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A few days ago my wife mentioned that there was a "burning smell" near the kitchen, but it went away before I could investigate. Today I turned on the dimmer switch in my kitchen, and the lights began flickering. I turned off the switch, but not before a smell had started coming from the dimmer switch (pictured below). We've used the lights in my kitchen a bunch of times since my wife first had the issue, so it isn't consistent.

Is it likely the problem is faulty wiring or could the dimmer unit simply be going bad? I'd like to know my options before I replace it or pay for an electrician.

Dimmer switch

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

If wires spark enough to generate a burning smell, you'll hear the arc and it's also possible the breaker would go as well.

From the symptoms you describe it sounds like the dimmer itself is going. Since it has a burning smell, I would say it's unsafe to use and you should replace it immediately.

Of course, if you see any nicked wires, or any of the wire nuts are loose then you should fix those problems. Be sure to turn off the power at the panel when you're doing this (you should check with a non-contact voltage detector just to be safe).

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Replaced the dimmer a few minutes ago, and so far no problems. Thanks! –  Matt Beckman Sep 21 '11 at 21:14
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