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Replacing very old light switches

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by PoppyLane, 5 Oct 2013.

  1. PoppyLane

    PoppyLane

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    Hi
    I have painted the house but realise that the old light switches look dirty and dated. I would like to replace the light switch panels only and not the box as it will mean messing up the paintwork. My friend says that a whole box will have to be installed as the sizing is no longer the same and new switches screws are measured slightly different to the ones I have. The house was built in the 60's. I'd be very grateful for an opinion. Thanks. PL
     
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  3. EFLImpudence

    EFLImpudence

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    I don't think things have changed much since the sixties (although we did think it would) as far as switches are concerned.

    Difficult to tell what you have from here, though.
     
  4. Iggifer

    Iggifer

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    my house was built in the 50s and until recently I still had an original box (house was rewired in the 90s but they left one original box for some reason(

    No issues with changing faceplates for modern equivalent, sizing is all the same, I think you have to go a bit further back to find odd sized boxes, for which you can get adapters for anyway
     
  5. ban-all-sheds

    ban-all-sheds

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    If you painted the walls, I hope you took the switches off, not just painted round them.

    Before you change any, read the Wiki articles on lighting, so that you know how they are wired, and how they are labelled - this is particularly important for 2-way and 2-gang switches.

    And don't remove any wires without making a note of exactly where they went.

    Will you be sticking with plastic switches?
     
  6. Iggifer

    Iggifer

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    I HATE it when people do that, they invariably get more paint on the switch than the wall too and it's me that looks bad when the switch doesn't come off perfectly

    That being said, I was asked to change one recently that was literally flush with the newly plastered wall, it was an old Volex beast so not exactly a slimline switch, so a nice thick coat of plaster round it. I politely declined to do it
     
  7. PoppyLane

    PoppyLane

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    Yes, I'll be sticking with plastic switches.
     
  8. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    ... but remember to keep and use the old screws, which are likely to be BA rather than metric!

    Kind Regards, John
     
  9. PoppyLane

    PoppyLane

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    UPDATE: All switches have been successfully replaced - we used the old screws which was an invaluable piece of advice, as, indeed was all the advice from you all. Many thanks to you all for your helpful responses. PL
     
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  11. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    You're welcome. Glad it's all worked out!

    Kind Regards, John
     
  12. sparkwright

    sparkwright

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    Remember to keep the new screws.

    If you get a 3.5 mm re-threader tool (very cheap from electrical wholesalers) you can easily re-thread the holes and fit the new screws.
     
  13. 333rocky333

    333rocky333

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    I recall The old thread was larger so dont think threadings an option
     
  14. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    Indeed, 4BA is fractionally larger than M3.5 (about 3.6mm IIRC). So, if it's a surface box (with threaded inserts), attempting to re-thread as M3.5 would not really be on (even if it seemed to work, screws may well not be very secure). If it's a metal box with a 'lug', one could distort (squeeze) the lug first and then tap M3.5, but that would, again, be somewhat iffy.

    The OP has used the old screws. If he really wanted to change to 'shiny new' ones, I imagine that if he looked around (ebay?) it's probably still possible to find suitable 4BA screws.

    Kind Regards, John
     
  15. sparkwright

    sparkwright

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    Missed that. Going by most old imperial boxes, have been able to re-thread successfully to accept new 3.5 mm screws, but if the holes are larger then of course it can't be done.
     
  16. JohnW2

    JohnW2

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    I dare say that it can be 'done', but you'd probably be threading only into the 'tips' of the 4BA thread, hence pretty tenuous/iffy.

    Kind Regards, John
     
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