A double switch, like all other switches, may often fail to work as intended. In such a case it is necessary for the user to troubleshoot the switch.
So, what should you do when you find a double light switch not working?
The first step is to always properly diagnose the issue and find the root cause of the problem. The causes include loose connections, wrong wiring, damaged switch, etc. Based on the cause you may have to rewire or replace the switch.
I will provide an in-depth guide on how to diagnose and fix issues regarding a malfunctioning double light switch.
What Is a Double Light Switch?
A double light switch is a panel containing two different switches to operate two different circuits. They are not to be confused with “double pole switches”.
A double light switch contains two different switches and both of them are able to operate two different circuits. But they can be made to operate one single circuit. However, that is not the intended use case for such switches.
They are preferred for household use when a switchboard is not present. As they come with their own cover plates, they can be installed on their own, on any drywall, without the need for additional cover plates.
What Can Cause a Double Light Switch to Malfunction?
There may be several issues that can cause the malfunction of a double light switch. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems behind such an issue.
Causes Behind a Malfunctioning Light Switch:
1. Loose Connections:
If the connections were not made properly secure during the installation of the switch, they could come loose with time. Thus disconnecting the circuit. As a result, the switch becomes unable to operate the lights.
2. Damaged Cables:
If your circuits are very old, they might have been subjected to a lot of wear and tear over the years. Damaged cables can also be blamed on pests and vermin. If there is a cut in the line, it cannot properly supply power to the light fixture.
3. Wrong Wiring:
If you have recently gotten the switch installed and it is not working since the installation, there is a very high chance that there might be an issue with the wiring. If there is no power to light switch breaker not tripped, it might be due to an improper installation.
4. Broken Switch:
A double switch is also susceptible to wear and tear. And it is common for electrical components to malfunction. Therefore, if light switch not working power on, there is a possibility that the issue might be with the switch itself. However, it is quite easy to fix a light switch that won’t turn on.
5. Tripped GFCI/Breaker:
It is also possible for a tripped GFCI or a tripped breaker to cause this issue. It is common practice to connect other circuits with a GFCI down the line. Hence when the GFCI trips, it also prevents the flow of electricity. Hence, the switch refuses to work.
How to Fix a Double Light Switch Not Working?
There are several ways to fix a malfunctioning double light switch. Such as rewiring or resetting the breakers. Let’s explore some of these solutions thoroughly.
Resetting a Breaker:
As discussed above, a tripped breaker or a tripped GFCI might cause a double light switch to stop working. However, it is quite easy to reset one.
Steps to Reset a Breaker:
- Open the main panel.
- Locate the breaker that has been tripped.
- Simply flick the switch.
- If it is not a breaker on the main panel, check whether a GFCI exists on the same circuit.
- If the GFCI has been tripped, simply press the “reset” button on the face of the GFCI to reset it.
However, you have to pay close attention to the breakers for a while. To make sure they do not keep tripping.
If the breakers keep tripping frequently, that is an indication that there might be something wrong with the circuit and deserves further diagnosis.
Rewiring/Replacing a Double Switch:
If you find that there is something wrong with the wiring of the switch, or something wrong with the switch itself, you have to get it rewired/replaced.
Steps to Rewire/Replace a Double Switch:
- Turn off the power from the main panel.
- Make sure there is no power with a voltage tester.
- Remove the old switch from the wall. You may need to use a screwdriver.
- If you do not plan to replace the switch, in this stage, check whether the connections are properly secure or not.
- If not, properly rewire the switch, following the diagram above (Fig 2).
- Make sure the connections are secure.
- If you wish to replace the switch with a new one, disconnect the cables from the switch.
- Rewire the new switch according to the diagram (Fig 2).
Note: The color of the wires may vary based on your system and the color code of your region.
If you wanted to know the causes behind a double light switch not working, this article should have made it clear to you by now. I have detailed both the causes for the issue.
This article also talks about how to fix such issues. However, if you feel intimidated by the procedure, or cannot locate the problem properly, make sure to consult a professional, as there could be other underlying factors at play.