Why Do I Get Shocked When I Touch My Light Switch?

15 Dec

Have you ever walked into a room, reached for the switch on the wall to engage the lights, and gotten zapped by a sudden static discharge? Why do I get shocked when I touch my light switch? you might ask. There is more to know about this event than just that a spark jumped out at your fingers. The next time it happens, as it likely will, you’ll have more to say than “That light switch shocked me!”

Why Do I Get Shocked When I Touch My Light Switch?

  • Built-up static electricity
  • Faulty Light Switch
  • Outdated Electrical Switch
  • Faulty appliances or electrical devices

The Main Concerns of Static Shocks

 When something like a static shock from a light switch happens, there is always a concern that it could have been worse, or perhaps that it was worse, and your body is not prepared to handle the electrical charge. However, more often than not, the amount of static discharge received from such a contact is not dangerous, though it may be painful depending upon different circumstances. A significant amount of static electricity may well be building upon that surface. Still, there is often not enough current to create any genuinely threatening damage to the human body.

 Still, you are right to be concerned about unexpected electrical discharges, especially when it is a recurring event from the same fixture. Sometimes, metal surfaces, such as screws and baseplates, can cause a shock from just ambient static electricity or a brush with particular fabrics. However, a recurring electrical discharge could signify faulty wiring or fixtures, and electricians should conduct an investigation immediately.

Can Static Shock Make Me Sick?This infographic shows why you keep getting shocked by the light switch.

The arc of an electric discharge from static shock can make your earlobes itch and your hair feel like it’s crawling to getaway. Still, typically, there is not enough current to cause permanent or even lasting damage to the human body. The situation will amplify in more miniature humans due to their lowered surface area, creating a higher charge. However, it’s still not going to be enough to kill or even seriously hurt a baby.

 Perhaps the most feared accounts of static electricity have to do with fuel types and the contact between sparks and gasoline. However, so long as you do not have any fuel sources readily available near the offending light switch, it seems unlikely that you will have to worry about this slight chance of such an event occurring. 

Could I Have a Delayed Reaction to an Electrical Shock?

 As much as we have tried to reassure you about the mild effects of an electric discharge from your switch, it’s important to note that there are a few rare conditions that may be triggered by a sudden electrical shock, no matter how hurtless it may have been. Being aware of these symptoms can help you avoid a more severe condition later. In addition, of course, any damage to the nervous system, whether small or significant, should be taken seriously, but there is little danger to most people.

 The most severe thing to watch out for is cardiac arrhythmia, indicating an impending heart attack. Likewise, unexpected seizures and muscle spasms indicate much more severe conditions, though they could be triggered by an electrical shock, no matter how innocuous. If you have any such condition to your knowledge, the best thing is to be aware of your body’s reaction and to inform your doctor of the event if necessary.

What Do I Do if I Get an Unexpected Shock?

 First off, don’t use yourself as a guinea pig. If you have repeatedly received a significant shock from the same fixture, take a look at it. Better yet, call an electrician and let them do what they get paid to do. Your fingers will thank you.

 It’s best to tape off a possibly damaged or improperly wired switch with masking tape to avoid anybody coming into contact with the affected surface. Remember to note any visible damage or missing parts of the fixture before you cover it so you can report that to an electrician, if necessary.

 If you believe you can handle the repair yourself, be sure to disconnect the power to that fixture and use proper protective gear to avoid additional injury. An ounce of prevention prevents a pound of “That light switch shocked me!”

Attaboy Electrician Littleton serves the Littleton metro area with superior quality and reliable residential electrician services. Our certified technicians and Master Electricians provide professional, affordable service and electrical repairs. Attaboy Electrician Services does home rewiring, electrical installations including breaker panels, electrical panel repairs, lighting installation services, and appliance installations. Call us today at (303) 288-2269 to schedule an appointment!