A single pole switch is your home’s most basic electrical device. Replacing one is something anyone can do, even those who have never worked with electricity before. Here’s what you’ll need for this project:
TOOLS & MATERIALS
- Needle-Nose Pliers
- Non-Contact Voltage Tester
- Flat-Head Screwdriver
- Phillips-Head Screwdriver
- Single-Pole Switch
- Electrical Tape
When taking on this DIY task be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety gear.
- Eye Protection
- Turn off circuit. Start by turning off the breaker that controls the switch you’ll be replacing.
- Remove switch cover. Back out the screws holding the switch cover in place and remove.
- Detach switch. Confirm the power is off by touching the voltage tester to each screw terminal, then remove the screws attaching the switch to the electrical box.
- Disconnect wires. Unless the wiring is very old, you’ll see three wires attached to the switch, including a bare wire connected to a green grounding screw. The other two wires are hot: one will be black, and the other may be black or white. If the hot wires are connected to the screw terminals, loosen the screws and disconnect them. If they’re inserted into holes in the back of the switch, insert a small flathead screwdriver into the slot below each hole to release them.
- Connect new switch. If the ends of the wires aren’t already bent into hooks, use needle nose pliers to create them. Hook the bare wire over the switch’s green grounding terminal, positioning the hook clockwise so it will pull against the screw as you tighten it. Attach remaining wires to the switch’s side terminals the same way. Wrap electrical tape around the sides of the switch to cover the terminals. For a smart switch, connect the white wires to the additional white wire provided using a wire nut. Connect the ground wire to the green connector on the switch. Identify your line and your load on the black wires and connect them to the appropriate line and load terminals on the switch. Finish by connecting the open end of the white wire into the neutral terminal on the switch.
- Install new switch. Confirm the “ON” designation is at the bottom of the switch lever so the switch will go on when you flip it up. Insert the switch’s installation screws into the electrical box and tighten until secure. Replace the switch cover and restore power to the circuit.
- Your installation is complete.