How to Replace A three Way Switch In your house
There are three kinds of switches in your home. A single pole, three way and a four way. The only pole is by far the simplest and I’ve explained how to install it in an older blog. Should you scroll down and look on the right you’ll find it in the archives. The three way is what I will probably be explaining today. I will certainly be explaining probably the most confusing one soon, THE FOUR WAY.
The three way switch
A 3 way switch is a switch that’s used together with other switches to turn on the identical lights or lights. Now you probably have 2 switches and only 2 switches turning on the identical lights or light you definitely have 3way switches. If you are Unsure Don’t ASSUME!!! If there’s a third switch controlling the identical group of lights or light one of many switches is a 4way switch and you will purchase the wrong switch, it will not work and you’ll be mad at me. The smartest thing to do is to check first. To do this follow these steps.
a) Thin flat head screw driver
b) Phillips head screw driver
d) wire strippers(maybe)
e) ac tester
f) electrical tape
2) Shut the power off to the switch. If your old switch still works (yes people change switches that still work) turn it on. Go to your panel (your panel has the breakers or the fuses in it) and turn the breakers off one by one. Changing a switch is a one man job but if you wish to avoid running back a forth another person standing there and yelling at you when the sunshine shuts off helps. Or shutting all of the breakers off and the primary just to be sure is what I’d recommend. This is electricity SAFETY FIRST!!!!!
3) Remove the plate cover from the switch. This might be the best part of your project. On the highest and bottom of the switch there shall be small screws. You have to the thin flat head screwdriver to remove these. If the situation you are installing the switch has multiple switches you might want to remove all the plate screws. Then remove the plate and place the screws and the plate together for replacing later. Do not lose those little screws believe me they are easy to lose.
4) Remove the switch from the wall. OK the fun part. Take a drill or a Phillips head screw driver and take out the screws on the highest and bottom of the switch. Now grab the yoke of the switch(that’s the top and bottom of the switch) do not grab the switch by the side we want to make sure the facility is off and the one method to do this is to tug out the switch. The ability is located on the side so for those who grab it by the sides and for some reason the power continues to be on you’ll get shocked. This is electricity SAFETY FIRST!!!!! So grab the yoke and pull out the switch. If you are in a box with multiple switches chances are you’ll need to remove multiple switches to be able to pull your switch out far enough to simply work on it. Wires commonly get stuck behind other switches so take the extra step you will wind up doing it anyway after trying to work with short wires and fail. Trust me I tried too.
5) Check and ensure power is turned off!!!! That is the most important a part of this project. Your tester should have a black and red lead on it. Set your tester to 120v ac and place one lead on one of the screws of the switch and the opposite lead on the metal box. If you don’t have a metal box you then definitely have romex and you will have bare wires within the box. These bare wires are your ground, place your other lead on the bare wires. If you shouldn’t have a metal box or bare wires Stop and call an electrician, we need to make sure the power is off. I am sorry but we don’t need anyone getting hurt. While keeping your one lead on either the box or the bare wires place the other lead on each screw ensuring that your meter shows no power. I don’t want to scare anyone but it does hurt when you get shocked and most significantly it could actually kill you. Electricity is fun for me and i work with it everyday but you probably do not, so be careful.
6) Decide what kind of switch you have. A three way switch is pretty easy to identify. It has three screws with three wires connected to it. Simply because you may have 3 screws doesn’t mean you have got a 3 way switch in operation there. All three screws have to have wires on them, sometimes people by the wrong switch and put it in anyway. Its a waste of cash but it surely happens. I’ve done it after i didn’t have a single pole and i did not have time to go get at the shop and the one thing i had was a 3 way. Anyway if your switch has three screws with 2 wires you could have a single pole so have a look on the blog on single post in my archive. If you have already got the switch skip to #8 if you do not put the switch back in for safety never leave wires exposed for other people to play with. This is electricity SAFETY FIRST!!!!!
7) Go to the store and buy the switch. Your ready to purchase the switch. This is the best and for some people the most frustrating. Do yourself a favor and look on the switch before you purchase it. I don’t know what number of times I went out and bought a switch that was within the wrong bin. I get all the way in which back after which I decide to look at it turn around and go back to the shop. Do not think because its in a box that says three way you have got a 3 way. People take out the switches and put them in the wrong box. Believe me it has happened to me loads of times in the past, but not anymore, i check. Also your new switch will not say “ON” or “OFF” on it, that is a single pole.
8) Identify your wires. On a three way switch there are 2 travelers and an odd ball wire. I am not going to explain how this works in this text just the replacement today. That will probably be a full article in its self. An easy solution to identify that is by taking a look at your switch. It’s best to have 2 silver screws and 1 black screw. The wire on the black screw is the wire that we’re going to mark along with your electric tape. Mark it before you take the wires off the switch. If you don’t have a black screw on your switch look in your box. Are 2 wires coming from the same pipe or romex and 1 wire coming from a distinct pipe or romex. The odd ball is your odd ball mark it.
9) Remove the wires from the switch. Unscrew the the screws over the wires and take away the wires from the switch.
10) Connecting the new switch. Pick up your switch and make sure it is a 3 way switch. Hold it with your left hand so the screws face up and the decorative side is facing you. Take the marked wire and wrap it around the black screw, be sure that the wire is completely under the screw and tighten. You might have to strip somewhat more insulation off the wire to get a superb loop around the screw. Sometimes the loop is too long and it’s possible you’ll have to shorten the exposed copper in your wire. If you should make a brand new loop this is how you do it. Strip about an inch of exposed copper on your wire. To make a very good loop your strippers usually have a small hole near the teeth of the tool. Place the wire half way into the opening and bend, that should offer you a pleasant loop. Take the remaining wires and wrap it around the remaining screws and tighten.
11) Installing the brand new switch. Your switch at this point must be facing you. There isn’t any the other way up here so carefully push the switch into the position. While pushing the switch within the wires should be pushed in in order that they fall easily into the box. It takes practice so get the wires in there so it doesn’t appear like a knot. The 2 screws on the switch’s yoke must be lined up with the holes on the top and bottom of the box. Screw the top one in almost all the best way. Now screw in the underside one so the yoke touches the drywall. Finish screwing in the highest screw so the the switch is snug to the drywall. Don’t over tighten just snug. This probably made the bottom one lose so make that one snug too.
12) Finishing. Put the plate back on. Please for me be sure that your screws are all facing the same way in your plate(i do know but its a pet peeve) If your box has multiple switches you may have to slide your switch left or right to get the plate on. Turn the facility on because you just finished installing your first switch. Enjoy
Check your state and native codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. I cannot be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.