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2023-06-14 19:09:54

How To Change A Light Switch _ Beginners Guide

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Hey , what's up ?

You guys ?

It's Scott with everyday home repairs .

And today I want to talk about changing out a light switch .

Now , this is the most approachable electrical project around your house , but still very important that you have the knowledge , the tools and you can do this safely .

Now , if this is your own home in most jurisdictions , it's ok to do your electrical work .

But that might be something that you want to look into .

Call your local permitting office or your electrical inspector and say , hey , if this is my house , can I do things like changing our light switch , changing our receptacle in my area in Illinois ?

That is ok if it's your own house , we have a good example today because we have a two way switch here and a three way switch in the same electrical box .

So it give you a few different scenarios that hopefully match exactly what you're facing .

And my goal for this video is that you can assess your situation .

Go to the home improvement store , get all your supplies and make one trip , not a two trip and especially not a three trip project .

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So that's the goal and I'll talk about some of those things that hang you up and some of the don't , which we have here in the box .

And then last thing , if you want to kind of jump around , you can look down in the timeline of this video and you'll see it's actually broken up into segments .

Those are called chapters .

So you can jump around , you'll see the title of each segment and what is reviewed within there .

So you can get to the exact part that you need without further ado let's jump in and swap out this light switch .

So first things first , you want to make sure you have no power going through this electrical box .

So you need to either pull your fuse or hit your circuit breaker .

Now to confirm that we have no power , what I'm gonna use is what's called a noncontact voltage tester .

This one specifically is an N CV T three P .

I think it's a great diy non contact voltage tester uh because it has also a built-in light which helps you out when you're changing light switches because you're probably not gonna have light to that area .

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So you can look down in the description , you'll see this tool and the other tools I showed today including the light switches , we use all with links for your reference .

Now , when using a noncontact voltage tester , what you want to do is test on a known source that you know , is hot .

So you know the voltage tester is working and detects when there is power to electrical box .

Once you confirm , now , you can come back and check to see if you have power at these light switches and then that will give you the confirmation .

You need to proceed with the job .

Now , technically , you can do this whole job with a small flathead screwdriver , but you especially need one here at the start to remove all of your screws that mount the faceplate .

So again , to make this a one tripper for you to not add to your job .

What I do recommend is you take a razor blade and you score the outside at the interface between the wall and your face plate .

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What that's gonna do is it's gonna break loose any of the old paint that you might have between the face plate and the wall .

So when you take the face plate off , it's not going to tear the dry wall paper and make damage to your wall , making this a longer job .

So once that's done , then you can just pop off your face plate , right ?

So we confirm that our noncontact voltage tester works on a known hot outlet or switch face plate is off .

Now , you can test to see if you're picking up any power within the box that we're gonna work on .

So we're confirmed with no power .

I'll also check that once I kind of move the switches out just to double check .

I'm not missing anything inside .

I want to show you this is a two way switch and this is a three way switch .

I'm going to remove four screws again .

You could use a flathead .

A lot of people use a Phillips .

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Technically , the best screwdrivers for this are either a number one Robertson which has a square bit head that works great or I use the number one Milwaukee , which is a built in flathead and Robertson together .

So it gives you the best hold and easiest to use .

So this will give you a direct comparison between a two way and a three way switch .

So this is a two way switch .

That means there's only one switch on the circuit that will turn on or off the lights .

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And as such , you just have a hot from your line from your power coming in and then a load , this would be going out to your light switch , then you're neutral for the light is just passing through here within this wire nut and has nothing to do with the actual switch itself .

Now , with a three way , it's just a little more complex where you have your line coming in here and then the two travelers would go to the other switch on the circuit .

So this light circuit has two switches and either one can turn on or off .

And that's why you need the three way switch for it to work properly .

So you have the hot coming in and then you'll have your two traveler wires .

Usually those will be black and red , but every insult can be a little different .

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Now , before I show you how to swap out this two way , let's talk about what I don't like here one , I do not recommend what's called speed wiring .

That's where you strip 14 gauge wire .

Usually you can only fit 14 gauge and you just press it in and then a tab holds it in place and that is what connects to the terminal .

I'm not a big fan of that and I'm especially not a big fan of mixing side wiring with speed wiring .

And also we're missing one of our screws .

This does demonstrate what some people don't know is that if you use speed wiring , the screw itself is actually has nothing to do with holding it in because there's a tab internal that holds that wire in .

But what I'll end up doing is I'm going to do side wiring on both of these for the new switch .

Additionally , on this three way , this one also for the red traveler uses speed wiring .

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The screw is still intact , but I do recommend to tighten down that screw just so you don't have anything hanging out more than it needs to be that would raise the chances of a short possibly if something is in the box and close to this terminal So next up will be popping out this two way .

If you have a three way , just remember to pick up the correct hardware for a three way switch and then you will make sure that you mark your travelers compared to your hot line coming in .

So when you connect that back up with the new switch , everything is in the correct orientation .

OK ?

So since we're not going to do anything with this three way , I'm just going to reinstall that switch before swapping out the two way and showing you how to wire that up , which is pretty straightforward .

