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A Guide to Testing a Light Switch

 Autumn Copper -4 Toggle Wallplate

Decorative wall plates and switches are tiny things that you don't pay much attention to. But, they're essential in keeping the lights on in your home and ensuring you and your loved ones always feel safe and comfortable.

But, sometimes they break down. When that happens, you have to call an electrician to get them tested. This way, you can find out if something needs replacing, or it can be quickly fixed. Here's a brief guide on the process:

Tools Needed

First, the electrician will need a set of screwdrivers to remove the switch from the wall and disconnect it from the wires. There are two different types of screws, so they'll need multiple tools for the project.

They should also have a non-contact voltage tester for safety purposes. They'll need it to check if the switch and wires are still live before they touch them.

After that, they should get their continuity tester, which will check if the switch has an open or closed circuit. If it's the former, then the line of electricity is broken, which is probably why your lights aren't turning on.

How It's Done

Testing the switches in your decorative wall plates is a task best left to professionals, but it can't hurt to learn more about the process. This way, you can keep an eye out on what's going on and ensure things are as they should be. Here's a brief guide on how it happens:

Turn Off the Power

First, the contractor has to turn off the power in your home by pulling down the breakers in your service panel. This makes it easier for them to work and ensures no electrical accidents happen while they're doing their job.

They'll also check on the switch to be certain there's no more power running through it. To do this, they'll remove the screws on the cover plate and detach it to expose the wiring. Then, they'll get their non-contact voltage tester and look at each side of the circuit. The contractor will only proceed if no electricity is detected.

Remove It

Once the contractor has determined that it's safe to work on, the next step is to remove the switch. But, before they can do that, they have to identify what it is first. There are two types: the single pole and the three-way. The former has 2 side terminals while the latter has 3.

While there are some differences in how they should treat these two types, the general process of removing them is similar. The worker has to loosen the screws on each terminal, as well as the ground screw. Then, they'll pull the wires away one by one.

After that, they can remove the switch from the wall. The contractor will then place it on a nearby work surface for testing.

Test It

This is where the type of switch becomes relevant. If the electrician is dealing with a single-pole, then they'll have to attach the tester to one of the terminals. Afterward, they should press the probe against the other one to close the circuit. If everything is in working order, the device should light up when it's flicked on.

If they're dealing with a three-way switch, the process is a bit different. The electrician has to attach the tester to the screw terminal and place the probe on the other ones.

Then, they'll turn the switch on and off and wait for the tester to light up. After that, they'll check the other terminal. The device should activate in one but not in the other. If it doesn't work for either, then there's a problem that has to be fixed.

Reconnect It

But, if the contractor performs all these tests and no problems are found, then they can proceed to the last and final step, which is reconnecting the device to your wall. To do this, they simply have to attach the circuit wires as they were before and screw in each terminal securely. Then, everything will be as good as new again.

This is just a brief guide to testing the switches in your electrical cover plates. There are more specific steps to take for particular situations, so don't hesitate to consult an electrician. Contact Wallplate Warehouse to get in touch with experts when it comes to replacing your wall switch plates.

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