Replacing Single-Pole Switches


If a switch fails to turn on or if its toggle feels loose, replace it. A single-pole switch is the most common type of switch. It has two terminals (not counting the ground), and its toggle is marked with ON and OFF. If three wires attach to a switch (not counting the ground), it's a three-way switch. Replace a single-pole switch with an exact match or install a dimmer or special switch.


About 20 minutes to replace a single-pole switch

Screwdriver, strippers, side cutters, long-nose pliers, voltage tester

Stripping wires and fastening them to a terminal

Lay a towel or small drop cloth on the surface below the switch

Step 1

Shut off power to the circuit so that the switch cannot turn the light on. Remove the cover plate. Unscrew and pull out the switch gently. Test to make sure there is no power in the box.

Step 2

Check the wires and terminals. If the wire ends are nicked, kinked, or deformed, cut and restrip. Otherwise loosen the terminal screws and disconnect the wires.

Step 3

Form loops with the wire ends, wrap clockwise around the terminals on the new switch, and tighten the screws. Wrap the device with electrician's tape to cover terminal screws and any bare wire. Reinstall the switch and cover plate.

Stripping Wires: Step 1

To make sure a wire doesn't break after being bent several times, cut off the bare end using a stripper or side cutters.

Stripping Wires: Step 2

Place the wire in the proper size hole on the strippers, give a slight twist, and slide the insulation off. Bend the wire into a loop.

Comments (1)
justine7177 wrote:

3 light switches in kitchen, on the same wall. but there are 3 wires coming from the ceiling and 3 from the floor, do i just use one from the top or bottom for 1 light switch

4/11/2013 02:08:55 AM Report Abuse
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