How to Replace a Dimmer Switch

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Sometimes dimmer light switches stop fading the light on and off. Watch as a professional home repairman shows how to fix a dimmer light switch in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Home Improvement & Repair Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm James, with JNC Home Repair. Today, I'm going to show you how to replace a dimmer switch. First thing you want to do,is if you're having a problem with your dimmer switch. If the light is not dimming when you turn the knob on, or if it's flickering, or something like that. You probably need to just go ahead and replace the switch, or at least check for a loose connection. The first thing you want to do, is you want to remove the knob, and the knob actually just pulls right off of the switch, and you'll be left with just a little bitty dial, that turns back and forth. Once you've got the knob removed, there's two screws that hold the actual trim plate on. You're going to need a flat head screwdriver to remove those two screws. After you remove those two screws, you're going to pull the trim plate off, and you're going to see the exposed switch, as it sits in the wall. Before you go any further, you need to make sure that the breaker is turned off, to this plug, to this light. You want to make sure that there's no power going to this switch whatsoever, before you attempt to mess with this switch, because you don't want to get zapped, and it's always just safer just to have the breaker off. Once you've got the breaker off, you're going to need either a flat head screwdriver, or a drill, with a flat head bit attached to it. I prefer the drill, because I can get the screws. They're kind of long, and it kind of takes you a little while to get the screws out. If you just get the drill, and get the little bit on there, you can just zip them right out. There's two screws on the top and on the bottom. Once you have those two screws removed, the switch is ready to be pulled out. You go ahead and grab a hold of the switch. Pull the switch out of the box, that's inside the wall, and once you've got the switch out, there will be two wires that are connected out of the back of it, to the two wires that are inside the wall. All you do is take, they're going to be connected with wire nuts or wing nuts. Most of the time, they're either going to be yellow or red, or orange. What you do, is you go counterclockwise, and remove those wing nuts, and disconnect the wires. Now, before you disconnect the wires, what you need to do, is you need to make sure that you mark the one wire. Mark one of the wires. It doesn't matter which one it is, but mark one of them with a piece of electrical tape. That way you'll know which one goes back where, and then once you've done that, you can go ahead and disconnect the wire nut. Disconnect the wires, and replace it with the new switch. Take your new switch. Put it back. Connect your two wires back together. Make sure that you go clockwise with the wing nut, and make sure that you turn the wires to the right. That way when you turn the wing nut to the right, it's actually going to twist those wires together, instead of trying to loosen them up, as you're trying to tighten it up, and it just makes for a better connection, and you'll have less problems later, when you do that. Once you've got the wires connected, you want to go ahead and take the switch. Fold the wires, and push them back into the box, because you need a little bit of clearance. A dimmer switch is a little bit bigger than a normal switch. If you're just replacing like a regular light switch with a dimmer switch, you're going to lose a lot of room, because the dimmer switch is much bigger, so you need to go ahead and fold those wires, and bend those wires back, and pack them back in that box real good, so you've got enough clearance, to actually get the switch back in the box. Once you've got the switch in the box, you put the two screws back on. The one on the top, and one on the bottom. You try to get the head of the screw centered right in the little spacer, where the screw goes. You don't want it off to the right, or too far off to the left, because that's what your trim plate mounts to, and when you put your trim plate back on, if that switch is not centered in the box, then your trim plate is going to be crooked, so that's just something to remember as you're moving along. Once you've got the switch mounted back in the box, you go ahead and put your plate back on. Connect the two screws. Tighten those screws up. Put your knob back on, and you're ready to go.

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