Removing a light switch

My parents have their TV/VCR etc. plugged into an outlet regulated by a single-pole light switch. They leave it on all the time so as not to erase VCR programming and such.

Recently they’ve started having someone come in to clean the house, and the crew simply can’t understand not to touch that switch. So I’ve been called in to remove the switch and replace it with a blank faceplate.

Googling pulls up all sorts of DIY pages on how to replace a switch, but I’m having a hell of a time finding out how to remove one.

From what I understand, there are just two wires connecting to the switch (behind the faceplate), so I should shut down the power to that room, remove the whole switch, twist those two bare ends together, wrap with electrical tape, and screw on the blank faceplate. I just want some assurance from someone more expert than I that I won’t be causing a short and burning down my inheritance.

In general, you’ve got it right. I, however, would go the extra step and join the two wires together with a Wire nut. It’ll meet code better and is less likely to spark & cause a fire.

Make sure you get one appropriate to hour house’s wiring - usually 14 or 12 guage.

Have you actually looked at the wires going into and out of the switch. If there are ONLY two wires attached to it then yes, that’s what you’ll do. The only change I would make is to use a wire nut, not electrical tape.

A simpler way would be to go to a hardware store and get a little lockout thingie. It’s a small peice of plastic. You remove a screw, thread the screw through the plastic thingie, and back into the plate. The plastic piece keeps the switch from moving. This way if your parents ever rearrange they can still put a lamp or something else there.

Hmm. Messed up the link. Picture

Little plastic lock thingie

I know our Ace Hardware carries them right by the checkout.

A common low-tech solution is to put a piece of tape over the switch toggle, emblazoned with “Do not turn off”.

Go with the switch lock. My folks lived in an apartment with a similar situation and it was an ideal solution. Much better than the masking tape my Dad had applied.

In our house, all the outlets that are controlled by wall switches are just the top socket of the pair. Are they using both of the pair, and are they both controlled by the switch? Our house is fairly new, built 11 years ago, so older homes might not have this feature.

You think we haven’t tried that?

This is… 20 years old I believe. I’m sure the switch controls the entire outlet all around the house.

Another possible solution which doesn’t even require a trip to the hardware store - Place both wires attached to the switch under the same terminal. The circuit will always be on regardless of the switch position and it can easily be changed back to normal operation. Also, you won’t have a switch lock or blank plate looking out of place on the wall.

This sounds like a better solution on the surface, but in ten years or so it will just be, “the switch that doesn’t work anymore.” At least with the other solution you know what is going on. It definitely is the easiest way though.

But as soon as you remove the switch plate to fix it you’ll say “That’s why this switch doesn’t work! Some half-wit wired it wrong! Hey, why’d the TV just go off?” :smiley:

If I understand you correctly, your solution is to put both wires under the same screw terminal? If so, that isn’t the safest thing to do.
How about disconnecting one wire and then connecting it to the backwire terminal of the wire that is connected to the screw terminal?
Either that or how about disconnecting the wires from the switch, join them with a wire nut and then replace the unconnected switch and cover plate? Personally, I think a switch looks a lot better than just a cover plate.
Good luck Mathochist

Thanks. Digging in the basement (too bad I’m not in archaeology… I could get a paper out of it) I found a wire nut and blank faceplate. The wire nut plan is what I’m going with rather than alternatives to replacing the switch with a plate since – and I find myself saying this with a lot of the jobs I’m doing for them this summer – I just work here, boss.

You can just unhook the wires from the switch and connect them together with a wirenut, tuck them back into the box and put the unwired switch and cover back in place. Unless you have a shallow box there is enough room to do this.

This is the right way to do it. If you had a pro come in, I believe this is what you would get. I also suggest writing a little note on the back of the faceplate indicating which outlet these wires control.

And if there is a bare wire connected to a green terminal on the switch you can just tuck that back into the box too. Of course if it’s a metal box and there is a terminal that allows connection of the bare wire to the box it’s a good idea to do that.

Again, I was told to replace with a blank faceplate and I’m doing exactly that. I just work here, boss.

“Do not turn off or we will not pay you.”

I wouldn’t want someone that stupid in my house.