Explained: Why Your Shower Switch Keeps Burning Out

Explained: Why Your Shower Switch Keeps Burning Out

Shower switches are essential components in our bathrooms, ensuring a seamless and safe shower experience.

However, like all electrical devices, they can sometimes face issues.

One of the most perplexing problems homeowners often encounter is a shower switch that keeps burning out.

The most common reason a shower switch keeps burning out is because the shower switch is being overloaded.

Let’s dive into the reasons behind this and how to prevent it.

Shower Switch Keeps Burning Out
Credit: @Chris Horswill

The Role of the Shower Switch

Before we delve into the issues, it’s crucial to understand the role of the shower switch.

Typically, this switch controls the power supply to electric showers.

When activated, it allows electricity to flow to the shower unit, heating the water.

Given its vital role, any malfunction can disrupt your all-important morning shower!

Related: How to Fix a Shower Pull Cord Not Working

Reasons Your Shower Switch Keeps Burning Out

1. Overloading

The primary reason switches burn out is overloading. If your shower draws more current than the switch can handle, it can cause overheating. Always ensure that the switch’s amperage rating matches or exceeds the shower’s power rating.

Related: What Size Cable For an Electric Shower?

2. Poor Quality Switch

Not all switches are created equal. Opting for a cheaper, lower-quality switch might save you money initially but can lead to frequent burnouts. Always invest in high-quality, reputable brands.

3. Faulty Wiring

Improper or aged wiring can lead to increased resistance, causing the switch to overheat. Regularly inspect your wiring for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion.

4. Inadequate Ventilation

Switches, especially those with higher amperage ratings, can generate heat during operation. If placed in a confined space without proper ventilation, the accumulated heat can cause the switch to burn out.

5. Frequent Power Surges

Power surges can damage the internal components of a switch, reducing its lifespan. If you notice other electrical devices in your home also malfunctioning, power surges might be the culprit.

Related: How to Fix a Shower Switch Not Working

Signs Your Shower Switch is About to Burn Out

Recognizing the early signs of a shower switch on the brink of failure is crucial for safety and uninterrupted shower use.

Here are detailed indicators that your shower switch might be nearing the end of its lifespan:

  1. Inconsistent Power Supply: If your shower experiences intermittent power or suddenly turns off and on, the switch might be malfunctioning. This inconsistency can be due to worn-out internal components or loose connections.
  2. Overheating: A switch that feels unusually hot to the touch is a clear sign of potential issues. Overheating can result from overloading, poor ventilation, or internal wear and tear.
  3. Audible Buzzing or Humming: A healthy switch should operate silently. If you hear a buzzing or humming sound when the switch is activated, it indicates a possible electrical issue, often related to loose connections or a failing component.
  4. Burning Smell: A distinct burning or acrid odour emanating from the switch is a serious warning sign. This smell can result from overheating components or melting insulation.
  5. Visible Signs of Damage: Inspect the switch for any visible signs of scorching, discolouration, or melting. These are clear indicators of excessive heat or short-circuiting within the switch.
  6. Difficulty in Operation: If the pull cord becomes harder to pull or the switch itself feels stiff or sticky, it might be due to wear and tear or internal damage.
  7. Frequent Tripping: If the circuit breaker linked to your shower frequently trips when the shower is in use, it could be a sign that the switch is drawing more power than it should, indicating a potential fault.
  8. Age of the Switch: Like all components, switches have a lifespan. If your switch is over a decade old and you start noticing any of the above signs, it might be nearing its end.

If you observe any of these signs, it’s essential to address the issue promptly.

While some problems might be fixable, others might require a complete switch replacement.

In either case, consulting with a certified electrician ensures safety and proper resolution.

Related: How to Wire a Shower Switch

Preventing Shower Switch Burnouts

Ensuring the longevity and proper functioning of your shower switch is crucial not just for convenience, but also for safety.

Let’s delve deeper into the preventive measures you can take to avoid frequent shower switch burnouts.

1. Match Ratings

  • Understanding Ratings: Every electric shower and switch comes with a specific power or amperage rating. This rating indicates the maximum amount of current the device can handle safely.
  • Importance of Matching: Using a switch that isn’t rated for the shower’s power can lead to overheating and potential fire hazards. Overloading the switch consistently will inevitably lead to its premature failure.
  • Consulting Guidelines: Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines when choosing a switch. If the information isn’t readily available, consider reaching out to the manufacturer or a trusted retailer.

2. Quality Matters

  • Long-Term Investment: While high-quality switches might have a higher upfront cost, they are designed to withstand regular use and potential electrical inconsistencies better than their cheaper counterparts.
  • Reputable Brands: Established brands often have rigorous quality control and testing processes, ensuring that their switches meet or exceed safety standards.
  • Warranty and Support: Quality switches often come with extended warranties and better customer support, providing peace of mind and potential cost savings in the long run.

Related: 45a or 50a Shower Switch?

3. Regular Inspections

  • Spotting Early Signs: An electrician can identify early signs of wear, corrosion, or damage that might be invisible to the untrained eye. Addressing these issues early can prevent more significant problems down the line.
  • Updating Old Systems: Older homes might have outdated wiring or components that aren’t up to current standards. Regular inspections can highlight these areas, allowing for timely upgrades.
  • Safety First: Beyond just preventing burnouts, inspections ensure that your entire electrical system is safe, reducing the risk of electrical fires or other hazards.

4. Ensure Proper Ventilation

  • Heat Dissipation: All electrical components, including switches, generate heat during operation. Proper ventilation ensures this heat is dissipated effectively, preventing overheating.
  • Location Matters: If possible, avoid placing your shower switch inside confined spaces or cabinets. If it’s already in such a location, consider adding vents or relocating the switch.
  • Regular Cleaning: Ensure that the area around the switch remains free of dust and debris, as these can block ventilation and act as insulators, trapping heat.

5. Surge Protectors

  • Shielding from Spikes: Surge protectors are designed to detect and divert voltage spikes, protecting connected devices from potential damage.
  • Prolonged Lifespan: By shielding your shower switch from unexpected power surges, you can significantly extend its lifespan and maintain its efficiency.
  • Whole-House Solutions: While there are individual surge protectors that can be plugged into outlets, consider a whole-house surge protector. Installed at the main electrical panel, it protects all devices and appliances in your home from voltage spikes.


Preventing shower switch burnouts goes beyond just ensuring a functional shower; it’s about safeguarding your home and loved ones.

By taking these proactive measures and regularly consulting with professionals, you can enjoy peace of mind and a consistently warm shower.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use the shower if the switch has signs of burning or scorching?

No, it’s not safe. If the switch shows signs of burning, scorching, or any other damage, it poses a potential electrical hazard. It’s crucial to turn off the power, avoid using the shower, and consult a certified electrician immediately.

Can a faulty shower unit cause the switch to burn out?

Yes, a malfunctioning shower unit that draws more power than it’s designed for can overload the switch, leading to overheating and burnout. It’s essential to ensure both the shower unit and the switch are compatible in terms of power and amperage ratings.

How do power surges affect my shower switch?

Power surges can cause significant damage to electrical components, including shower switches. A surge sends a higher voltage than the switch is designed to handle, potentially damaging its internal components. Over time, or with a particularly strong surge, this can lead to the switch burning out or failing prematurely.

How often should I inspect my shower switch for potential issues?

It’s a good practice to inspect your shower switch at least once a year. However, if you notice any irregularities like those mentioned above, you should check it immediately. Regular inspections can help spot and address issues before they escalate, ensuring safety and longevity.