Switch Replacement

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Old 04-20-12, 10:41 AM
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Question Switch Replacement

I just recently moved into an older house (built in the 70's i believe). Many of the light switches have been painted over so I'd like to replace all of them (about 25) with decora-style switches to make it seem a bit more modern. My question is whether I need to ground the switches. It looks like all the switches are in plastic boxes. Some of the boxes have bare copper wire (ground?) twisted together like . Other switches have no groundwire in the box.
 
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Old 04-20-12, 10:53 AM
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With plastic boxes all grounds need to be tied together and pigtailed to the switch.
 
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Old 04-20-12, 11:10 AM
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Yes, the new switches shall be connected to an equipment grounding conductor per NEC 404.9. You will need to attach two bare conductors—in this case--to all existing bare copper conductors in your switch box<<<This will make the connection continuous as required per NEC 250.148. Note: the two bare conductors will be two pieces of bare copper. Each piece will be around 6-8 inches long, and can be attached using a wire nut sized to handle the size and number of conductors involved. We call the two pieces of conductor, “pigtails”. Use a pigtail based on the largest size ungrounded conductor in the box. In most cases a #14AWG will do for lighting, but I’ve seen them as large as a #12AWG. If you can’t tell, then check the breaker. If the breaker is a 15A, then use #14AWg, if 20A, then use #12. Hopefully the circuit is sized per code (Different topic). You will then attach the bare copper conductor to the green screw on your switch. One conductor (pigtail) for each switch.
 
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Old 04-20-12, 11:54 AM
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Sorry SeaOn, but I'm pretty new to this.

So I would need to add two pigtails and wirenut them to the big spindle of grounds in the box already?

What about the plastic boxes which have no visible ground? These seem to be only located at the boxes which control outlets (for lamps).
 
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Old 04-20-12, 04:48 PM
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Sorry SeaOn, but I'm pretty new to this.

So I would need to add two pigtails and wirenut them to the big spindle of grounds in the box already?
Correct!!!
What about the plastic boxes which have no visible ground? These seem to be only located at the boxes which control outlets (for lamps).
You can install the new switch without the equipment ground. Just note: If the switches are installed—where no equipment grounding conductor exist--you should provide nonconducting, noncombustible face plates, or you should protect the switches using a GFCI receptacle. Code states that the nonconductive noncombustible material shall be used if the switch is located within reach of earth, grade, conducting floors, or other conducting surfaces.

Also, no need to apologize!! I appreciate that you acknowledged my response!! Also, answering questions help me stay sharp!!
 
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Old 04-20-12, 07:30 PM
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What about the plastic boxes which have no visible ground? These seem to be only located at the boxes which control outlets (for lamps).
To make receptacles (outlets for lamps) supplied by wiring which does not include an equipment grounding conductor (an EGC, or "ground") both safe and code compliant, there are several options. One is to install a GFCI receptacle at the first location in each string and to connect the wires feeding the rest of the string to the LOAD terminals of the GFCI. Another is to run a new EGC from the panel to each string, and then to each receptacle in that string. There are more, but these are the most commonly employed ones - especially the GFCI installation.

Free advice: One of these upgrades is required before modern 3-slot receptacles can be installed.
 
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