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Are old push-button light switches safe? Should old light switches be replaced? When did push button light switches stop being used?

Are old push-button light switches safe

Are old push-button light switches safe

Have you ever been to your grandparent’s house and felt like you stepped into a time machine? All those lovely antique items you’re not allowed to touch, the rickety rocking chair that no one is brave enough to sit on, and the old push-button light switches you’re not convinced are entirely safe for use? 

At what point are you supposed to upgrade these things? 

Sure, antique furniture and old ornaments are safe enough…but when it comes to electrics, it’s a different story entirely…

Whether you are worried about your dear old grandad having the shock of his life the next time he turns the hallway light on in his home, or you’ve just moved into an old property but wish to keep the classic aesthetic very much alive, this is the article for you. We’re going to dial our focus in on old push-button light switches. 

Are old push-button light switches safe for use? Should you have replaced your old light switches by now? And when did the masses stop using the old push-button light switches, domestically? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know…

Are old push-button light switches safe?

Are old push-button light switches safe?

So, are old push-button light switches safe? This all depends on when they were last checked and updated by a certified electrician.

For example, it is possible to have antique-looking push-button light switches that are up to modern code. The question is, are yours? 

If not, those old light switches were made with materials that will probably have become cracked and corroded over time. The fact that they’re likely over 100 years old means that their design doesn’t meet today’s very strict (and rightly so) electrical safety standards. 

Modern light switches are designed to be completely safe for use. 

If you aren’t fussed about their aesthetic appearance, then you should almost certainly have your old push-button light switches replaced and updated immediately. 

However, if you do love the look and don’t want to spoil the antiquated charm of your property, then you’ll be pleased to learn that you can have them updated and made safe, without losing the classic look/functionality. 

There are a number of speciality retailers who can emulate the two-button appearance and the satisfying snap sound for which old-school push-button light switches are fondly remembered. 

Either way, old push-button light switches that have not been updated and signed off by a certified electrician are not safe. 

Should old light switches be replaced?

Should old light switches be replaced

When you move into an older home because you fell in love with the antiquated nature of the property, the last thing you want to do is gut it entirely and have it lose its unique fingerprint. However, when it comes to old push-button light switches and other fixtures, unfortunately, they will need to be replaced. 

Again, the older switches have very old materials that have been subject to wear and tear over the years. If you want to ensure that your family is perfectly safe, you’ll need to have your electrics updated. 

You can replace them while keeping the old-school aesthetic with a different type of push-button switch. But you will need to find a specialist retailer for it. 

When did push button light switches stop being used?

Light switches are the exemplification of familiar design. In other words, they’re so familiar and regularly used that we never question their design, appearance, or functionality. So much so in fact, that we haven’t given light switches much attention for the best part of a century! 

The toggle light switch that we’re all so familiar with in modern homes today was first patented back in 1917, replacing the old-school push-button switch of the late 19th century.  

Since the more recent ‘toggle’ switch’s inception, it was widely used throughout the world until the 1980s, when a ‘rocker’ flat-panelled switch become more popular in domestic properties. That said, it was really just a facelift from the older design, not so dissimilar to the shift from push-button to toggle. 

Either way, the light switch hasn’t really changed all that much save for aesthetics – and indeed electrical safety standards. 

How often should light switches be replaced? 

How often should light switches be replaced

Another common question is how often light switches should be replaced? Of course, if you have old push-button switches in your home that haven’t been touched since their first installation (which could be almost 100 years ago), they’ll need replacing immediately.

However, as for most modern switches, there isn’t really a recommended “time frame” for replacing them. 

Ultimately, a light switch only needs replacing if the parts start to fail or if the wiring is clearly faulty and thus dangerous for use. 

In any case, most common light switches should last for at least 20 years without any problems. 

Final thoughts 

To recap:

  • Old push-buttons are not safe unless they have been replaced with modern switches provided by specialist retailers to emulate the classic design / signed off by certified electricians. 
  • Old push-button switches should be replaced and updated as soon as possible. 
  • The classic push-button switch was replaced domestically in 1917 when the new toggle switch model was patented. 
  • Most modern switches require replacing at least every 20 years or so. 

Again, there’s no “set rule” for these things. If you are unsure you should always call a certified electrician to come to your property to run some tests and ensure that your light switches and fixtures are perfectly safe. 

We understand the desire to maintain a property’s antiquated fingerprint and identity, but at the expense of your health and safety? Always remain vigilant!

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