How to change a switch?


Whether a switch is broken, sizzling or is simply no longer in harmony with your interior decoration, do not hesitate to change it yourself. The operation is simple and will only take you a short half an hour. You don’t need to be a seasoned electrician to change your switch. Here are the steps to follow to successfully complete this small operation without difficulty.

The star of the tool: the screwdriver

If you have a flathead screwdriver, great; you could almost be satisfied with it. But there are a few tools that can be really helpful in changing your switch without stress. In your toolbox, also plan a universal pliers (for cutting), a stripping pliers, a cutter… And don’t forget the new switch to install!

Work safely

Don’t put yourself in danger! Before changing your switch, first cut off the power supply. The easiest way is to turn off the general circuit breaker. If you are familiar with the indications on your electrical panel, you can simply remove the fuse corresponding to the power supply zone of the switch.

In case of doubt – for example in the case of an old installation – do not hesitate to use a VAT (voltage absence tester) or a multimeter. You will be able to verify with certainty the absence of electric current at the level of the switch or the socket.

Remove the switch to be changed

A switch box consists of Three parties : the rocker (this button on which you press to turn on or off), the front (visible from the outside) and the frame (the interior part fixed to the wall).

For some switches, you have to start by removing the rocker, then the front. Sometimes the rocker stays in place and you have to detach the faceplate first. In both cases, use your flat screwdriver to unclip the faceplate.

Once it’s done, you go to the framework of the switch. You can then unscrew the screws that hold it to the wall and gently remove the frame from the wall. Once released from the wall, let the switch hang at the end of its electrical wires. Turn it over so you can access the wires.

Disconnect the electrical wires from the old switch

If the power supply is cut off, then you can unplug securely the electrical wires from the switch terminals. This is generally connected by two wires, both of which must be disconnected. Be careful to separate them: blue on one side, red on the other. The blue color corresponds to the neutral wire and the red is reserved for the phase. Attention, the phase is sometimes of another dark color (black, brown, orange, purple…) but the neutral is always blue.

If a third wire, yellow and green, is present, it is earth. It is found on switches operating back and forth. But most often a basic switch has neither earth nor neutral. You will always have a live wire, most often red, and a second wire.

Connect the wires to the new switch frame.

Once disconnected, check that the wires are stripped about ten centimeters before wiring them to the new switch. For connection, you will have to put the wires back in the correct holes. Rest assured, an electrical diagram is usually drawn on the back of the case. Either way, you have two wires to hook up. Start by connecting the phase (red wire, sometimes black or brown…) to terminal L of the switch. The second wire takes place on one of the two remaining terminals. Depending on the terminal chosen for this second wire, the ignition will be done by making the rocker play up or down. When there is a blue neutral wire, it always fits in the N terminal.

For a two-way switch: double connection.

If you have to switch back and forth, the operation is hardly more complicated. This type of switch controls several lighting points in several places. You will therefore have two twinned switches, A and B. To successfully connect, proceed as follows: connect the red wire to terminal L of switch A. For the second wire, it must be connected from terminal 1 from switch A to terminal 1 of switch B. Same thing for terminal 2: the second wire goes from A to B while remaining on terminal 2. As for the external connections, the red wire of the circuit breaker goes to switch A (terminal L), while terminal L of switch B connects to the lighting point (the lamp).

Close the new case and secure it to the wall.

With the wires connected correctly, you can close the case switch by attaching its frame to the rear. Now is the time to insert it into the wall cavity. If necessary, use a spirit level to check that it is horizontal. Then insert the housing of the new switch in the wall. If it is a built-in model, push it to the bottom until it clicks into place. For a classic screw-type model, all you have to do is close it and secure it with the screws, making sure to tighten them. Some models are fixed with claws, for which it is necessary to tighten the screws which control the claws.

Once the case is fixed, check the solidity of the binding before raise the facade and the rocker. It simply clips.

Test the operation

Is your new switch in place? You can re-energize the electrical circuit, either by moving the fuse removed beforehand, or by putting the general circuit breaker back into service.

Try turning on the light with your switch. If this does not work, it is possible that a wire was incorrectly connected, or that it escaped from its hole when reassembling the assembly. If this is the case, do not forget to turn off the power before checking the connections …

If the light shines on the first try, well done, the installation is successful!