Many homeowners are wary of doing their own electrical lighting projects, mainly because they don't understand the wiring behind the switch plate and are afraid of getting a shock. It's actually not difficult to learn how to fix a light switch, and once you learn, you can also replace switches with dimmers if you desire.
Start with an easy project: replacing a single-pole switch. A switch is single-pole if it's the only switch that controls lights or receptacles in the room.
The first essential safety step is to turn off the power to the switch at your main circuit breaker panel, usually located in the basement or garage. Unscrew the switch plate and remove it, then use a voltage tester to make sure the circuit isn't live. The switch can then be unscrewed from the electrical box and pulled out with the wires still attached. Compare the new switch with the old one to find the corresponding electrical screw connectors.
Unscrew and connect one wire at a time; this will ensure the correct wires line up with the right connectors. Unscrew the first wire and attach it to the same colored screw on the new switch, then repeat with each of the others. The white wire connects to the silver screw, the black (or sometimes red) wire connects to the brass screw. The green or bare copper wire attaches to the green screw.
To connect a wire to its corresponding terminal, strip off 1/2 inch of insulation with a wire stripper, and twist the end into a clockwise loop with long-nose pliers. Hook the wire clockwise around the screw so that when it's tightened, it makes the loop wrap tighter too. Replace the new switch back into the electrical box and screw it into place. Replace the switch plate and turn on the power. For more information about replacing light switches, please contact:
Mr. Handyman of Wheaton-Hinsdale
245 W. Roosevelt Road #69
West Chicago, IL