How to Change a Light Switch – Your Step by Step Guide

Light switches control the power to specific light fixtures and are the easiest and usually the only way to turn your lights on. In this post, we will walk you through how to change a light switch whether it is because it is defective or just needs replaced for a miscellaneous reason. First, look below for the needed tools:

• Neon Circuit Tester
• New Switch
• Screw Driver (Most Likely a Philips)

Now let’s get to the steps of changing a light switch:
First you need to turn the power off going to the circuit that is feeding the switch. There are two ways to do this depending on how updated your home is. Either go to your electrical box or service panel and turn off the circuit to that light switch (newer homes) or remove the fuse that is powering that light switch (older homes). To make sure you have turned the power off, test it by flipping the light switch you are changing to make sure it is not working.

Next you need to remove the screws that are holding the switch cover plate in place. After the plate is off you need to remove the two screws that are holding the old switch to the switch box. Once this is done, simply pull the old switch out of the wall without cracking the old wiring. After you have pulled the switch out of the wall take a look at the wiring to make sure none of it needs replaced.

After you have done this you need to make sure the switch box is pulled out enough in order to reach the black wires that are attached to the old switch in the back. Black wires or “hot” wires always connect to switches. Sometimes you will see a white wire with black tape wrapped around it denoting it as this black or “hot” wire. If you found the switch was connected to a white or “neutral” wire, then the electrician or person who installed the light switch did not do it correctly. If this is the case, mark this wire with black tape to avoid confusion next time the switch box is pulled out. Disconnect the old switch box by simply disconnecting the two black wires that connect to it in the back. Do not do anything to the existing white or “neutral” wires or to the green (sometimes copper) or “ground” wires.

Now it is time to install the new switch. Grab the new switch and simply connect the two black wires to the brass terminals on the new switch. There should be two of them. Once you have done this you need to push the new switch into the switch box. Replace the two screws you took out earlier which should go on the top and bottom of the switch.
Once the switch is secure with the screws you can now put the new or old switch plate back on. This should also be secured with two screws.

When finished, be sure to turn the circuit back on or put the fuse back in. I hope this step by step guide helped you out when replacing your old light switch.