Replacing a Light Switch

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 11, 2020)

Being able to do your own basic home electrical repairs can save you a lot of money, so instead of calling in a professional electrician to replace a damaged light switch, why not do it yourself? Replacing a light switch is probably one of the easiest electrical jobs that anyone can do, and is a great way to introduce the whole idea of home electrical repair.

To begin, you are going to need to gather together a few basic items, all of which you either already have, or can purchase at any home improvement store. You are going to need masking tape, Sharpie marking pens, screw drivers and a new set of switches. Since you may be dealing with more than one type of screw, you are probably going to want to have a complete set of screwdrivers on hand. Once you have gathered these items together you are ready to begin. Again, before you begin, be aware that working with electricity is dangerous, and as such should be treated with respect and care.

  1. When you begin, you need to turn off the power using the main circuit breaker for the area that you are going to be working on. This is going to ensure that there is no electrical power running through the area that you are working on, and to keep it as such, make sure that you clearly mark the circuit breaker as being out of order, being worked on or some such so that no one comes along and turns it back on.
  2. After you have turned off the power, go to switch and remove the cover plate using the appropriate screwdriver. These cover plates are typically made of plastic, but some are metal so you should use caution.
  3. Once you have removed the cover plate, remove the mounting box. This mounting box is the small electrical box that the switch is placed in. Do this by removing the two screws that are holding the box in place. Now you need to carefully remove the switch from the wall, it should come out enough to expose the wiring.
  4. Look in at the wiring, and you should see two screws that are holding the wires to the switch. Clearly tag or mark each wire so that you know which screw they came from. I would suggest using colored sharpies and masking tape, since the wires are usually color coded so that should help. Now remove the wires from the screws.
  5. Take your replacement switch and hold it right-side up (you are going to know by the way that the word "off" appears when in the off position). Then begin to reattach everything using the reverse process of how we took it all apart.
  6. After you have replaced the switch cover you are ready to test your work. Turn the power back on, and try turning on your light. You should know immediately if everything was done properly.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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