Electrical Wiring in the Home/sparks coming from light switch


Hi there, this morning the downstairs renter noticed sparks shooting out of the light switch in the laundry room, while it was on. He immediately shut it off. We recently did some plumbing repairs and the ground wire for the house is not properly hooked up. The  house is 50-60 yrs old. I hestitate to shut the power off, there's a freezer in there full of food with the extension cord plugged in right above the light switch in question. Should I reroute that cord to another part of the house and shut off the whole laundry room? Thanks so much for any help, much appreciated. Colleen in North Vancouver BC


The problem in the switch box is probably not related to the plumbing repairs but the wire you refer to should at least be hooked up in a temporary manner till the plumbing work is completed. Then have it reconnected properly.

The switch may very well have sparked because its not making proper contact any more or the there may be an issue with the light fixture it controls. It sounds like you may have a "combination" switch / receptacle which is one device with two different items. In this case a switch and receptacle. With this type of device the switch part is notorious for going bad.

I would say as long as you have not tripped a breaker and your not trying to turn the light on you can temporarliy continue to run the ext cord off this receptacle. However I can't say its OK for you to continue powering the freezer this way. It should be plugged directly into its own receptacle. Extension cords are potential fire hazzards. Try to get the freezer plugged in properly and you probably need a new switch or combination switch/recept to correct the sparking.

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"The Frank Williams School of Electrical Construction". My dear old boss is 100 ! and still going God Bless him. I started working for "Tenafly Electric" right out of high school at 19. He was tough but I learned more working for him in 8 and half years than most guys. We did mostly industrial work while doing some commercial and residential so I was fortunate to be exposed to all 3 areas of electrical construction. The guys I worked with were all good guys and I stay in touch with some of them still. Most of us went into our own buisness's which says something about the caliber of the guys I worked with. We had some interesting clients : Wella Corp. of shampoo fame, Farah Fawcett etc, I didn't buy shampoo for 10 years. It was a great place to work. Pan Am the former airline just before they went under, another great place to work, nice clean environment. C&C Metals, the largest button manufacturer in the US at that time, a not so clean environment but a very interesting place to work, lots of machine's cranking out buttons of all kinds but you had to be on your toes, it was a potentially dangerous place to be . All kinds of action going on around you.

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