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How to replace a bad wall switch (Page 2)


WHAT IF...?

What if there are more than two colored wires connected to the switch? If this is the case, you’re dealing with a three-way switch (if there are three colored wires) or a four-way switch (if there are four colored wires). Before removing a three- or four-way switch, use masking tape to label the wires to identify which screw terminals they are attached to.

 

For a three-way switch, one screw terminal is labeled “common,” and is almost always darker in color than the other two. Make sure the wire that was attached to the common screw terminal on the old switch is connected to the common screw terminal on the new switch. The other two wires aren’t critical; they can be attached to either of the remaining screw terminals.

 

 

Four-way switches are a little trickier. In most cases, you’ll be attaching the pair of wires attached to the top two screw terminals on the old switch to the same screws on the new switch. Then you’ll attach the other pair of wires to the bottom pair of screws- Some manufacturers, though, use a different pairing sys tem, with one screw terminal pair on the right side of the switch, the other on the left. A good way to avoid problems is by buying a replacement made by the same manufacturer that made the old switch.

 

WHAT IF...?

 

what if there is a white wire connected to the switch? in certain installations, a switch is connected with one black wire and one white wire. (The pros call this installation a "switch loop.) If the electrician did a good job, the end of the white wire should have black tape, indicating that it carries current. Treat it just like a black wire when you install your new switch. If there is no tape on the end of the white wire, wrap a bit of electrical tape on the end. The next per son who works on the circuit will thank you.

 

 

 

 

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