How to Replace a Light Switch

In our last blog, we discussed how to replace an electrical outlet. The need to replace a light switch is less common, but the process is very similar. Here are tips on how to replace a single pole light switch that controls only 1 light from one location. Just as before, we always suggest never taking on an electrical project unless you are completely confident in your abilities.

We recommend having the following tools available before starting:

  • Replacement light switch, of course
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire Stripper
  • Needlenose pliers.
  • Voltage detector, not required but suggested.

First, turn off your power to the light switch at the breaker box. Then double check that the existing light switch is not getting any power. It is extremely important when working with electricity, to always put safety first.

Take off the faceplate and then remove the screws that fasten the switch to the wall. Gently pull the switch out from the wall and take a look at the wires connected to it.

The wires should be connected to the older switch either by looping around the terminal screws or through holes in the back. Before unhooking those wires, take notes or even a photo to remind yourself about the original setup. Once you’ve done that, unhook the wires and remove.

The red or black wire attaches either to the brass screw or connects through the hole on the same side as the brass screw. The white wire connects to the silver screw or through the hole on that side. If the ground is attached to the switch (and not the box itself) unscrew that as well.

Now it’s time to install your new light switch. Attach the live (black or red) wire to the brass screw (or through the hole on that side) first. Next attach the neutral white wire, and finally the ground (if it is not already attached to the box.)

Take a moment to look over your work. If the wires are firmly attached to the correct screws/openings, carefully push the switch back into the wall and secure. Reattach the face plate.

Turn the breaker back on and restore power to the light switch. We hope you have successfully replaced your switch and light has been restored to your room.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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