Home Repair: Changing A Light Switch

Learn how to install a light switch in these easy steps!

We have all been there, we enter a room, turn on a light switch and watch as the light flickers, or lighting for a few seconds and then the light disappears. We run for a light bulb and change it to discover it wasn't the light bulb after all.

It is time to change your light switch. Light switches wear out in time from age and overuse or when the wires inside become brittle from the heat. If the light switch that is faulty was installed along with the others in your house around the same time, you might want to consider replacing all of them at the same time.

There are three types of light switches. A single pole, three-way and four way switch.



A single pole switch allows the lighting fixture in one room to be turned on and off. The three way switches allow for lighting to be turned on in 2 locations, while the four way switch turns on lighting in three locations or more. Make sure you know what type light switch you will need before purchasing. The common light switch is the single pole switch. If not sure, remove the old one, placing tape or cardboard over the opening as a cautionary measure. Take the old light switch with you to the home improvement store and ask the salesman for help in distinguishing what type you have.

You will need the following tools to install a new light switch:

1) A voltage tester

2) A screwdriver

4) Piece of paper and pen to mark down the colors and location of original wires.

Why? It is easier than having to remember in your mind where everything goes when it comes time to assembling the new light switch.

Turn off power at your main electrical panel. This is where the service can be shut on and off in case of emergencies. You can find your electrical panel installed in your home in the hall or garage and inside bedroom closets. These are some places where you can usually find the electrical panel. You will need the electricity cut off to that circuit in the house for which you are installing a new light switch. Never replace a light switch with the electricity still on. Serious electrical shock can occur. Remove the cover plate to the light switch with a screwdriver.

Be sure and place the screws and cover in a box so they won't get lost until needed again.

Using the voltage tester, making sure it is accurate before hand; test the light switch to make sure the electricity is off to that light switch. Then taking your screwdriver, remove the screws that hold the light switch in the wall box. Now remove the wires, writing down their sequence of order.

Install the new switch, inserting the wires into the same holes as in the old switch. Connect the ground wire if present to the green terminal. Place all the wires and switch back into the wall box, mounting the switch. Now turn on the service at the main electrical panel and test the switch before replacing the wall light switch cover.

Now you can tell everyone you did it yourself!

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