My Light Switch Makes a Crackling Sound When Turned On. What’s Happening?

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No one wants to deal with potential electrical problems in their home, but sometimes, things happen that you’d never expect. Homeowners are often alarmed by strange sounds coming from their appliances, outlets making buzzing noises, lights flickering nonstop, and other signs that there may be an electrical problem afoot (or, if you’re superstitious, a poltergeist…and an electrical problem).

One common problem our electricians in Newtown, PA, have run into is light switches that produce a crackling sound when turned on. Do you have these sounds coming from your light switch, or have you heard them in the past? Keep reading to discover what can cause crackling light switches — and when you should call a professional electrician for service.

Shedding Light on Light Switches

In order to understand what might be happening when your light switch makes a crackling noise, it’s important to understand how light switches work. To put it simply, light switches control the flow of electricity that is constantly running through your home. 

There is a continual current going through your electrical system. When a light switch is in the on position, your home’s electrical system operates as one continuous unit — like an unbroken circle. When you turn the switch off, you’re creating a gap in the circle, interrupting the connection between the terminals. This, in turn, cuts off the flow of electricity, which is why your lights turn off when you flip the switch at bedtime.

Possible Crackling Culprits

When you hear a crackling noise from your light switch, what you’re hearing is the electricity not following the insulated path between terminals. When the electricity jumps across gaps in the terminals, a loud pop or crack can be heard. But why is electricity trying to jump terminals? Why is it not passing through your home’s insulated wires the way it’s supposed to?

Now that you understand the basic concept of how a light switch works and what that crackling sound is, it’s time to explore some possible reasons why your light switch makes a crackling sound when turned on.

Faulty Wires

Faulty wires — whether they’re damaged from water, age, animal activity, or something else — are a big problem for your electrical system. First and foremost, they’re a fire hazard, and every time you switch on the lights, you’re risking potential fire damage to your home. Faulty wires also indicate terminals are disconnected or have loose connections, meaning your electricity ends up “jumping” and making that crackling sound.

Faulty wires can often be replaced. Loose wires can be tightened. In fact, crackling light switches often are solved by fairly simple repairs. If multiple wires are frayed or faulty, you may need more involved electrical work. 

Even if you have the proper PPE and know your stuff about electrical systems, never attempt to repair wires by yourself. It isn’t worth it when there are professionals available to provide safe and time-tested repairs.

Incorrect Insulation

A lot of energy passes through your home on a daily basis, and without the right insulation, you’ll soon have scalding hot wires on your hands. Properly insulated wires are essential to electrical system safety, so if you notice stripped insulation or feel your outlets or switches are hot to the touch, call professionals ASAP to schedule electrical repairs.

Larger System Issues

In some cases, electricians may entirely replace the switch that’s been crackling or popping in order to eliminate the issue with the terminals at its source. However, if many different outlets in your home are crackling, you might have a larger electrical system problem on your hands that a few brass screws can’t fix. The good news is that no matter what you’re dealing with, there’s a pretty good chance that we’ve seen it — and can tackle the problem with ease so you can go back to your normal everyday routine!

Call on Wes Carver Electric!

Are you looking for a reliable, friendly, and experienced electrician? Wes Carver Electric can do any job, large or small, and we’re happy to work on your home no matter if you’re upgrading your appliances or hearing those crackling light switches. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll be there before you know it. We’ll hear from you soon!