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How to replace a light switch

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In order to stay safe, light switches need to be kept in good working order at all times. If your switch feels unusually hot, rattles or displays any other impairment it is advisable to replace it immediately. This guide explains how to safely change your light switch.
What you'll need: 
A replacement switch of the same type (single-pole or two-way)
Appropriate screwdrivers
As with any household electrical work, your first step is to turn off the electricity supply at the mains switch.
The replacement switch should be of the same type as the original. If the light can be operated by just one switch, this will be a single-pole switch. If the light has two switches (for example, an upstairs and downstairs hall light switch)then you are looking at a two-way switch.
Unscrew the front panel of the switch and remove it. You will see a number of wires (usually three) entering the switch base (pattress) and screwed into terminals. Carefully study which wires service which terminals and how they are arranged in the pattress. I recommend drawing a coloured illustration if you have a poor memory.
Gently unscrew the pattress from the wall.
Using a small screwdriver, carefully loosen the terminal screws enough so that you can remove the wires.
When all of the wires are free, gently pull the pattress away from the wall and pull the cable back through its entry point.
Pull the cable gently through the entry point of your new switch and connect the correct wires to the correct terminals, ensuring the screws are tightly holding all of the strands of wire. If you need extra length you should be able to carefully pull the wire through its cable. Take care to arrange the wires so that they will be unable to touch one another once the switch is secured.
Slide the pattress back against the wall and screw it on.
Re-attach the front plate and fasten screws.
You can now turn the mains switch back on and check your new switch works.
This procedure can be modified slightly if you have a light switch that is flush to the wall (flush-mounted). In such a case you will have a mounting box which sits within a wall cavity, rather than a pattress.
If you're feeling confident, why not consider replacing a pattress with a flush-mounted switch. You will need a hammer, chisel and drill to make a cavity.
ALWAYS turn your electricity supply off at the mains before working on light switches.


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