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How to Replace a Wall Switch

by Shopify API 05 May 2024 0 Comments

How to Replace a Wall Switch

Most rooms in your home have a wall switch, also called a light switch, that controls lighting fixtures or electrical outlets. The switch interrupts and allows electrical current to flow to the fixture by flipping a lever or rocker on the switch. You can also use a remote control to turn on and off the switch. To do this, a simple wall switch connects to the light fixture or outlet through wires in the wall and ceiling. You can replace a wall switch yourself by disconnecting the power at your home's breaker box and removing the old switch with its wiring attached. This can be easier if you choose a replacement that has the same number and color of screw terminals as your old switch.

Most of the time, wall switches are single-pole, single-throw (SPST). They can turn lights or outlet OFF and ON from one location only. You can identify this type of switch by the ON/OFF markings on the toggle lever.

The switch has two or three wires attached: an incoming hot wire, usually black, and the return wire that carries the load to and from the fixture. The third wire is a grounding wire, which can be green or bare copper. If the wire is white, it should have black or red tape wrapped near the switch terminal to indicate that it operates as a hot wire and not a neutral wire.

When preparing to install a new switch, you should always follow safety procedures by turning off power at your home's breaker box. Then, turn off the power at the breaker box to your room or area where you will be working. Remove the cover from your electrical box, and make sure there are no loose wires or signs of corrosion. Then, check the new switch's packaging to see what kind of conductor connections it has. Before you unscrew a terminal screw, loosen another and remove that wire from the terminal. This will keep you from splicing in the wrong wires or making other mistakes. When you are replacing a three-way switch, be more careful; compare the connectors on the old and new switches to avoid mistakes.

A modern switch may have no terminal screws but instead has small holes that are only slightly larger than the bare copper conductors. These holes have locking tabs that grip the conductors and prevent them from pulling out. To attach a new conductor to a switch, remove 1/2 inch of insulation from the end and twist a bare wire into each hole. You can also use a narrow-blade screwdriver to release the locking tabs on an old switch.

Most wall switches are designed to operate on 120-volt alternating current circuits, and they'll have a rating label that indicates something like "15A, 120V." The rating is important because it tells you that the switch will safely work with household wiring, which is alternating current. However, some manufacturers offer commercial-grade switches that can be used on direct-current wiring, too.

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