Angie's How To Check and Replace Switch Plates

Date Published: Nov. 12, 2019

Difficulty:33%
Time: 15 Minutes

The plates covering your light switches may not be high on your list of household priorities, but they deserve some attention at least once a year. Hopefully this quick task will simply confirm that everything is in good shape, but you may wind up discovering damage that warrants a switch plate replacement.

1LOOK FOR DAMAGE

You're checking for cracks, chips or other damage. Switch plates with visible wear on the exterior should be replaced to reduce the risk of fire or electric shock.

2CHECK OUT THE FIT

In addition to wear and tear, make sure your switch plates fit properly. If wires are visible or the hole surrounding the switch or outlet is too big or small, it's best to replace the plate with one that fits correctly.

3MOVE TO THE NEXT PLATE

If you check every plate and don't find any problems, you're done! If you discover one or more damaged switch plates, continue to step #4.

4REMOVE THE PLATE

If it looks like a replacement is necessary, carefully unscrew the switch plate from the wall.

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Tip: Older switch plates can bond to paint and wallpaper over time, so take extra care not to damage the surrounding area when pulling the plate from the wall.

5PHOTOGRAPH THE SWITCH

Before purchasing new switch plates, make sure you know exactly what size and shape configuration you need. There is a long list of options. We recommend snapping a picture of the exposed switch to take with you to the hardware store for reference. Generally, a new switch plate costs $5-$10.

Related: How much does it cost to replace a light switch?

6REPLACE

Once you've purchased your shiny new switch covers, make sure the power is turned off (once again) before attaching them. Hold the new switch plate over the light switch or outlet and screw each screw in halfway. Confirm that the switch cover is positioned correctly before tightening the screws the rest of the way.

Related pro: Local Electricians

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