I want to make sure again that you take one trip to the Home Improvement store .

So let's talk about a few of the selections that you're gonna need to make to make sure you get the right parts first up .

Let's talk about color .

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So there are three main colors of switches and face plates .

You'll have white and you'll go to light almond and then almond .

So you can see the difference there between now when you have them side by side , it's pretty easy to see the white versus light almond versus almond .

But if you just had light almond , depending on your paint on your walls , this can look pretty white , especially if you don't have anything else to compare it to .

So it might be worth taking your old switch .

Maybe you already unsalted or your face plate down to the Home Improvement store to make sure you get the right color .

Now , we already talked about switches in terms of two way and three way which you'll want to know which one you need .

I'm just going with a standard residential grade Eaton two way switch .

Now you'll see that there are different levels .

You can kind of get up to the premium ranges .

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Honestly , with the switches , this is a dollar 88 down at Lowe's .

This is an eaten Eaton is a good brand .

I think Leviton is great .

Uh Pass and Seymour is good .

Also goes by the name LA depending on where you're going , you're going to see different brands .

All of those are actually good quality switches , but I would not go with anything other than the residential grade on light switches .

Now , I don't have the same feeling for receptacles or outlets , but on light switches , you're not gonna get too much more if you go to the commercial grade level .

And then finally , we've been looking at the switches with the large rectangular rocker switch .

These are called Deora series or Decorator series and that is a certain type .

It's a little more modern look , but everything we've shown thus far and will go over and install would be the same for a standard toggle switch , which is a little bit older looking design but is still widely used .

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So just make sure you're getting the correct one and also getting the correct face play because those will be a little bit different for Decor Series versus a standard light switch .

So hopefully that's enough information to make sure you get the right stuff from that aisle .

Because when you first go into electrical aisle at a large home improvement store , there are a lot of selections .

So you do need to kind of whittle down to where you're looking , you'll see the sections , you'll have a white section , you'll have a light almond section .

You have an all in section pretty much the same selections throughout each of those three sections .

But the white will have a little bit more selection because it's the most widely used .

Let me know if you guys have any questions as you approach these projects , jump down the comments and myself or others actually will jump in there and help you out .

So let's swap out this two way switch .

Now , since I have plenty of extra wire , I'm just going to start off fresh by cutting both of these wires .

Now , this is 12 gauge wire .

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But if you're not sure what you have , you can compare a nickel and dime .

If it's the thickness of a nickel , it's 12 gauge .

If it's the thickness of a dime , it is 14 gauge .

Now your switch will come with a stripping guide that gives you the length for which you should strip .

If you're using the cushions , I don't recommend that .

So you're actually gonna go about three quarters of an inch strip .

So we can use the side terminals and do side wiring .

Ok .

So then we want to make J hooks and what we use is a small hole in the side .

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We'll put the wire just barely through it and then we'll wrap it around the outside and then that will make our J hook for side wiring .

So we have a reference for top and then we want to go in the clockwise direction around the screw .

So why you'd want to do that is while you tighten this , if it is in the counter clockwise direction , it will kind of push the wire out as you're tightening the screw .

See how that kind of pulls that in .

As you're tightening it , then you'll do your second one the same way .

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And then if you had a bare copper wire for ground , you'd connect that here , same clockwise direction , but a switch does not have to have a ground and then we'll just tuck those wires back and then reinstall the switch .

And then as you tighten this in , just make sure that this front surface is flush with the wall and face plate .

If it's slightly angled , you can kind of use your screwdriver and angle that lightly in and what you're doing there , especially with 12 gauge wire , it will kind of push the switch left to right .

So you're just trying to get that centered up .

So I will not tighten both of these because first , I want to put the face plate up .

Once you have everything lined up , then you'll go ahead and tighten them down .

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So they're securely in place .

Then you'll take your face plate and just tighten the four screws .

I like the eaten plate , face plates because it really retains these small mounting screws , makes it an easier job .

Now , if you want a prof finish , you'll either line up your screws vertical or horizontal , but all consistently .

Now these are unbreakable face plates , but you won't wanna over tighten one .

It pulls the face plate in and makes it look bad .

And also depending on which one you got , you can't crack it .

So at the end of the job , if you over tighten , you crack your face plate and then you run into the home improvements or again , but that is it .

Now we're back in business .

So I now have the breaker back on and I can confirm that the light switch is working .

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So this project is complete .

Now for references for all the tools we use and also this light switch from Eaton that we use .

You can see that down in the description right below the video , you'll see all the links to the tools and the light switch swapping out .

A light switch is a great first project when it comes to getting into home electrical .

But any home electrical project you want to make sure you're doing that safe and you are comfortable with electrical .

If not , I do recommend calling in the professionals .

So let me know if you guys have any questions down in the comments , I'll jump in there and help you out as much as I can .

And also before you take off , if you haven't already subscribed to your channel , do that by hitting the red subscribe button and bell notification and then you'll get notified as we have multiple videos coming out per week to help you with repairs and improvements around your house and we'll catch you on the next one .

Take care .


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