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How to Replace a Light Switch

Faulty switches are easy to fix; you just have to exercise caution.


  • : Working with electricity is very dangerous—be extremely careful and, if you have any doubts, contact a professional.
  • Step 1: Turn off power Cut the power to the light switch by flipping the circuit breaker or removing the fuse at the main panel. Tell everybody in the house that you have turned off the power intentionally or put a note on the breaker, so no one turns it back on while you’re working!
  • TIP: Make sure the power is off by flipping the light switch.
  • Step 2: Remove cover plate Unscrew and remove the light switch cover plate.
  • Step 3: Remove the switch Unscrew the screws that anchor the switch in the electrical box, and remove the switch. It should now only be attached by a few wires.
  • TIP: Use a circuit tester to make sure none of the wires going into the switch are live!
  • Step 4: Remove the wires Locate the screws or clamps holding the wires in place, then loosen and pull the wires free.
  • TIP: Note which wire came from which screw so you can correctly install the new switch. If your memory is bad, tag the wires with pieces of electrical tape or take a digital picture you can reference later.
  • Step 5: Install new switch Be sure the new switch is oriented correctly, with the 'on' and 'off' markers in the correct position. Attach the wires to the new switch by wrapping them around the screws or placing them into the clamps, and tightening them into place.
  • Step 6: Mount the new switch Put the switch back into the wall and replace and tighten the screws.
  • Step 7: Replace cover plate Replace and screw in the light switch cover plate.
  • Step 8: Restore power Restore power to your light switch and check that it’s working.
  • FACT: In most American homes, about 25% of the electricity used is for lighting.

You Will Need

  • A screwdriver
  • A new switch
  • A circuit tester
  • Electrical tape or digital camera

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