Switches, dimmers, sensors, and speed controls are all common to the modern home. Whether you’re using a simply on and off switch, or a variable control for adjust fan speeds or lighting levels, we’ve filled our homes with tiny interfaces to control the electronics of each home. Upgrades and home-aging eventually necessitate replacing wall-switches. But sometimes a switch in the type of device can call for a replacement as well (as is the case with dimmer switches). Replacing a wall control is usually pretty simple and may be the best solution for some household electrical problems.
We’re going to start with dimmers because many of the most common issues stem from these useful but problem-filled devices. Always double-check compatibility when buying a dimmer. Buzzing, humming, flickering, and even overheated switches can be caused by incompatible dimmer controls. LED lights are useful, CFLs are efficient, and incandescent bulbs are friendly and familiar, but mixing these types of bulbs on the same switch or pairing them with a dimmer can lead to all sorts of strange problems.
Dimmer switches have some fairly common issues that are easily resolved. The best way to see if the problem is a dimmer switch is to remove the bulbs and try them in a different circuit that doesn’t have a switch. If the bulbs turn on without buzzing or flickering, then the dimmer is likely the problem. Dimmers are great, but they require more attention than other controls.
Fan speed controls function in a similar capacity. To be clear, fan speed controls are installed separately from lighting circuits since they tied directly to the fan motor. If you don’t already have a fan control installed into your home, it’s best to have a new system installed by a professional.
Replacing Switches and 3-Way Switches
Light switches are as easy to replace as electrical outlets. The process is almost identical to replacing an electrical outlet in your home:
- Turn off power to the circuit at your electrical panel
- Remove the faceplate from your wall switch
- Test for power using a voltmeter
- Unscrew the light switch from the wall housing
- Remove the switch from the housing
- Take note of the wiring configuration on the back of your light switch
- Duplicate the wiring connections with your new light switch
- Place the new switch in the receptacle and replace the cover
- Restore power and test the light switch
Duplicating the wiring setup on the back of your switch is the most difficult part of replacing a switch, especially when you’re working a 3-way or multiway light switch. If you want a room’s lights to be controlled from multiple locations, each of the switches has to be connected to the same circuit. Your light switch will come with special instructions for wiring multiple switches together but if your house is already configured in this manner, duplicating the existing connections is the easiest method.
If you’re having trouble getting the switch to work, it’s better to call in a professional to have the switches fixed. It’s always better to call a professional than to risk damage to yourself or your home.
Smart wall controls and interconnected controls are becoming more popular every day. Rather than having a series of manual switches throughout your home, a single touch-panel interface and mobile control from your phone have increased in popularity. These smart controls allow homeowners to have seamless walls and advanced control of each light, outlet, and fan in every room.
Installing smart controls into a home is a big task. The best way to ensure quality control is to have it installed professionally. A professional installation ensures clean walls, fewer cuts into walls, and full code-compliance. When you’re done, you’ll be left with a home that triggers lights automatically and gives you full control from your phone instead of the wall on the far side of the room.
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