Electrical Problem (Yes, You Can Replace Your Light Switches)

First, you will need several tools. I have listed some items to add to your arsenal.Replacing these devices is relatively easy. First you need a multiple tip screwdriver. The driver should have a rubber insulated handle. The insulation will prevent any shock hazard while disconnecting the toggles. Next, I would recommend a voltage tester. I utilize a stick tester. You must be warned, sometimes, stick testers show stray voltage. This method is not always foolproof. The only way to be sure there is no current present is to test the circuit with a voltmeter. Always test this unit somewhere else. This will ensure no mistakes. A pair of insulated linesman pliers along with a pair of insulated wire strippers will be needed. Also it may be handy to keep a pair of needle nose pliers. Always turn the feeder breaker off to these circuits. Do not risk electrocution! The most common current source of electrical shock deaths are in homes. These deaths stem from direct contact with single phase electricity.

Next we will address the replacement switches and miscellaneous parts you will need. The replacement of these parts will require UL rated items. They will have to match the wire size currently installed in your house. If you have twelve gauge wire currently, the code requires a twenty amp device to serve the system. If you are not sure of the wire size, check it with the marked slots on your insulated wire strippers. In newer homes the non-metallic sheathed electrical cable will be either white colored. This represents fourteen gauge wire. This would need a fifteen amp switch. It may be colored yellow. This represents twelve gauge wire. Sometimes, you may uncover an orange wire. This is a ten gauge wire. It is very stiff. The ten gauge would be very difficult to use. It is good for a thirty amp circuit. You will also need wire nuts, new screws, and possibly a wire clip to attach the ground wire to the box. If you have metal boxes always use a green screw to land your grounding electrode.

Replacement of your items isn’t too terribly difficult. The main concern is to complete on junction box at a time. The problem with the connections in the older homes falls back on the quality of the switches used originally. Also, a large majority of the Electricians installing the parts utilize the hole’s on the rear of the piece. Over the years, the use of the components cause the spring to release. So when I install these. I strip the wires to the desired length. Accompany the existing circuit with a third wire. This is called a pig’s tail. It allows the original wire to remain the current length. Then wrap the pig’s tail around the perspective screw. A single-pole has three screws. Two are brass. The third is green. The brass screws connect to the hot wire and the switch leg. It doesn’t matter which you use. Just make sure your on position is directed at the ceiling. You will find one that has four screws. This is a three-way switch. It should correspond with another device. This one will be located at the other end of the hall or room. This switch will have two brass screws. The traveler wires will connect to these two. The Black screw will connect to the hot wire. The ground should be either green or bare copper. Connect this one to the green screw on the switch. Three way switches are famous for confusing the installer. Sometimes, one might have to switch the travelers on one switch to return it to proper service.

Safety concerns in the replacement are simple. Do not work on live circuits. Always, twist your wires together in a sufficient manner. The connection should stand by itself. After you inspect this aspect, completely twist down you insulated wire cap. It should take some effort to tighten towards the end. Always keep the ground bare copper wire away from the brass or black screws. This will cause a dead short. If the breaker trips immediately after energizing, this could be the cause. Also, be careful not to connect a neutral wire to the switch. Otherwise this is an easy project.