How to Wire a Light Switch Per Electric Code for Wiring

– Today we are going to show you how to change this old light switch to a newer light switch like this So we’re gonna take it from this old ugly image, and turn it into this, with a little bit of magic (upbeat music) Hey everybody, Jeff back here again And if this is your first time joining us, welcome to the channel We produce videos for you every single week that cover all sorts of parts of DIY projects you can do around the house, and engineering disasters And today we are covering this, the light switch, for you So let’s get busy on it, I want to start right into it We’ve already got the plate removed, but I just wanted to tell you, for safety purposes, you gotta make sure that the fuse is turned off for this particular light switch Okay, and I always use one of these little loop testers, this is a great little volt tester that’ll just let you know if there’s any voltage in there So you push the button, see how it lights up like that, that’s to test it And then when you stick it in there, you’ll see it immediately turns on So you know there’s voltage in there right now So I don’t want to be operating in here when this thing’s turned on So let’s go turn it off at the panel Okay, so it’s number 19 off my chart that I made And then I’m gonna come over here and flip the switch Okay, now that we’ve turned off the power we’re going to retest it again, just to make sure, ’cause you never know, they could be labeled wrong, maybe we flipped the wrong switch So I see we’re still seeing something in here But fortunately, the ones on this side are fine So we need to find out what else is in here And I believe it’s the switch to the kitchen light, on the other side of the wall Kitchen light (click) Alright, so I flipped the kitchen lights for the other side, there’s a light switcher on the other side of the wall And we’ll try it again So now we’re not picking up any voltage So now we know we’re safe We can go in here and start pulling out the outlet now (motor whirring) So we do that screw first, and we do that screw second So you may find yours to be a flat head These are phillips on mine Throughout this house we have found a lot that were flat head, so you just use a flat head screwdriver So then it pops right out Alright, so here’s what they did I’ve disconnected these wires here What they did here is this wire for the switch goes all the way up to the light fixture up on the ceiling, way up on the top So if you look way up the wall there, you can see there’s a light fixture up there And then coming back down here, you can see where the black wire here would go to the switch And then this one here is the line power for the switch So when you flip on the switch, it creates a short between these two which connects the line power to the load that goes up to the light and turns on the light Very simple This also, if you can see in here, there’s another wire here that’s connected to it, and it runs through the back side of this outlet box here, and it runs around the corner wall to the kitchen light switch So the kitchen light switch is also getting its power from this one as well So what we’re going to have to do is we have to create a pigtail wire that goes from here to the back of the new switch, see, because this wire’s gonna go here, and we need a third wire to go from here onto our switch, okay And probably even more important is this outlet is currently, as it sits, is in violation of today’s National Electric Code because that is a metal box, and by code the metal box must be bonded to the system ground And they do have some ground wires coming in here And they’re in the back, they’re copper wires, and they just made them very short And they’re twisted together, and I think they’re latched onto one of those little clips inside the box, and hopefully it’s getting its ground from there We’re going to test that theory out, by ohming out our little mutli volt meter there We’re going to ohm out between our ground pigtail that we’re going to stick here on the can to the ground wire, and it should be ohmed out as a short circuit, and if it is, that means we have our box properly grounded to system ground So let’s do that now Okay, alright, so this is the ground pigtail that we need to connect up to ground our outlet to this box So we’re first going to screw this in If you look back here in the middle of the box, see how there’s one hole that’s smaller than all the others, that hole is the one we’re going to screw

