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A Cautious and Safe Approach in Changing a Light Switch

Light switches are with us for years. When they don’t act the way they used to, you know there’s something wrong. If you feel heat when you touch the light switch, hear unusual sounds or there’s light delay, it’s a sign that it’s time to replace and repair your switches to prevent any potential harm.

Light switches are an electronic device used to interrupt the flow of electrons. The working principle of the switch depends on its ON/OFF mechanism. When this doesn’t work, then you probably have to purchase another switch and replace it.

Some homeowners choose to replace or upgrade a light switch for functional or for aesthetic reasons. Changing the light switch is a simple task just as long as you understand its functions and wires. 

However, always remember that a simple DIY task doesn’t guarantee a safe and cautious approach in working with the light switch. It may still cause a safety hazard when you are not being careful. You must always consider specific rules in wiring a light switch. As a result, here are the steps that you might follow in changing a light switch to ensure a hazard-free home.

Safety First: Shut Off Power

Before working with electricity, it is always necessary to take safety precautions. First and foremost, consider wearing insulated rubber gloves while working with wires, and never work with wet hands.

After checking, you can now start the process by turning off the electrical power to your entire house. To do so, you have to locate the main electrical panel to switch off the main circuit breaker or you can just flip a single circuit breaker that has electricity access to a specific room where you will be working.

If you want to locate the right circuit breaker, putting labels to your breaker will help make the process faster and easier. But if you are unsure about which branch of circuit to switch off, just shut off right away the main breaker. Furthermore, to check if the wires and switches have no electricity, use a non-contact voltage tester before touching anything to test for an electric current. 

Remove Switchplate and Old Switch

When you already turn the power off to the main service panel, use the flathead screwdriver to remove the switch cover from its wires. Also, use the phillips head screwdriver to remove the existing switch from the box. 

Before removing the old switch, pay attention to the colours of the cable and where it was connected to the old switch because you will be repeating its placement on the new switch.  Using a phillips head screwdriver, remove the screws at the side of the switch holding the electrical wires, then detach the wires from the switch itself. 

If the wires in the back of the switch are pushed into terminal holes, push a very small flat-bladed screwdriver into the slot next to the connection holes for the wires to escape. Keep the wires apart from each other by bending them to opposite corners. If the switch is grounded, eliminate the grounding cable last.

Install the New Light Switch

When mounting a light switch, always take note of the three wires: one black, one white, and a separate ground wire which can be bare copper or sometimes green. Also, check the quality of the wires if there are any cables that are weakened. If there is, trim the end of the wire and restrip to be useful.

Identify the three separate colored wires and connect to the wires the new light switch in the same manner that they were connected to the old switch. If your cables are solid copper, make a loop with the pliers at the end of the wire and direct it around the switch side screw. 

Tighten the screw to ensure that the wire is secured beneath the screw and does not splay to the screw perimeter. If your wall wire consists of a set of smaller wires, use the pliers to gently tangle together the wire ends to make them as one.

Reinstall Plate

When the wires are connected, you can gently fold any excess wire and compact the light switch into the electrical box. Move gradually to ensure the wires don’t detach or break if you have to push the switch into place. 

To attach the switch to the box, tighten the screws and fit the switch plate. You can use a few tiny screwdriver twists to tighten or loosen the switch in the box. Lastly, turn the breaker or fuse back on once the cover is in place, and test your handiwork.

Conclusion

Whenever light switches give you a sign that it’s due for a replacement, changing a light switch can be easy. As long as you know the specific rules of wirings and the steps on how to change a light switch, you can change it on your own, but it doesn’t guarantee you a full rate of safety. However, if you’re uncertain of replacing your light switch, take no risks and seek help to expert electricians.

Sydney Eastern Suburb Electrician is here to help you with your light switch installation and emergency electrical repairs. With our level 2 electricians’ expertise, you can guarantee a rapid response towards your electrical emergencies and a service of quality workmanship.

Call us at (02) 8378 2827 to get a free quote today.

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