Is there any kind of electrical issue that can cause lights to turn on and off by themselves?

I moved in to a new apartment last week and I've been having problems with lights turning on and off. I thought I was just being scatterbrained at first but it's happened numerous times in different rooms and I know I'm not turning them on and off. I turned all the lights off before I went out of town and came back to find the living room light on, the kitchen light turned off last night when I walked to my bedroom then back to the kitchen, and it was on this morning after I'd turned it off last night. I'm not having any problem turning them on or off myself, the switches always work properly, I just don't understand why it keeps happening.


Thanks, I'll ask my landlord to check it out!

4 Answers

  • Wired
    Lv 7
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    If you turn a switch off and the light comes back on later on, there is either a switch problem or a 3-way switch or a wireless switch that can be controlled remotely. If they are X-10 type of switches you might want to change the addess on them or just get rid of them and put standard toggle switches in. If they are toggle switches (standard wall switches) a short at the breaker box will not cause something like this. Are you sure somebody isn't playing you here?

  • 9 years ago

    I disagree with Phil. The circuit box provides power to the circuits. The lights are controlled by the switches. If the switches are single pole single throw, then there is no way they can switch on and off by themselves - unless you have ghosts. Double pole, single throw switches (also called three way switches) operate a little differently. One switch can turn a light on, the other can turn it off. However to do what you are describing, it would have to have been deliberately wired that way.

    Once I lived in a house (duplex) where both homes had a switch to control the garage light. Since the light was powered from my meter, I'd switch it off, but my neighbor would switch it back on for security reasons. One day I just had enough and replaced the three way with a single pole switch and took final control of the light. He was upset, but at least he wasn't spending my money.

    OK, this means little to your problem. Without more description of the circuitry and the events I can only guess. Now, assuming all wiring is correct, and assuming to turn the light on you must flip the switch UP, and assuming that at night you flipped the switch DOWN but woke up and the switch was UP again, maybe you're sleepwalking.

    Good luck figuring this one out.


  • Jeff D
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    What kind of switches are these? Touch switches can turn themselves on and off somewhat easily. It's almost impossible for ordinary toggle switches to turn themselves on and off, but a loose wire (at the switch or fixture) can cause a light to go on or off at odd intervals.

    Some types of LED lights and fluorescent ballasts will shut off if they overheat and then come back on after they cool down.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    A short circuit at the breaker box.

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