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How To Replace an Light Switch

When an old light switch will no longer work or becomes damaged, it should be replaced. Replacement is usually very easy and should require only 5 to 10 minutes. Always replace a switch with one of the same type and rating.

Caution: Please read our safety information before attempting any testing or repairs.

Electrical work requires safe practices. Always turn off power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Post a note that work is being done, to avoid someone turning the power back on. After turning off the power to the circuit, test the circuit to be certain that there is no power. Always use insulated tools for added safety. Check with your local building department for regulations and permit requirements before beginning work.

  1. Turn off the power. Test circuit for power.
  2. Remove the cover plate.
  3. Remove the retaining screws at the top and bottom of the switch.
  4. Pull the switch straight out from the box.
  5. Note the position of the wires and transfer them over to the corresponding terminals on the new switch.
    • We recommend using the terminals instead of the slip connectors found on the back of some switches.
    • If the wire is stranded, twist the strands together.
    • Create a "U" shaped loop of bare wire about 3/4" long.
    • The screw tightens in the clockwise direction. Hook the loop under the terminal screw so that tightening the screw pulls the wire tightly under it, rather than pushing it out.
  6. Wrap electrical tape around the switch so that the exposed terminal screws are covered. This is a safety precaution to reduce the risk of shorts, arcing and shocks.
  7. Gently fold the wires into the box as you push in the switch.
  8. Secure the switch at the top and bottom with the retaining screws.
  9. Replace the cover plate.
  10. Turn on the power.
  11. Test the switch.

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