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Old 01-13-2005, 08:46 AM
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Broken light switch isn't going to burn the house down, is it?

It will likely be a day or two more before the super gets in to fix this, but I'm wondering if this is dangerous or not: One of our light switches has broken, let's see if I can describe this properly, the little ring that surrounds the switch itself has broken and now the switch (the switch being the little external plastic thing that you flip) is hanging more or less loose inside the casing. The interior working is still operable although it takes some fiddling.

I assume that the interior functions of the light aren't affected and that we're in no danger of either electric shocks or causing a small fire. Would you say this is the case?
Old 01-13-2005, 09:02 AM
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From your description, this sounds like a switch (probably a toggle switch, looks like one of these) on a floor or table lamp, not a wall switch.

Depending on how the lamp is constructed, there may be some risk of shock if the terminals of the switch come into contact with metal inside the lamp. I'd unplug it, just in case.
Old 01-13-2005, 09:17 AM
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If it shorted out (causing overheating and a fire risk) then the fuse or breaker would have blown/cut out, so I'd say no risk of fire. There might be a risk of shock if there are any exposed metal parts, or exposed screw heads that are not earthed properly.

If the switch and wiring were installed properly you are pretty safe.

If all the bits you touch are plastic the worst that will happen is that by wiggling the switch you short out the circuit (with a bang) and blow the fuse, alarming but not dangerous.
Old 01-13-2005, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Small Clanger
If it shorted out (causing overheating and a fire risk) then the fuse or breaker would have blown/cut out, so I'd say no risk of fire.
Not completely true. You can have an unsafe condition and not have the circuit or fuse blow. A sparking switch can heat up enough to start the drywall or wood 2x4 on fire without causing the breaker to trip. It's the same situation with a loose wire that doesn't make good contact with the outlet, or switch. The arcing in the switch may only be 5 or 10 amps worth, yet the breaker may be a 15 or 20 amp breaker.
There are new breakers on the market now that are called 'Arc Fault' breakers. They can detect arc faults and will trip before their rated current is met.

In the OP's case I would only be concerned if the switch made a crackling sound (the sound of an arc flash). However, I would have the super replace it immedialtely. In the mean time, just try to use it sparingly. You should be safe when the switch is off, obviously, there will not be a load through the switch if it's off.
Old 01-13-2005, 10:53 AM
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That's possible I suppose, though I'd think that any arcing sparks or bangs (and probably a flickering light too) would have scared the Chairman off using the switch at all.

But yes, if it's giving you zzz...zzz...zzz... Dr Frankenstein sound effects then leave it turned off.
Old 01-13-2005, 07:29 PM
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Here's a diagram of a wall switch (side view).
http://1728.com/project2.htm
(Scroll down a screen or 2).

Yes the photo that SavageNarce posted is also a toggle switch but those are not used as wall switches.
Old 01-14-2005, 08:30 AM
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From the OP description I don't think we are talking about a wall switch. Wall switches are fixed in place by metal tabs behind the cover plate, and are fixed to the wall box by screws. If an external part, "the little ring that surrounds the switch itself" broke, a wall switch would not hang "more or less loose inside the casing." This sounds to me like a toggle switch toggle or rotary switch that is installed on an appliance or lamp. These switches are held in place by a nut or knurled, threaded ring that, if it failed, would allow the switch to slip inside the housing.
Old 01-14-2005, 02:15 PM
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SavageNarce
Yes, sorry for thinking you were wrong.

I guess what misled me was the fact "the super" would fix it. (Do they fix lamps you own?) Also, if you are worried about a fire, then just unplug the darned thing.

Perhaps Chairman Pow could clarify this.
Old 01-14-2005, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf_meister
I guess what misled me was the fact "the super" would fix it. (Do they fix lamps you own?)
Yeah, that threw me too. But then I remembered my mother-in-law gets her Super to fix all kinds of things not related to her apartment: light fixtures, furniture, "Can you open this jar?" - everything but a broken heart and the break of day!
Old 01-14-2005, 06:48 PM
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It is indeed a wall switch. If we use the link SavageNarce provided for reference, the plastic switch (the actual part you touch) is loose.

From examining the other links, it appears that the plastic part is not in danger of melting nor are any of the electrical conducting parts likely to short circut.
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