If you have a broken light switch, or even if you just want to replace your old one with a newer one that looks better, you don’t have to call an electrician. We’ll show you how to replace a light switch. These directions can be followed for switches that control multiple lights as well. Just repeat steps 3 through 6 for each switch.
How to Replace a Light Switch
What you’ll need:
- Your new light switch
- Circuit tester
- Flat head screwdriver
- Phillips head screw driver
- Electrical pliers (needle nose pliers will work, too)
Step 1. Turn the power off to the room.
If you don’t know which breaker turns off which room, then it might be better to start by mapping your circuit breaker. Check out our blog that shows you how to map your circuit breaker panel if you don’t know how.
Step 2. Remove the light switch cover panel screws.
There should be one at the top and one at the bottom. These are most often flat head screws, but not always.
Step 3. Test all the wires with a circuit tester before touching anything inside the switch with your hand.
This will confirm that the power is off. Better safe than sorry. If your tester lights up or beeps, go back and find the right breaker to turn off. Once you get no sound or lights when you test any of the wires, you can go on to step 4.
Step 4. Remove the screws holding the light switch to the wall.
Step 5. Pull the light switch out a bit and unscrew the screws that hold the wires on the switch. There should be three wires, but older homes may have two. The screws holding each wire won’t come out completely, so stop unscrewing them if you meet any resistance.
Take this opportunity to clean up the wire ends if there’s any corrosion on them. You can do this with a wire brush.
Step 6. Hook the wires up to the screws on your new light switch.
Make sure each wire end curls around its screw in a clockwise direction. This will cause the screw to tighten down the connection even more.
Step 7. Screw the switch back into the wall and reinstall the cover plate.
Step 8. Turn the power back on and test the switch.
And that’s all there is. Now that you know how to replace a light switch, you can tackle your next remodeling project with confidence.
Of course, if you’re not comfortable replacing your light switch, always call a professional electrician.