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Upgrade Your Switches


Have you found yourself staring at a freshly painted walls and wondering what was wrong? You turn around the room and there it is. Almond covered switches suddenly noticeable everywhere.

Taking the time to upgrade your light switches provides an immediate clean and modern look to every room in your house. Nowadays, switches that have no noticeable screws. The good news is that changing out an outlet or light switch only takes 2-3 minutes each.

Changing a Light Switch

To replace this kind of switch, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the power to the switch at the main circuit breaker or fuse panel.

  2. Unscrew and remove the switch plate; then use a voltage tester to make sure that the circuit is dead.

  3. Unscrew the switch from the electrical box and pull it out with the wires still attached. Two or three wires will be attached to the switch: an incoming hot wire, which is black; a return wire, which carries the load to the fixture and may be black, red, or any other color except green; and sometimes a grounding wire, which is green or bare copper. There may be other wires in the box, but you are only dealing with the ones connected directly to the switch. You may find a white wire that has black tape on it connected to the switch. This tape indicates that the white wire is being used as a black or colored wire in the switch leg, so it’s not neutral.

  4. Compare your new switch with the one you’re replacing to find the corresponding locations for the electrical screw connectors. Because the power is off, you can match up the connectors the easy way: Instead of disconnecting all the wires at once and possibly getting confused, unscrew and connect one wire at a time.

  5. Attach the first wire you unscrew to the same-colored screw on the new switch as it was on the old; do the same with the second. To connect a wire to a terminal, strip off about 1/2 inch of insulation, using a wire stripper, and twist the end into a clockwise loop with long-nose pliers. The loop must wrap at least two-thirds but no more than three-quarters of the way around the terminal screw. Hook the wire clockwise around the screw so when you tighten the screw with a screwdriver, the clockwise force of the tightening screw makes the loop wrap tighter around the screw.

  6. Gently push the new, wired switch back into the electrical box and screw it in place.

  7. Screw on the switch plate and turn on the power.

Next up, let's replace those outlets!

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