Why Am I Getting Shocked When I Touch My Light Switch?

February 16, 2022 11:11 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’ve ever gone to turn the lights on in your home and been zapped by a shock of electricity from the light switch, you likely walked away feeling a little shaken. Why would you get shocked by a light switch in your home in the first place? What can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

While this seems like a simple enough question, there’s more at work here than you may initially think. In order to understand why your light switches are shocking you, you’ll have to learn about what types of electricity are at work in your home and how you’re interacting with them. To learn more, read on.

What causes a light switch to shock you?

Being shocked in your home is concerning. It could either be a sign of a serious underlying electrical problem that you need to address as soon as possible, or it could be nothing to worry about at all. Here’s what you need to know about the different reasons you may be getting shocked, how to determine which one you’re experiencing and what to do in response.

Shocks from static electricity

Static shocks in the home are common and nothing to be concerned about. Static builds up in the air when conditions are dry, like in cool winter months when we turn our heat up high. Without moisture to conduct static electricity away from our bodies, we get a small zap whenever we get close to or touch a metal object, including the small screws that hold on light switch covers or the metal plates that surround the switch itself. While uncomfortable, these small shocks are not dangerous.

Shocks from faulty light switch

The potential causes for this type of shock are more diverse and could be very dangerous. Here are some examples:

  • Light switch is not grounded: If your light switch is defective, it could become electrified and dangerous to touch. When properly grounded, electrical leakage would be conducted away from the surface, stopping the possibility of a shock; if not, you could come into contact with an electrical current leak.
  • Damaged wiring: It may be that you’re getting shocked because of a wiring issue in your home. Damaged wires leak electricity, which you may come into contact with. Signs of damaged wires include flickering lights, switches that are warm to the touch and unexplained burning smells.
  • Defective switch: If there’s something wrong with your light switch (like a bad conductor or capacitor or loose wire connections), it may be causing electrical leakage. If you can see a wire out of place or see sparks flying, this may be the case—and it could be very dangerous.

Any of the above situations have the potential to be very dangerous and should be handled by a professional. If a light switch in your home is shocking you and you’re concerned it’s a serious electrical issue, trip the power fuse and get an electrician to take a look as soon as possible. The trusted electricians at Wilkinson Electric Inc. are here to help, so contact us to learn more!

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