In your home you will probably find a few different types of switches controlling light fixtures or electrical outlets. There are single pole switches controlling things from a single location, three-way switches controlling lights or outlets from two locations and for larger homes or complicated situations, a four way switch may be used to control lighting or outlets from three or more locations. I describe these different types of switches in the tutorial Types of Electrical Switches in the Home where I’ll also explain how to tell what type of switch you have.
When a switch stops “switching” then it’s time to troubleshoot and repair or replace the switch. Before you do any work on a switch, make sure power is turned off at the electrical panel. You may also want to use a circuit tracer to identify the circuit breaker or fuse you need to turn off.
Now let’s take a look at some common problems and solutions to electrical switch repair.