How Do I Change a Light Switch?

When you change a light switch there are several steps that need to be methodically followed to ensure it is done safely and correctly.

Here are the Steps Listed in Order to Change a Light Switch:
  1. Ask yourself if you really have the skill, knowledge and confidence to tackle a project that could result in death if you make a mistake. If the answer is a truthful ‘yes’ then proceed. If the answer is ‘anything but yes, including maybe, not sure, or a flat out no’ call a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
  2. Go to your electrical distribution panel and determine which fuse or breaker controls the electricity that flows to the light switch and remove the fuse or switch the breaker to off. Lock the door on the panel if available. If you can’t lock the panel in a safe position leave a competent person at the panel to make sure no one restores power to the circuit on which you are working.
  3. Remove the cover from the switch and using a CSA certified voltage tester confirm that the switch is electrically dead before going any further.
  4. If the switch is not electrically dead, you have removed the wrong fuse or switched off an incorrect breaker. You must determine the correct fuse or breaker now or switch off the main power to the house to make sure you are safe. Even though the main has been shut off you must still check for voltage before going any further.
  5. Once you are confident the switch is dead you may remove it by undoing the upper and lower mounting screws. Once the switch is free from its mounting box you should leave it hanging by the wires. Return the mounting screws to the mounting box and screw them in a few turns so they don’t get lost. Even though the new switch comes with new mounting screws you may need to use the originals as they may have been modified to suit that installation.
  6. With the switch out of the mounting box you can determine if it is a single pole switch, a three-way switch or a four-way switch. Once you have made that determination you can select the correct replacement switch from your stock or run to the hardware store to purchase one.
  7. With the new switch in hand transfer the wires one-by-one to it from the old unit. It is imperative that you do not mix up the wires.
  8. Install the new switch into the mounting box using the supplied screws or the ones retained from the old switch. You will need to make the determination as to what is appropriate.
  9. Restore the power and check that the new switch has voltage to it.
  10. Replace the switch cover and test for correct operation.

You may do this work without applying for an Electrical Safety Authority permit and inspection. HOWEVER, if you are replacing a switch with a dimmer rather than replacing like-for-like you must obtain a permit and inspection.

Finding yourself thinking the steps to change a light switch is not work the aggravation?

Call a Licensed Electrical contractor

Your electrician will assess the situation and let you know the fee for any of the requested upgrades. Keep in mind it is always better to have your Licensed Electrical Contractor do these projects in batches or bundles rather than piecemeal.

These fees are for budgeting purposes ONLY. Always obtain an accurate assessment and a firm quote before any repairs are undertaken.