this green screw into So I’m going to screw it all the way down, so it’s nice and tight against the box Okay Okay, so the pigtail is now installed, and you want to make sure it’s in there real nice and tight, okay Alright, so now we’re testing our continuity to ground So we have the ground wire attached to the metal outlet box We’re assuming that the metal outlet box is connected to the system ground by these copper wires that came in We’re gonna test that right now by using our ohmmeter, and see how it says overload right now, OL When I hook up our lead to the copper wire, it’s gonna tell me So the red clip right here is connected to the ground wire And the black one, we’re gonna touch it to the copper wire that’s coming in to see if it’s short circuit, so see how it drops down to .1 ohm, that means short circuit, that’s how these particular multi meters work And if I pull it back off again it goes back to overload So now we are pretty confident that our metal box is bonded to the system ground as required by code And what if it wasn’t, supposing we got an open circuit there, what would you do? Well what we normally do is we’ll grab the copper wire there, and we’ll wrap it underneath the green ground screw here as we connect up the screw That way everything gets bonded together So now we can continue on Okay, so now I take the end of my ground, and I’m gonna run it through my little loop maker here So what I just do here is this is a little tool I use that just, you bend it around, and it gives you a perfect loop every time I usually make it a little wider, just to get it around the screw So now I’m going to take my outlet And here’s the green ground screw And if we look closely here, you always want to make sure that your wire goes like that, it has to go clockwise around the screw like that, so that when you screw it down, remember left loosey, righty tighty, when you’re turning it clockwise to tighten it down, it will stay tightened But if I was to flip it this way, counterclockwise, (alarm buzzing) and try to tighten it, what I could end up doing is unraveling that loop So that’s why you always remember it has to hook around clockwise like that, okay, that’s how it works Okay, alright, so now I take my needle nose here, and I just squeeze them together there like that See that, so it closes the loop, that way that ground wire will never, ever, come off of there, ever And using my screwdriver here to just tighten it down And when I’m done this will be all perfectly tightened And by the way, if you take a close look at this screw here, if you want to come in close and take a look here, you can see that this is a phillips head, and it’s a slotted head at the same time So it’s a really strange kind of head that you’ve probably never seen before This means that you can either use a phillips head screwdriver or a slotted head, or both So this is one of those combination screwdrivers, I don’t know if we can see the head very well in there, but it’s got both on there So this actually hits in there like a cross And it gives you a better grip You can also use a 5/16 hex driver, which I sometimes do as well So looking at the dado here, sometimes I’ll use this little hex driver and turn it, actually this one’s a little smaller, probably a 1/4 inch So there we have it The ground wire is on nice and perfect And now we just have to deal with these other two wires, here And since this is a switch, it really doesn’t matter which direction you put them on I tend to follow the convention that we use on the GFCI outlet, so I tend to put the line up top, and the load down at the bottom, just because it’s the way we do it with the GFCI outlets So let’s do that now Okay, so here is the wire I had to create This is the pigtail that’s gonna go from these two black wires here, to our switch that’s gonna hook on right there Now in order to connect them together, you could twist these together with a standard wiring nut But in this case I’m using my wago connector, and I love using these when I’m in a tight space And sometimes these just simplify connecting several wires together,

because you take the wire here and you insert it, into the connector, and then you close the little trap door down, see Holds it in nice and snug And this, the other two wires will connect into these two slots So this is a great way to connect three wires together I use fives and I use twos all the time with these as well So, let’s go ahead and get these connected in He’s already in, wire number two is gonna get put in there Alright now we’re going to connect up these other two wires So here’s wire number two (upbeat music) Just put him all the way in, and snap the door down And wire number three, make sure he goes all the way back, And turn it off Okay, here’s the third wire, and he’s all snapped in So now all three of these black wires are connected together And I’m going to connect this up to the terminal of the switch here And the top is here, so I think what we’re going to do is clip him right on the top one I’m gonna run the wire through like that, and I’m going to take my needle nose pliers just like I did with the ground wire, and I’m gonna squeeze these two together So I’m just gonna squeeze these around, so we’re sort of closing up the loop there on that one Alright, so now I’m going to grab my screwdriver And screw that wire down Okay, so now we have those done This wire here, and we have found this issue through this entire project, I’m really sick of this But you’re gonna find this all the time too The builder, when they originally wired this outlet, did not make this wire long enough It really should come out six inches, and this is why, because now you really can’t reach the terminal where it’s supposed to go So we’re gonna create a second pigtail for this wire as well Alright, so you can see here if we come up and take a look here, up here you can see I’ve wired in the black wire, the second wire here, for the pigtail because the builder didn’t give us enough room, with the wire, didn’t give us enough slack So now we’re gonna take the other part of the wire, and we’re gonna connect it down in here But here I’m gonna show you the second way that you can wire onto this type of switch You see how you got this loose plate here, what’s really cool about these is, if I can wiggle it down here, you can stick the wire behind it, and bring the wire right up to it like that, and then you can screw it into place And I’ll show you here what it’s doing, the plate pushes against the wire, but you wanna make sure that your insulation just comes right up to it Okay, so you can see how if we push it in just so the insulation comes just on the outside of that bracket, and then we’re going to tighten the bracket down like this Okay, so it puts a nice grip up against the wire Now don’t confuse this with backstabbing, this is not the same as backstabbing, where if you can see, there’s two other holes in here, and some people like to take the short cut and stick the wires into those holes in the back, that’s called backstabbing, and that’s very unreliable because it’s not a good connection So what happens is, it can cause arcing, and it might trip your arc fault circuit interrupters, if you have those on the line, and they’re just bad A lot of times, anytime I’ve pulled out a light switch that wasn’t working, it’s because a wire popped out of the back from backstabbing And then a lot of times the guys will cut the insulation too much off, and you’ll see a wire sticking outta the back with a 1/4 inch of wire exposed, which is bad If you look at mine here, there’s no exposed wire So now what we’re going to do is something that I always do when I’m done with the outlets, I’m going to remove these two screws first, and then I’m going to wrap electrical tape around all of this so that the leads will be insulated so that if anybody’s ever working in here with a tool, or sticks their hand on it, they won’t get shocked So I do this for safety purposes I don’t really see anybody else do this, I wish more people would,

