Are your switches and outlets looking dingy? Do they no longer match your decor?
Make this an opportunity to improve your home for appeal, safety and efficiency!
Here are a list of things you should be thinking about if you want to change your switches and outlets:
- Change out dimmers to LED compatible dimmers. The future is LEDs, this will make your switch to lower bills smoother.
- Use Tamper Proof outlets, this means the child-proofing is built-in. This also helps energy efficiency, most of the air leakage at an outlet comes thru the plug.
- Use outlets with USB plugs built-in in the kitchen and bedrooms.
- Use motion sensor switches in laundry rooms, garages, pantry’s and closets. Think about places you normal enter or exit with your hands full.
- Use humidity sensor switches for bathroom or laundry room exhaust fans. This way they turn on when you need them most and most have internal timers as well.
- Consider smart switches in key areas like the front door, foyer, flood lights, kitchen and living room.
- Consider programmable switches for outdoor lighting, if the all out “Smart Devices” aren’t for you.
This job is not for the novice and there are some important items to consider (local codes could require different practices, this is just as a best practice):
- Inspect wires for cuts or abrasions or spots of overheating. These need to be resolved, not just repaired.
- Note if your switches have neutral wires in the box. This will impact your options as you buy your future switches.
- Inspect for Aluminum wiring, if you find Aluminum wiring you need a lot more instruction and help than I’ll provide in this blog. (sorry)
- Make sure wires extend at least 3 inches past box and at least 6 inches total.
- When putting the new switch or outlet in, don’t force the wires. Neatly fold the wires to minimize stress.
- Wrap outlets and switches with electrical tape to cover conductors (not required by code in most places, just a good practice)
- If it has a ground lug, use it! That means switches, outlets, metal electrical boxes, etc.
- Make sure you have the right gauge wire for the outlet or switch and that they all match with the breaker as well.
As for making your home more comfortable and efficient:
- Caulk or foam seal between the drywall and electrical box.
- Seal all of the holes in the electrical box – only if you can do it without changing the free volume of the electrical box.
- Use foam insulators under the covers, especially for exterior walls. These have marginal benefit, but it is justified if no additional labor is involved.