Electric Light Switch Sizzles, Sparks then Smokes

3 Replies

All,

I preface this post by stating that before proceeding with this deal I will ABSOLUTELY have an electrician check out this house.  However I thought I would toss this up and see if anyone has a theory as to the issue and possible severity.

I believe the house was built in 1961 and it looks like they had the fuse box switched over to a breaker panel in 2002.  I was touring the property and flipped on the switch to the hallway light. After a moment I noticed a humming noise and the light went out.  I turned the switch to the off position and noticed a small amount of smoke coming out from behind the face plate.  I turned on my video camera and repeated the process.  If you check out the YouTube link you can see a blue spark from inside the switch and then the puff of smoke when I turn it off.  Here is the link:  https://youtu.be/6wLlTPAeNLw  

My first thought was aluminum wiring but I didn't think they started using aluminum wiring in houses until the late 1960's. I was also very surprised that the breaker didn't trip!

I would love to hear from anyone who has had a similar issue and what the outcome was. 

Note: The house is in PA South West of Philly

Thanks!

sounds like they used a breaker that is too big. shouldn't be anymore that a 15 amp, thats why it is not tripping. second, replace that light and the switch. one or the other is hooked up wrong

My guess... the wiring is carrying too much load and the breaker is oversized. 

Noise comes from vibration, vibration comes from excess energy being channeled incorrectly.

Be prepared to rewire the house.

@Jason Hatfield

That is most likely a faulty switch. The switch is not getting full contact and you are hearing the arc. That being said, I am not an electrician by trade.