but it’s a great extra step to do for somebody’s safety God knows how many people’s lives I’ve saved all over the years, and they just don’t know it yet So I take my electrical tape, and I just go right over the terminals like that, and I’m going to wrap it around a couple of times Just like that And this is my preferred method of doing it That way, as you can see, no where in here is there any exposed wires or terminals The ground one is fine, that’s never energized It’s just these two here, okay So now we’re ready to start stuffing it back in Alright, so, there is a little bit of an art and science to getting the wires in, you don’t just jam them in there and hope it works, ’cause it will never work that way You want to create a graceful accordion out of these wires here So see how these black ones here, they start in the back, they come right here, and there’s a good point to make an accordion out of it, and you can push them back in there And see how the connector just goes way in the back there, like that And then you can take the second one here and do a similar thing with that, and I love using this tool ’cause it really takes the load off my hands, my fingers otherwise would be killed So, you just push that way in the back there Push him in the back out of the way And we’re gonna do the same thing with the ground So I’m gonna push him down, so that we go to push in, it’ll, tch, go in like that, okay And then So now we just push the outlet in, see how it went in nice and easy there And then if you notice here, you gotta make sure you have it the right direction, there is a polarity to the way that you connect up the outlets And in this one here, usually I identify it with this brand, with the gold ground clip But also you’ll see the word top, if we come and look at it real close and tight, you can see the word top is engraved in that metal right there So that’s how you know you have it set up right, in the right direction Okay, so now we’re gonna put the screw back And there’s a hole back in there on the outlet box that we’re looking for, that we’re gonna hit right there with the screw, and just screw it in a little bit for now, just make sure he’s in place And then we’ll do the other one The other one’s gonna go through this hole You don’t want to screw one in all the way and then not the other, because you want this switch to kind of go in level Okay, now we’re doing the top one And don’t panic if it takes you a while Sometimes these are the hardest screws in the world to ever have to screw in, because you’re trying to get it through the eye of this, and then find that teeny tiny little 6/32 hole there, and sometimes it’s a real challenge to get it in And hopefully yours isn’t stripped So you just screw it all the way in Okay, so just a reminder, if you found this video helpful, we would appreciate if you give us a thumbs up, down below, just click on the thumbs up icon And you can also click on the subscribe button down below so you can come back and watch more of our videos, and when you hit the subscribe button you can also hit the bell icon next to it, which will tell you every time we upload a new video, that will alert you So, as you’re tightening this down, there’s a couple of things you have to keep in mind These tabs here, these four tabs that you see here, they have to push against the drywall Now a lot of times, you can end up with bad drywall work from the builders We see it on half the outlets in this place, where it’ll miss, and then you’re kind of in trouble because you gotta just let it float there But you can also adjust it slightly left or right on the bottom and on the top, and things will go sideways, so when you hook your spirit level up to it, like that, you can tell that it’s right smack dab in the middle there, so we know that this outlet’s nice, straight up and down Test the switch on and off, we don’t have a light up there yet, but we can test the voltage up there And then we’re going to put the outlet plate on next Alright, so here’s my wall switch plate, and one thing you’ll notice, and I’ll show you when I get it out of the bag It’s wider and taller than most wall plates, and that’s to allow for all this kind of stuff that I often see around the light switches So people make the mistake, I think, of buying the cheapy light switch plates that are skinny, and they find out that it’s not covering anything, so I always just go for the big bad boys no matter what And when you go to open it, you poke it from behind, not in the front, so that you don’t run the risk of scratching the plate That’s a mistake that a lot of newbies make

I can’t tell you how many new plates I’ve seen that have scratches on them Alright, so we’re going to put the plate on top there And we’re going to start to thread in the, I always do the upper one first, so that you can do it just a little bit and let it hang while you put the second one on, like that And you put the second one on Now, you can see what I was mentioning before, and I think it looks better too, to have a wider plate, I think it gives it a little bit more of a modern look And so now we’re just going to screw them in Now you’ll notice as I’m screwing in the plate, it’ll start to suck the switch out, so you’ll see a more defined line here around the switch And then I do the top And you’ll notice too, I always use metal plates I don’t like the plastic plates, even the ones that say they’re unbreakable, that’s nonsense, its baloney They will still crack everything, especially if you have an uneven wall Now this wall is fairly flat, so I don’t see any problems But the cool thing about this being metal, is sometimes we see a curvature in the wall I can take the metal plate back off, bend it slightly, and put it back on so that it conforms to the wall You can’t do that with plastic, it’ll just crack So, as we tighten this one down, (upbeat music) Well I hope you enjoyed it folks I hope you find this helpful, and remember all of the little safety tricks we told you about in here Make sure you incorporate all of the safety in there Alright, so that’s it for this week, and we’ll see you next week (upbeat music)