Learn How to Easily and Safely Move a Light Switch in 5 Simple Steps
Moving a light switch (or other electrical connection, such as a receptacle) may seem like a daunting project. However, if you take necessary safety precautions and follow directions carefully, you can pull it off in five easy steps. The process described here can help you move a switch from one side of the wall to the other—for example, from the wall inside one room to the next room or hallway.
Safety Note: To prevent hazards from electrical shock, you must turn the circuit breaker off at the main panel. Confirm this is done by checking if the fixture or appliance attached still comes on when you flip the switch you want to move. Attach a message to the door of your circuit breaker panel warning anyone else not to touch any of the switches inside the panel while you’re working.
Pick up light switch supplies on Amazon. Since you’re just moving the switch through a wall to the other side, you shouldn’t need to install additional cables—the existing wiring should be fine.
Using a screwdriver, remove the cover plate from the switch box, then remove the screws holding the switch and pull the switch and wires out of the box as far as it goes. Put a multimeter across the black wire going to the switch’s terminal and ground to confirm that it’s not powered. Remove all the wire nuts and undo all connections, making a note where each wire goes.
If there are two cables inside the box, one of them goes to the fixture, while the other comes from the main panel’s circuit breaker. If there’s only one cable, the cable brings the hot wire right from the fixture.
With the wires stretched out of the way, assess how the box is secured to the stud and remove screws or nails holding it in place. If that’s not possible, you can gently pry the box away from the stud with a large flat screwdriver or a prybar, then use a saber saw with a short metal-cutting blade between the box and the studs to cut the nails off and release the box. The cable will keep the box from dropping out.
Once the box is loose, you can remove the cable from the box by loosening the cable connector. The box should be or might be reusable for the other side.
Next, you will use a drill to create two holes. With the long drill bit secured in the drill, place the drill bit perfectly horizontal up against the top corner of the opening and drill a hole through the drywall on the other side of the wall. You can then bring the bit down to the bottom corner of the opening and drill a second hole along the stud. Those two holes will provide you with the location of one side of the electric box at the new location.
Once the two holes are completed, take a pencil and trace a vertical line between the two holes. Place the electric box flat against the wall keeping it along the line. Trace the contour of the box on the wall. With a keyhole saw or a jigsaw, cut the opening in the drywall carefully. If done neatly, the piece can be used to patch the old switch opening.
Once the opening is cut, bring the cables out through the opening. Pass one cable (or both if a two cable installation) through the knock-out up to the cable connector and secure it to the box with the lock nut. All the wires from the 2nd cable (if there was more than one) must be taped together along with a string about 10 inches long. You can then put the string through the 2nd knock-out from the outside in without pulling the wires through. This will permit reinsertion of the box in place exactly as it was removed, only in reverse order.
Align the electric box with the wall’s surface, and with the long screwdriver bit and two screws, secure the box in place. With this done, you can pull the string to bring the wires, and the cable connector in and secure it with the locking nut.
With all the wires stretched out of the box, take the ground wires, attach or twist them together, and connect them to the grounding screw terminal inside the box with an extra piece that will connect to the green ground terminal screw on the switch. Connect the two black wires to each of the two switch terminals and pigtail the two whites together. Secure everything with a wire nut. If there is only one cable the white wire attaches to one of the switches terminals while the cable connects to the other terminal.
After connecting the wire turn the circuit breaker back on. The switch should now work properly. Slide the switch back into the switch box, making sure to keep any wires properly penetrated in the box away from any sharp edges. Connect each wire to the screw terminals on the switch and make sure everything is tidy. Finally, screw the switch in place and put on the cover plate to finish.
Moving a light switch is not a complicated project, but it is important to take the necessary safety precautions to prevent electrical shock. Follow these steps to help you easily move the light switch to its new location. Make sure to have the appropriate supplies and follow each step carefully.