How to Move a Light Switch

person flipping a light switch
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
8" Screwdriver
Wire nuts
Colored marking pencils
Pen or pencil
Note pad
Single gang electrical box
Keyhole saw
8 penny nails

Moving a light switch (or other electrical connections, such as receptacles) may seem daunting. However, if you take necessary safety precautions to avoid electrical shock and follow directions carefully, you will have no trouble moving a light switch in five easy steps.

Step 1 – Take Safety Precautions Before Moving Your Light Switch

Turn on the switch you plan to move. If the switch at this location is a light switch, make sure the light it controls is turned on. Locate your circuit breaker panel and the circuit breaker that controls the switch, and turn the circuit breaker switch off. Then check the light that is controlled at the switch you will be moving. If the light is off, you turned off the right circuit breaker. Attach a message to the door of your circuit breaker panel warning others who may live in the home not to touch any of the switches inside the panel while you're working.

Step 2 – Disconnect Wires from Your Switch

Assuming you are just moving the switch through the wall, you will not need to install additional electrical wire (romex). Using a screwdriver, unscrew the screws on the cover plate and remove it from the switch box. Then, remove the screws that are holding the switch to the electrical box. Pull the switch and wires out of the box far enough that you'll be able to work on the switch's wire terminals and wires. Mark the terminals with colored markers. On your notepad, make a note as to which of the white, black, and bare wires go to which terminals. Loosen the screws holding the wires in place, and then remove the wires from the switch.

Step 3 – Cut an Opening in the Drywall

Using your hammer and screwdriver, punch a knockout tab out of the rear of your electrical box. Insert the point of your screwdriver through the opening you've just made in your electrical box until it comes to rest against the drywall surface of the wall behind the electrical box. Use your hammer again to drive the point of the screwdriver through the drywall to mark the place where you will cut an opening.

Step 4 – Mount Your New Electrical Box

At the spot where the point of the screwdriver came through the drywall, hold your new electrical box against the wall and draw around its edges with your pencil, making a rectangle the same size as your electrical box. Now, cut this rectangle out of the drywall, insert your electrical box, and fasten the box to the wall stud with your hammer and nails.

Step 5 – Re-attach Wires to Your Switch

Re-attach the electrical wires to your switch, using the color codes you noted on your notepad. Screw the switch and cover back in place, and turn your circuit breaker switch back on. When the light comes on, you will know you have successfully moved your light switch.