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Home Sweet Solutions

Ugly light switch?

How to change a light switch and update a switch plate for an inexpensive upgrade.

Over time, light switches can break or become outdated or worn. Replacing the switch and adding a new decorative faceplate yourself is a simple, low-cost way to upgrade your decor. Wiring a light switch is easy, and you can save lots of money by doing it yourself. Here are simple steps on how to install a single-pole light switch.

Flathead screwdriver
Phillips screwdriver
Cutting pliers (optional)
Light switch
Decorative faceplate (optional)
Long-nose pliers
Wire stripper (optional)
Single-pole light switch


1. Turn off the power.
Locate the electrical panel in your home, and turn off the power at the appropriate circuit to avoid electrocution. Then return to the switch and test it to be sure it has been turned off.

Remove the faceplate and switch.


Using the flathead screwdriver, remove the two screws securing the faceplate to the wall, and remove the faceplate. Using the Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws holding the switch to the junction or electrical box.

Remove the wires from the old switch.


Locate the three wires attached to the switch. The grounding wire is generally the unsheathed copper wire attached to the green screw. The hot wires are covered with black or white sheathes and attached to the screws on the back of the switch. Use the appropriate screwdriver to remove all the wires by loosening the screws. Alternatively, you can use cutting pliers to cut the wires from the switch near the connection points.

Attach the wires to the new switch.


Using long-nose pliers, bend the exposed copper grounding wire around the green screw on the new switch, and screw it tightly back into place. Then bend the exposed portion of the hot wires around the two corresponding screws on the back of the switch, and screw them back into place.



But if you’ve cut the wires, use the wire stripper to remove about 1/2-inch of the black casing at the ends of the two hot wires, and insert the wires into the rectangular holes adjacent to the two screws for quicker assembly. Push the switch back into place over the existing electrical box, and screw into place.


5.Add the new switch plate.


Position the new or existing faceplate over the switch, and screw into place.

6. Test the new switch.
Turn the power back on, and test the switch.



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Panama City Beach, FL
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