• Replacing a Light Switch or Plug Outlet


    With age, light switches and plugs can stop working or get broken and need to be replaced.
    You might want to replace them for decorative purposes  with those of a different color or style.
    Now, All two-prong plugs should be replaced with grounded, three-prong plugs for safety purposes and to bring the home up to current building codes.
    This house repair guide provides reliable information you can use to determine if this is a job you want to do on you own or if you’d be better served calling an electrician.
    The job requires basic DIY skills, but does involve electricity, so that’s always a major concern.
    An electrician will be able to replace a single outlet or plug in 10 to 30 minutes depending on the complexity of the job.

    Light Switch and Plug Outlet Replacement Tips

    Our purpose here is to outline the scope of the project for you, so you can make the determination whether to do it yourself or to hire a contractor for the job.
    The next section outlines what the work requires. Additional resources are provided below that give step-by-step instructions for DIY homeowners.
    Light switch and plug replacement costs are given for both doing it yourself and hiring an electrician. We include the materials and tools you’ll need and their cost too.

    These tips are designed as an overview of the project to give you a clear understanding of what it requires. Then, you’ll have the information you need to decide on DIY light switch or plug replacement or calling an electrician for the work.

    • The most important tip involves safety: Make sure the electrical circuit is off that powers the light switch you’re working on, or you risk injury or death from electrical shock
    • If you don’t know which circuit supplies power to the switch or plug, consider turning off power to the entire house
    • An electrical tester can be used to determine if the switch or plug has power, providing you assurance that it is indeed off.
    • Have the replacement switch or plug with you went you start the job
    • Use a screwdriver to remove the switch/plug cover and to remove the screws affixing the switch or cover to the electrical box
    • Pull the switch or cover from the electrical box – there should be enough extra wire that it can be removed an inch or two
    • Consider labeling the wires or making a diagram to know where to install them on the new switch or plug or take a close-up digital picture that use can reference while installing the new equipment
    • For plugs, the “hot” wire(s), usually black, attaches to the side of the plug with the shorter plug slot, while the white wire(s) connects to the side of the plug with the taller slot
    • The bare copper wire should attach to the ground screw, which is often green
    • The procedure is much the same with light switches – make a diagram or take a picture of the existing installation to guide you during installing the replacement
    • Once the wiring has been installed on the new switch or plug, push the unit back into the electrical box and use the screws to secure it
    • Replace the cover
    • Turn the circuit or main power back on
    • Test the light switch or plug to ensure that it is working
    • If it’s not working, call an electrician to diagnose and repair the problem

    Light Switch and Plug Replacement Costs

    Basic light switches and plugs are quite inexpensive – usually less than $4 each. A GFCI plug will cost $10 to $15. These Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter plugs are used in bathrooms, on countertops or other locations where water is available.

    DIY Switch or Plug Replacement: The only tool you’ll need for simple replacement is a screwdriver ($2 to $5). A pair of pliers ($5 to $10) might come in handy to help secure the wires the screws on the back or side of the switch or plug.

    Professional Light Switch or Outlet Repair: While it might take a professional just a few minutes to replace one outlet, most will have a minimum service charge of $80 to $125. If the cause of the problem is found not to be the switch or outlet, and more diagnostic work is involved, the cost of the repair might be significantly higher.
    For example, if the light switches or outlets don’t work in an entire area, the cause might be a circuit in the electrical box. The estimated cost of the repair might exceed $200 for replacing a circuit.

    How to Save Money on Electrical Repairs

    If you’re not comfortable working with electricity, perhaps you have a friend with experience in these types of repairs. Asking that friend to help is a good way to cut costs.

    When hiring an electrician, the best way to keep your costs as low as possible is to get several estimates for the repair from contractors that know they are competing for the work. It might also make sense to wait, if possible, until you have several small electrical repairs before hiring an electrician.

    DIY Light Switch or Outlet Replacement Resources

    Here’s a short list of additional help for these common electrical repair jobs.

    Electrician Medford Oregon – This post from an electrical contractor offers a good overview for how to replace a light switch.

    Allstar Electrical Services – An electrical contractor provides an overview for wiring light switches that is somewhat technical but very helpful.

    VisionAware – Good step-by-step instructions can be found here.

    Acme How To – This post covers replacing a light switch with a dimmer control.

    Be Jane – Pictures are included with this helpful blog post.


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