A single step switch is a common upgrade for home lighting. It’s easier than wiring a 3-way switch and can be installed by most DIYers with the right tools and safety precautions. But wiring switches correctly is crucial – it can prevent fires and electric shocks, which could be fatal.
The first thing you should do before starting is turn off the circuit breaker controlling the light switch. This is critical because it will ensure that no power is running through the wires, which will prevent any problems during the installation process.
Next, inspect the switch box to find if there are any conjoined wires that run through it. These are likely feed wires for two lights or appliances, and you should separate them when you remove the old switch so that they can be attached to their own terminals later on.
If you find that there are any conjoined wires, you can easily separate them by removing the cover plate from the switch and using a pair of pliers to loosen the terminal screws on each side. If necessary, use a voltage detector to check for current while you work to avoid causing a short.
You should also check the wires for signs of damage, such as fraying or crimping. These may indicate that they are in need of replacement, so be sure to clip off any degraded areas with a multi-tool or wire cutters.
Once you’ve gotten all the wires separated, you can start to install the new switch. Make sure that none of the wires are touching anything, such as the metal switch box or walls, so that you don’t cause a short.
When you’re done with the installation, wrap electrical tape around the body and screw the switch back into place. This will keep it from contacting the sides of the box and getting hot, which could cause an electrical fire.
In some older boxes, there is a hot wire (red or black) that comes out of the wall and into one switch, then into the other. It’s often hooked up with a terminal on each switch, and it can be difficult to see the wire without a magnifying glass.
The hot wire should be labelled with a tab of black or red electrical tape, to indicate that it’s a hot wire. It’s important to do this, as the hot wire is what delivers power to the fixture when you push the switch on and off.
If there are other wires in the box that don’t have any labeling, they should be left alone – they’re usually neutral circuit wires that just pass through the box. You can add a tab to these as well during the installation, but this isn’t required.
STEP 6: Connect the wires to the new switch. Begin by connecting the black wires, which will be called the feed wires, to their terminals on the right side of the switch. These should be oriented in a clockwise direction. After that, attach the green wire, which is a ground wire, to the terminal on the left side.