You can expect a wall switch to last about 30 to 40 years, but a switch that is frequently used or in an unconditioned room, such as a garage, will have a shorter life.
Like any other mechanical device, a wall switch eventually wears out and needs to be replaced. Here’s a few of the signs that it’s time:
•• Switch seems loose, does not jump between on/off quickly.
•• Delayed response. Takes a second to turn on a light, for example.
•• Makes buzzing, popping, or sizzling sound.
•• And, of course, any smoke or burning smell.
Also, see our blog posts How can I figure out what a mystery wall switch does? and How does a three-way switch work? and Are wall light switches required be "up" for "on" and "down" for "off”?
Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?
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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRICAL WIRING:
• Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?
• Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?
• What is the maximum spacing requirement for securing NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable)?
• Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring?
• What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?
• What are typical aluminum service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?
• Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels?
• Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?
• Why is a strain relief clamp necessary for the cord connection to some electric appliances?
• Does a wire nut connection need to be wrapped with electrical tape?
• What is the minimum clearance of overhead electric service drop wires above a house roof?
• What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?
• What is the color code for NM cable (Romex®) sheathing?
• Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?
• How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?
• Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall?
• What is an open electrical splice?
• What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?
• What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house?
• What is an "open junction box"?
• How dangerous is old electrical wiring?
• What is a ground wire?
• I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring?
• What is "knob and tube" wiring?
• What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?
Visit our ELECTRICAL and LIFE EXPECTANCY pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.