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decora switches wont work?

:confused:Hi, we bought our house 5 months ago. It was built in 1986. Almost all of the light switches have paint on them, or are that old yellow color. We decided to replace them with new decora switches. Well,we can't get them to work! I've replaced switches before, and have never had this problem. I prefer to wire them in with the side screws, but when that didn't work I tried the "push in" method. I noticed the hot wire is too large to fit in the push in space. Any ideas why they wont work? Or why my hot wiring is larger?

A. Spruce
Re: decora switches wont work?

I've run into a number of instances where the stab connectors on the back of the switch will only handle a 14g wire and nothing larger. If you've got 12g wiring, then the back stabbing method may not work.

It bears mentioning that back stabbed connections frequently fail due to arcing or poor contact. Using the screw connections is the recommended and best technique. Be sure to wrap the wire clockwise around the screw.

Why your switches are not working is interesting. On a typical one-way switch as long as you've replaced it exactly as the old switch was wired it should be fine. With three-way switches it's easy to get the wires mixed up.

Also, for safety's sake make sure you're working on a de-energized circuit (breaker off, test with volt meter to insure circuit is off ). When you're finished replacing the hardware, then you can fire the circuit back up to test your work.

Don't let this be you!

Re: decora switches wont work?

With different size wires in your description I'm guessing you have more than one cable in the box. We need to know all the wring and how you have it hooked up. It is not uncommon to find 12 ga wire used on circuits and 15 ga wire feeding lights. It's not up to code if the breaker is a 20 amp breaker.


Re: decora switches wont work?

Back stabbing with 12 gauge was outlawed quite a few years back. You'll use the side terminals only these days no matter what size wire.

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