Using an AFM-based test setup, experiments were performed on Ru microcontacts under a variety of leading and trailing edge hot switching conditions, including different voltages, different currents, different polarities (including bipolar and ac up to 20 MHz), and different approach and separation rates. It was found that hot switching damage is a complex phenomenon for microcontacts. It consists of a number of different mechanisms occurring simultaneously to different degrees depending on the hot switching conditions. It was determined through a combination of experiments and models that the mechanisms leading to contact erosion operate when the electrodes are separated by less than a few Å or are barely touching. For leading edge hot switching, i.e. hot switching when the contacts are closing, the main damage mechanism was found to be associated with currents less than 0.15 mA. Pre-contact currents were observed on uncleaned contacts and were not found to contribute to contact damage. Despite the damage caused by hot switching, it was found that unless the contact material is almost or completely eroded, hot switching does not lead to high contact resistance or high adhesion on Ru contacts. Under bipolar hot switching conditions, microcontacts with a 400 μN contact force maintained a contact resistance of less than 1 Ω and a pull-off force less than 60 μN for more than 100 million cycles.