Minor Home Repairs 107: Light Fixtures & Switches

Let’s say your Client needs you to change a light switch. Tasker SueAnn M. would follow these steps:

  • Ask the Client in which room/s this task needs to be done.
  • Ensure it’s the correct type of switch by asking in advance for a photo of the current and the new switch plates.
  • Turn off the fuse for that room, or for the whole house if needed.
  • Test the wires to make sure they’re lined up.
  • Take off the switch. 
  • Put the same wires on the new switch.
  • Replace the plate.
  • Test that it works.

SueAnn told us that when faced with a task to install a dimmer switch, she leveraged her knowledge of replacing switches, which is very straightforward. With that foundation, she watched a YouTube video, consulted with a Tasker friend, and with very little effort she was able to install the dimmer switch and add another skill to her Skills & Experience pitch for Minor Home Repairs. 

Here are more generalized scoping suggestions spanning tasks involving light fixtures, light switch plates, dimmer switches, outlet replacement, and more. Pro tip: have a dedicated toolbox for Minor Home Repairs tasks requiring electrical work with every size screw. 

Scoping the task:

  • Ask how many fixtures need to be hung, light bulbs need to be changed, switches need to be installed, etc.
  • If it’s a repair for a fixture, ask how high up it is and if the Client has a step stool/ladder tall enough (the typical ceiling height is 9’ in the US and Canada, and around 8’ in Europe, so step stools can often suffice).
  • Ask if the Client ordered a new fixture and if they can send you the link and a photo of the existing fixture they want to replace; it helps to scope if what they ordered will work!
  • If the Client is replacing a light fixture with a ceiling fan, be sure to assess whether the electrical box can handle the added weight.
  • Based on the location of the task, try to assess what kind of house it is–this will give you insight into the age of electrical wiring, location of the fuse box, etc. 

Special tools for minor electrical tasks:

  • Tester to ensure proper circuits are turned off
  • Electrical tape 
  • A supply of various lengths and sizes of electrical machine screws. 
    • Some electrical ceiling boxes are just “pancakes,” or very shallow and will need much shorter screws than what comes with the light fixture.
  • Wire nuts
    • What comes with a light fixture may not work— i.e. the wire nuts may not connect to the wire size. 

Greg S. filters out tasks that are not truly minor, or that should be categorized as Electrical Work, and any that would require permits. 

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