Why Is My Wall Warm Near the Light Switch or Outlet?

by Kaia Koglin
Closeup of A finger is turning on a lighting switch on concrete texture wall background with copyspce.

In most cases, the area around a light switch or outlet shouldn't be much hotter than room temperature. There are many possible causes for a warm outlet or a light switch that's hot to the touch, and some are more serious than others. Wiring issues or an excessive load are common problems.

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If you notice excessive heat, you should get it checked out to ensure the safety of your home and family.

What Are Some Reasons My Wall Is Warm Near the Light Switch?

There are several reasons why your wall might be warm near a light switch. Let's take a look at some of these issues, along with the best ways to fix them.

Excessive Load

Light switches are only designed to handle a certain amount of power. If they handle too much, they become overloaded. Replacing old switches with high-capacity switches is the best way to solve the problem.

Failing Switch

Like everything in your home, light switches can eventually wear out. Worn switches can spark slightly and burn the electrical contacts, which causes heat. Failing switches should be replaced.

Faulty Wiring

A loose or broken wire that's making contact can still work. However, electricity is forced to take a smaller path than intended through the wire, causing excessive heat. Faulty wiring must be replaced.

Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches intentionally get warm. To dim the lights, they dissipate the power of the electricity. This can cause the switch to warm up, but it shouldn't be excessively hot. If you're in doubt, check the manufacturer's temperature rating or get it checked out by an electrician.

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What Are Some Reasons My Wall Is Warm Near the Outlet?

Several issues can cause the wall near your outlet to become warm. Some of the most common causes are outlined below.

Large Plug or ‘Wall Wart’

“Wall wart” is the name used by electronics enthusiasts for large, square plugs that take up a lot of space. They're often chargers for phones, laptops or other electronic devices. It's not uncommon for these plugs to produce heat, causing the outlet to become hot. Unplug the wall wart and leave it for a couple of hours to see if the outlet cools down. If it doesn't, there's likely something wrong that needs attention.

Too Many Devices

If you're like many people, you don't have enough outlets for your electrical devices. Using a power strip or outlet multiplier can help manage this, but these still draw more energy than an outlet normally would. This leads to overheating. Try unplugging a few things and waiting a while. If the outlet still feels warm, you should get it checked out.

Damaged Infrastructure

You can normally see if this is a problem, as a part of the outlet or plug will be broken. This commonly causes outlets to overheat. Damaged outlets or plugs should be immediately replaced.

Demand on the Circuit

If there's too much demand on a home's electrical system, it can cause warm electrical outlets. This is more common in older homes, as they weren't built with modern devices and increased technology use in mind. If your home's electrical system can't manage all the current flowing, it should be rewired for your safety.

Incorrectly Sized Fuse or Breaker

This is another issue found in older homes that weren't designed to manage a lot of electrical devices. A new fuse or breaker can help your electrical system work more effectively and stop causing warm outlets.

Is It Serious?

A hot light switch or warm outlet can definitely be serious. Electrical faults can spark fires. Faulty or damaged wiring can also cause electrical shocks when people use them, which can have serious health consequences. However, there are times when unplugging a few devices can solve the issue. If you're worried or the problem continues, always get a professional opinion.

Do I Need to Call an Electrician?

You should call an electrician as soon as you notice a problem with your outlet. As electrical faults are a fire hazard, you want a licensed professional to diagnose and repair the problem quickly. An electrician can inspect your wiring, fuse and breaker and recommend a solution. In general, you shouldn't do your own electrical work. It can be dangerous, and in many cases, it's also illegal to do this work without a license.

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