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Do I Need an Electrician to Change a Light Switch?

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When it comes to anything electrical, most people often opt to have a professional come in and do all of the work for a set price. While this is safe and effective, it may not be entirely necessary for every electrical task needing to be done. Sometimes an electrician is a great choice, but can changing a light switch be done without hiring one? Here are some answers to find out!

Safety Always Comes First

If safety is any concern for someone attempting to change an electrical light switch, then a professional should be hired without question. No one should ever attempt to do such a task without being comfortable with their safety. However, National Electrical & Communication Association Victoria Chapter, who can help you find an electrician in Melbourne, states that changing a light switch is fairly simple and can be done safely if all proper safety measures are taken.

Here are some safety tips to ensure a smooth and safe task:

  • Make sure that the power to the light switch is turned off. If the person completing the task is not sure if the switch’s power is on or off, then cutting off the main breaker will do the trick if the light switch is located inside the home. The main breaker switch is generally located at the top of the breaker box inside and will be the largest breaker.
  • Sometimes the switch’s power can be turned off by using one switch in the panel. The main breaker can override this though. Test the switch to see of the power is off completely.
  • Purchase a tester. Testers can be bought at any local hardware store most of the time. They can be used to test and see if any power is running to the switch.
  • Once the power is off, another important step in safety is making sure none of the wires have been crossed. Wires will need to be connected to the proper ones. They are usually color coded which makes the job simple.
  • Connect the ground wire. Finally, the ground wire will need to be connected properly.

If all of the safety steps taken above can be done with confidence, then the changing of the light switch should be able to be done with little to no problems at all.

More information on electrical safety tips can be found at Platinum Electricians. 

The Tools Needed

There will be some tools needed to change a light switch. Most of the tools needed will most likely already be in most homes. This is because the tools needed for a light switch replacement are ones that are often used for other tasks around a home.

Here is a list of the tools needed when replacing a light switch without an electrician:

  • Needle nose pliers: These are used to wrap the wires around the bolts. It can be done without this tool, but the job is much easier with needle nose pliers.
  • Tester: This is the same tester listed above. They are also called voltage testers depending on the area and person discussing the tool, but the actual name of the tool is called a multimeter and they are fairly inexpensive and great to have on hand.
  • A Philips head screwdriver or a flat head screwdriver, depending on the face plate of the light switch.

Make Sure to Buy the Right Switch

It is important that the proper light switch is bought. There are several different kinds of switches on the market today. Sometimes it can be helpful to remove the old switch and bring it to the store when purchasing a new switch to ensure a proper fit. It is important to note which wires were plugged in where and how they connect to the new switch.

For more information on how to change a light switch, this YouTube video offers some additional information.

Does an Electrician Need to Be Called?

For the most part, electricians do not need to be called when installing a new light switch. This is done by people who are not electricians all the time. However, there are cases when electricians will need to be called.

When to Call an Electrician

Sometimes an electrician will need to be called. For example, if the light switch has been showing signs of catching fire, then an electrician will need to be called. A sign of this would be black marks on the switch or around the area. Another time an electrician would need to be called is if the breaker keeps flipping or the switch is not working after replacement.

While replacement is fairly simple, sometimes things will not go as planned and professionals will need to be called.

More information on when to call a professional can be found at Angie’s List.

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