Is your shower switch burning out? You can forgive one incident. But if it keeps happening again and again, you should take action because something is clearly wrong. But what could cause a shower switch to burning out, and what can you do about it? This guide will tell you.
Shower Switch Keeps Burning Out – Why?
Shower switches are not complicated. If yours keeps burning out, one or more of these factors is at fault:
Circuits have breakers that trip when an overload occurs. However, you cannot trust a breaker to respond adequately every single time. You will see overloading in switches that have to carry more current than their rating permits.
Overloads are nothing to scoff at. If you’re lucky, they will simply cause the switch to burnout. But don’t be surprised if an overload starts a fire. DIY Stack Exchange warns against a similar problem.
If your switch is underrated, you have to replace it with a heavier switch. If the heavier switch burns out, you have a different problem. Keep troubleshooting the issue.
2). Fuse Has a Higher Rating Than The Switch
Does the fuse size match the rating of the shower switch? If the fuse has a higher rating than the switch, it won’t respond quickly enough to prevent the excess current from ruining the switch.
You can change the switch or the fuse. If the problem persists, keep troubleshooting.
3). Loose Connections
Loose connections are a common cause of shower switch failure. Some contractors make mistakes. They wire the switches poorly, leaving room for arcing to occur. In other cases, external factors such as physical damage can compromise the connections in the switch.
Either way, arcing can cause significant damage before you realize that things have gone wrong. The wires could melt and ignite, starting a fire. If you haven’t observed any arcing, don’t be so quick to celebrate.
Loose connections will increase the resistance in the wires, and an increase in resistance can lead to overheating. Overheating will lead to a fire if it goes unchecked.
4). Poor Quality Switches
Where did you buy your switch? How much did it cost? People pay very little attention to the quality of the switches they buy. They don’t realize that poor-quality switches cannot deliver the same durability and longevity their high-quality counterparts offer.
Cheap switches are fragile. Some of them will burn out almost immediately.
5). Older Switch
How old is your switch? These devices tend to wear out over time. You cannot use them forever. After a few years, the wiring will deteriorate, leading to arcing and overheating. You can’t fix old switches.
You can try, but they will betray you after a while. They won’t give you the peace of mind you need.
6). Pollutants Causing Arcing
Have you checked the switch for pollutants like corrosion, dust, and grime? These elements will invade the switch over time, increasing the resistance and creating arcing. As you know, arcing is bad because it can melt the wires and start fires.
Dead switches on surges caused an unstable grid. You may find similar occurrences in homes with an unstable electrical system.
Read Light Switch Distance From Shower
Symptoms Shower Switch Is Going To Burn
You have two significant symptoms, and they tend to stand out. As such, you don’t have to worry about failing to notice them. The first is the sparks. You will see tiny sparks whenever you use a switch threatening to burn out.
Electricians will tell you that sparks always occur when you flip a switch, but you shouldn’t see them. Therefore, if the arcing is so prominent that you can see it, something has gone wrong.
Either you have loose connections, or your switch is approaching the end of its lifespan. Either way, you have a problem that requires your immediate attention.
But for some people, sparks are the least of their concerns. More disturbing is the noise. Faulty shower switches will generate all kinds of sounds. Some people will hear clicking.
Others may notice a buzzing or sawing sound. Most homeowners use the term ‘crackling’ or ‘popping’ to describe it. Regardless of your terminology, the results are the same.
Shower switches shouldn’t generate loud noises of that nature. And if yours is keeping you up at night with its crackling and popping, you should inspect it before it’s too late.
One other notable symptom that people rarely notice is overheating. When was the last time you touched the shower switch? Some people won’t notice the worrying warmth of their switch because their finger doesn’t stay on the switch long enough to take note of the temperature.
It takes a fraction of a second to use a shower switch. That is not long enough to determine whether the switch is warmer than usual. Even though electricity generates heat as it passes through a conductor, switches should be cool to the touch. Any notable warmth should concern you.
How To Prevent From The Shower Switch From Burning?
1). Take a moment to inspect the switch. If the switch is physically damaged, you should replace it. Look for loose mechanisms. You should also listen to crackling and buzzing noises. Don’t take any chances on a crackling switch with signs of physical damage.
2). De-energize the circuit. Remove the cover and look for loose connections. Reconnect any wires that came loose.
3). Use a continuity tester on the switch. If the device cannot detect continuity, you have a faulty switch. Replace it before it burns out.
4). Avoid overloading by fitting the switch with the appropriate fuse. You don’t want the switch to receive more current than it can handle. This will happen if the fuse has a higher rating than the switch.
Therefore, you have to match the switch to the fuse. If the fuse is too big, get a heftier switch. You can also buy a smaller fuse. You cannot trust a large fuse to protect a switch with a smaller rating.
5). If you notice troubling signs such as overheating and crackling, open the switch and look for dirt and debris. Dirt and debris will cause high resistance and arcing. You can prevent these occurrences by cleaning the switch. Don’t forget to eliminate any corrosion you find.
6). Who wired the switch? Was it you? Some shower switches malfunction because you wired them poorly. Maybe you connected the wrong wires to the wrong terminals.
If you hired a licensed professional, they probably made a mistake. Licensed electricians are not perfect. Consult a different expert and ask them to inspect the wiring. They can fix any problems they find before the switch burns out.
7). If you bought the switch yourself, ask a licensed contractor to buy a replacement. You cannot trust low-quality switches to stand the test of time. Unfortunately, many homeowners purchase poor-quality switches because they want to save money.
Others do not know how to differentiate between good switches and their cheaply-made counterparts. As such, you cannot fault them for selecting defective products.
An experienced electrician knows all the best brands. Therefore, you can trust them to make a solid selection. Poor quality switches only seem cheap because consumers do not realize how quickly they typically wear out.
They are more expensive in the long run because you must replace them repeatedly.
What To Do If Shower Switch is Burning? Safety Tips
If your shower switch is burning, find the electrical panel and flip the main breaker to the off position. This is the most important step you can take because it de-energizes the circuit, making the switch less of a threat.
At this point, you can start inspecting the switch. To be on the safe side, get rubber shoes and gloves. You should also wear goggles. Don’t forget to label the main breaker to prevent other people from turning the power back on.
Remove the cover plate and use a tester on the wires. Do they have electricity? Don’t tamper with the switch if the conductors have power. Otherwise, you can start searching for the source of burnout.
This assumes that you have electrical experience. If you don’t, turn the power off and wait for a professional to arrive. You can cover the switch with tape to prevent other people from using it until an expert comes.