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Dos And Don'ts Of Installing A Dimmer Switch

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Installing dimmer switches throughout your home can be a great way to add value and functionality to any space. With a dimmer light, you get to control how bright or dim you want the lighting in the space to be, which makes it ideal for creating the perfect mood or task lighting, depending on your needs. Unless you truly know what you're doing, it's in your best interest to hire a professional electrician like G.J. Rossi & Son to install dimmers in your home. However, if you're a DIY-er with electrical experience, you may be able to install your own, so long as you follow some basic dos and don'ts.

DO Shut Off Power First

The first thing you'll need to do before you begin working on installing your dimmer switch is to shut off power to the switch you're working on by turning off the corresponding breaker. Don't rely on simply turning the existing light switch "off." Furthermore, to be absolutely sure there's no power running through the wires in your existing light switch, be sure to use a voltage tester on each wire before continuing on.

DO Check for a Ground Wire

These days, the installation of most dimmer boxes requires the presence of a grounding wire, which is typically made out of either copper or green insulated wiring. If you have an existing non-dimmer switch in place, there's a good chance that a grounding wire won't be present, so you'll have to install one yourself and connect it to a nearby electrical ground. If you don't know how to do this, it's probably in your best interest to contact a professional. Otherwise, your new dimmer may not be up-to-code and could pose a fire hazard.

DON'T Work With Aluminum Wiring

Finally, if you have an older home (more than a few decades old), check to make sure that the wiring you're working with is copper, not aluminum. Using aluminum wiring for a dimmer switch is dangerous, which is why today's electrical codes require homes to be outfitted in copper. You can tell a copper wire from an aluminum one because aluminum has a lighter grey or bluish color, whereas copper will be a dull orange color. If you have aluminum wiring in your home, it'll be necessary to contact a professional electrician to have your home's electrical system updated before you can have any dimmer switches installed throughout the spaces in your home.