All Safety

What a turn off: 5 big reasons to fix that broken switch urgently

Broken switches are among the most serious electrical safety risks in our homes, yet the easiest to rectify. So why don’t we get them fixed?

Unless you’re a crazy electrician, it’s not the most exciting piece of equipment in our homes. A properly functioning switch for a light or power point doesn’t command any great attention.

So what about a switch that still works, but just doesn’t feel right? A dolly (toggle) that’s cracked, or looks like it’s trying to break free from it’s wall plate?

My experience with the mechanisms commonly used in Australian domestic switches reveals 5 reasons to get these dying switches replaced without delay.

1. Shock Hazard

By far the primary reason to replace a failing light switch is the electrical shock hazard it presents.

The switch dolly is all that’s in between your finger and the live, high voltage contacts behind.

The most common failure on an Australian switch, as pictured above, is with one of the two plastic pins that hold the dolly in place. Once one pin breaks, it takes very little for the remaining pin to fail, exposing live contacts.

2. Using Switches in the Dark

While most broken electrical equipment is easily visible to someone about to touch it, under what circumstances is a light switch likely to be used?

Blind, in the dark.

If that switch fails in the dark, and the light does not come on as a result, guess where the fingers are going for a repeat attempt?

3. Risk of Fire

To make a good electrical contact, the switch depends on pressure exerted on it’s contacts from the switch dolly via a spring.

When the dolly is loose, the pressure, and thus the strength of the contact, is reduced.

A poor connection within the switch can lead to arcing, and ultimately fire.

4. A Simple, Inexpensive and Convenient Repair

The replacement of a light switch or power point switch is one of the simplest and least expensive jobs an electrician could ever be called out to.

For example, here is a typical cost breakdown for Definite Electrical to replace a broken switched double power point in Inala, QLD 4077, as of 12 May 2023.

Return Travel Time (Hour)0.33$39.47$13.16
Travel Distance (Km)11.6$0.12$1.39
Clipsal C2025 Classic Double Power Point 10A1$6.95$6.95
Please see for comprehensive and current pricing.

Power will need to be turned off briefly to the affected circuit.

5. No Need for Costly Upgrades

In order to perform some electrical work, older installations may need to be overhauled to current standards, and at great expense.

However, there is no legal requirement for any upgrade to existing equipment to replace a broken switch or power point. This applies even if the installation is equipped by an old fuse board and no safety switch.

In the course of replacing the switch, other safety issues may be discovered. However, replacing the switch is not itself going to lead to any forced expensive upgrades to other equipment.

Upgrading a house or unit to today’s safety standards is highly recommended, and is required in Queensland anyway if the property is sold or leased. But where this is not possible, replacing a broken switch is still a step in the right direction.

Don’t put it off any longer!

It’s one of the most common and dangerous electrical defects I have encountered in domestic electrical work, and the simplest and cheapest to repair.

So whether a homeowner, landlord or even a tenant, for safety’s sake, book online here and switch that switch without delay.

By Stuart Graves

Stuart's been playing with electricity since infancy. After beginning his career with software engineering and IT support, Stuart has returned to his original passion with a mature age apprenticeship and electrician's qualification. This new career has since merged with the previous to provide experience with renewable energy management, automation, monitoring and all things electric vehicles.