Replacing a defective wall switch is a common request made of a  handyman. In most cases a wall switch will last for decades. However, they do sometimes fail. Before you call the handyman see if the following tip can save you some cash.

New switches can be the screw connect and slip connect combination type. It is recommended to use the screw connection to to connect the wires do to the possibility of the wires breaking when using the slip or stab connect portion of the switch.

Before taking on this repair be sure to understand and follow all safety precautions. The power should be turned off and checked with a circuit tester or volt meter to insure the circuit is dead.

Respect for electricity and it’s dangers  is always an important reminder, that said, this type of repair can safely be made in a few minutes.

(1) Remove the wall switch cover, the standard cover will have just the two screws.

(2)  Turn off the circuit breaker that controls power to the switch. Before attempting to remove the switch, test the circuit with a volt meter or circuit tester to confirm the power to the wires is actually off.

(3) Loosen the screws on the side of the switch with a flat blade screwdriver (turning counterclockwise) and remove the wires. If the switch has the wires inserted into the back, cut them as close as possible to the switch to leave plenty of wire to reconnect the new switch.

Discard the old switch

(4) Connect the white (neutral) wire to the silver screw.

(5) Connect the black (hot) wire to the brass screw.

(6) Connect the green or bare copper (ground) wire, if the present, to the green screw terminal on the switch or to the electrical box.

(7) At this point for safety I like to wrap the switch with electrical tape to protect against possible shorts after it is reinstalled.

(8) Fold the wires back into the electrical box and start the two attachment screws to mount the switch.

(9) Before fully tightening the screws insure that the switch location is square and true. If it looks good tighten it fully.

(10) Install the switch cover and your done.