How often do you redecorate a room, but it is let down by the same old boring light switch plate or plug socket? In my first house I redecorated all my rooms numerous times, but left the crap white plastic light switch plates the same! Looking back now, I could see they would stand out a mile and let down the effort I put in the rest of the room. I wouldn't tackle them for the same reason most people don't - spending extra/unnecessary money on a qualified electrician, plus not attempting to changing it myself due to being nervous of electricity.
Designer or 'nicer' switch plates cost more money, which is fine, but it's the added cost of hiring a electrician for something so small that always put me off. Their call out charge alone made it not worth updating the switches. So, you are left with changing the switch over yourself, but ELECTRICITY. Arrgghhhh! Totally scary. You can KILL yourself FFS.
In my blog post today I'm going to put this to you - is changing a switch plate really THAT scary? Think about it - when you hire an electrician and some 19 year old lad turns up with which you hand your hard-earned cash, can he really do something you couldn't do with the right advice? You are a SMART lady (or man, no sexism here), you can do this!
So, where to start?
The absolute key here is turning off your electricity at the fuse box. You can turn off just the electric that powers the part of the house where you are working, but I don't take any risks and turn off ALL the electricity in the house. Changing a switch won't take that long - don't worry your freezer won't thaw out!
Also - get yourself some flippin' clever tools that let you know if there are any live wires. An insulated screwdriver and a electrical tester screwdriver will tell you if electricity is present, and stop electricity passing though to you.
If in any way you really don't feel confident dealing with electrical switches and sockets, DON'T attempt this. Also, if your switch is broken or there is a problem with the wiring, leave it to a professional. However, if it is a basic switch over of a working light switch, here is how it works.....
I replaced a crappy hallway light switch with this gorgeous Buster + Punch black and gold light switch. If you have not heard of Buster + Punch before they sell really nice light switches based on motercycle parts, so you get this lovely switch that's really industrial in style and looks more like a switch on a amp or something:
Once you have turned off all your electricity from the fuse box, take your your insulated screwdriver and unscrew the old switch plate away from the wall. Your basic light socket has 3 wires - brown, blue, and yellow/green.
Your BROWN wire is your power into the switch plate (known as the 'live' wire in proper electrical jargon).
Your BLUE wire is your power out of the switch plate (your 'neutral' wire).
Your GREEN/YELLOW wire is your 'earth' wire, which acts as a safety wire stopping electric shocks.
Some of your wires may have extra casing on (you can see in the photo above my blue wire has a brown case at the end). Double, then triple check you are 100% sure you know what is your brown/blue/green & yellow wire. Then, using your electrical tester screwdriver as per the manufacturers instructions, apply the screwdriver to a screw holding a wire in place. No electricity present? Use your insulated screwdriver to gently unscrew one at a time all screws holding the three wires in place. Remove your old switch plate.
Take your new glam light switch and follow my above guide as to where the 3 wires need to be secured in the new plate. Your brown wire goes into the top of the plate, your blue in either L1 or L2 at the bottom, and your yellow/green goes in area at the side.
Gently loosed the screws in the switch plate, but DO NOT remove the screws completely as they are far too fiddly to get back in again!
One wire at a time, gently insert the exposed wire end into each hole as far as it will go, then tighten the screw down with your insulated screwdriver until it's firmly keeping the exposed wire ends in place. If any of your wire ends break, or the cable insulation needs cutting back, use a pair of wire cutters for the job. Just place the cutters over the plastic covering the wire, then skim off the tip of the plastic to expose more of the electrical wire.
Once complete, lightly screw your plate back into the wall using the fixtures and fittings supplied. Don't screw back fully yet as you need to check your new light plate works. Turn on your electricity, test the switch, if all works well turn off the electricity again and screw your pate back into the wall securely.
And here is my sexy Buster + Punch light switch up and being used after a 10 minute switch over by moi! I love how it complements my hallway better with the existing neon artwork:
Would you be confident enough to give this a go? Does it seem easier than you thought? Let me know if the comments section below!
* Thank you to Buster + Punch who kindly gifted me some light switches for this post.