Light switches are an essential part of our day-to-day life. You cannot imagine a single day that doesn’t go by, without using a light switch. Given how extensively they are used, they are often subjected to heavy wear and tear.

And the result? A malfunctioning light switch. This brings us to our topic for today. How to fix a light switch that won’t turn on?

The first step is to identify the problem. As varying issues require varying solutions. But the common fixes for such an issue tend to be quite simple. Such as rewiring the circuit, replacing the switch, turning on a breaker, etc.

In this article, I will provide you with an in-depth guide on how to troubleshoot and fix any issue regarding a malfunctioning light switch that you may encounter.

Guide to Fixing a Malfunctioning Light Switch

What Causes a Light Switch to Malfunction?

Before a person can move on to resolving a malfunctioning light switch, one must know the exact cause behind the malfunction. There can be several causes behind a broken light switch.

Let’s take a quick look at some of those causes. But keep in mind, the reasons behind a double light switch not working may be different.

Causes Behind a Malfunctioning Light Switch:

1. Faulty Wiring:

The most common and simple issue for a light switch to not work properly is faulty wiring. When the circuit isn’t completed properly due to damaged, loose, or neglected connections, it can cause a light switch to not work properly. What if the light switch not working but light is on? It could be also due to faulty wiring or a short in the line.

2. Broken Light Switch:

The second most common cause is a broken or damaged light switch. In such a case one must opt for a replacement. One can either choose to perform the task himself, as the procedure is quite simple. Or he may choose to hire a professional for the tasks.

3. Burnt Out/Tripped Fuse:

If for any reason, your fuse or circuit breaker has tripped, it will prevent a light switch from turning the light on. As a result, it’s critical to check your circuit breaker before purchasing a new light switch. You may sometimes fix the problem by replacing a fuse. However, if you often have burned-out fuses, you may want to reconsider how much electricity you’re using to avoid overloading your home’s wiring.

4. Broken Light Bulb:

Let’s consider this factor as well. The issue may not be with your switch or circuit at all. It could be due to a broken light bulb. To ensure that the light bulb is working properly, attach it to a socket that you know works properly and try to turn it on. If the light does not turn on, you have found your culprit. Now all you need is to acquire a new light bulb.

These are some of the most common causes behind a light switch malfunction. But worry not, most of these are simple to fix. I will get into the steps to address these issues in the next segment.

How to Fix a Malfunctioning Light Switch?

The fix varies based on the root cause of the issue. Hence, it is necessary to figure out the cause first. And once you have figured it out, you may move on to fixing the issue.

Here are some methods on how to fix a light switch that won’t turn on.

Rewiring the Circuitry:

If you find out that you indeed have faulty wiring, you may have to rewire the circuitry in order for the light switch to work properly. Let’s take a look at the steps to rewire.

  1. Turn off the power from the main panel.
  2. Open up the light switch and socket.
  3. Make sure that the cables are not damaged or have a loose connection.
  4. If you find a loose connection, rewire it properly and make it as secure as possible using either screws or electrical tape. Whichever method works best.
  5. However, if you find a damaged cable, replace the damaged segment with a new piece of cable.

It should resolve any issue regarding faulty wiring in your light bulb’s circuit.

Replacing a Light Switch:

A broken light switch is quite easy to replace by oneself without consulting a professional. The steps are as follows:

General Light Switch Wiring Diagram (Without Ground)
Fig 1- General Light Switch Wiring Diagram (Without Ground)

Steps to replace a light switch:

  1. Turn off the power from the main panel.
  2. Remove the cover plate of the old switch (if any).
  3. Detach the cables connected to the old switch.
  4. Acquire a new replacement switch, preferably of the same type, and rewire the cables.
  5. You may follow the diagram provided above (Fig 1).
  6. Turn the power back on from the main panel.
  7. Check to see if the new switch works as intended.

Resetting a Tripped Fuse:

Due to access loads or other electrical malfunctions, your circuit breaker or fuse may trip. Which leads to the disconnection of a certain circuit. Any and all electrical appliances in that circuit will cease to work.

It is one of the reasons that might cause your light switch to not function properly. The solution is quite simple. Locate the tripped breaker, and simply flick it in the opposite direction.

However, if you find that this is a common occurrence, you may need to decrease the load on your circuit. And if the issue still persists, it is advised to get a professional to take a look at it.

Replacing a Lightbulb:

I believe all of us are familiar with this one. If the issue isn’t with your light switch, but rather your light bulb, the only thing to do is to get it replaced.

But before buying a light bulb, make sure the connectors on the bulb match with the socket you wish to use it with. As there are several light bulb connectors available on the market. And each of them requires a unique socket. So, it is essential to make sure you are buying the right one.

These are some of the fixes for some of the most common issues regarding a light bulb switch not working properly.


I hope this article has taught you how to fix a light switch that won’t turn on. As well as the causes behind a light switch malfunction. However, the issues may vary from case to case. Hence, I have tried to include as many possible causes and fixes as possible.

If you still cannot properly identify the issue behind your light switch not working, do not hesitate to consult a professional. As it sometimes could be due to an obscure circuit malfunction, which may be hard to find for an average person.

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