my next step?
 
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Old 09-23-14, 05:58 AM
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I find the problem to happen more often when the switch is operated slowly.

The problem is not elsewhere.
 
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Old 09-23-14, 11:29 AM
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The problem is not elsewhere.
I feel like I am missing something here... both switches were not 50 cent cheapos and were not old. I know I have the wires secure. Theres has to be a better explanation??

Could the bulbs cause this? CFL ballasts?
 
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Old 09-23-14, 12:41 PM
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Cost does not always equal quality. Both switches could be from the same assembly line with the same internal parts just different terminal types and price points.
 
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Old 09-23-14, 02:01 PM
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Cost does not always equal quality. Both switches could be from the same assembly line with the same internal parts just different terminal types and price points.
I guess I stumped you guys.

FWIW: I use spec grade levitons, one of the best you will find in residential wiring. This is the only location in the home this has occurred with this type of switch which is used throughout.
 
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Old 09-23-14, 05:21 PM
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The switch has worn or deteriorated so the contacts don't open rapidly when the switch is flipped off. The slower the switch contacts touch or separate, the larger the arc, all other things being equal.

For the same number of volts and amperes the arc is greater when the switch is turned off compared with when the switch is turned on, all other things being equal including the quickness of making/breaking the connection.

For loads involving motors or transformers, which includes some fluorescent lights (inductive loads) the arc when the switch is turned off tends to be larger compared with incandescent lights or heating elements of the same voltage and wattage (resistive loads)

The larger the arc, the more wear and tear is imposed on the switch contacts.
 
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Old 09-23-14, 07:24 PM
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I guess I stumped you guys.
Not really stumped, it is just a non-issue. All switches arc snap/crackle/pop.
 
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Old 09-24-14, 04:38 AM
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I guess I stumped you guys.
No you didn't. You've got replies!

It's the posts that sit unanswered for a long time that stumped us. There is no other reason they sit unanswered.
 
 

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