Changing Push Button Switches to Toggle Switches

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Old 07-07-10, 11:51 AM
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Changing Push Button Switches to Toggle Switches

Hi All,

My Husband and I recently moved into a 50 year old home that has all push button light switches. Since the switches are so old, sometimes you have to push the buttons many times before the lights go on or off, and sometimes they get stuck.

We'd like to switch out the push button switches for toggle switches. But we have no idea what we're doing. Does anyone know how to do this?

Thanks so much!
 
  #2  
Old 07-07-10, 12:02 PM
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First question is are they line voltage or low voltage. Open them up and tell us the wiring. I doubt push button line voltage switches were still being used in new installs 50 years ago. That is though about the time low voltage was the "in thing".

Pictures of the opened switch may help also: http://forum.doityourself.com/electr...your-post.html

Antique Line Voltage Push button Switch
<img src="https://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk116/ray2047/318MGJJ9A4L_SL500_AA300_.jpg" width="300" height="300"/>
 

Last edited by ray2047; 07-07-10 at 12:19 PM.
  #3  
Old 07-08-10, 07:58 AM
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Hi Lacey.Zane
My first question is, what type of light bulbs are in the fixtures? That will be the way to determine if it is low voltage or line voltage. If they are the standard incandescent bulbs, they are line voltage. I really doubt that a 50 yr old home will have low voltage lighting installed but if they are not the standard bulbs, let me know.

If you do have the standard incandescent bulbs, turn the light on in one of the rooms on the 1st floor (note: make sure that it is a room that has only 1 switch controlling that light) & Locate your electrical panel. Have another person go to the panel while you are in the room with the light on, & slowly turn each breaker off then on or twist out each fuse one at a time until the light in that room goes off. Once you locate that fuse or breaker, the power for that light is now disconnected. Now take out the existing push button switch but do not take any wires off of it. Confirm that there are 2 black wires connected to the "screws" of that switch. (Note: Being that the house is 50 yrs old, you may not be able to make out the color of the wire. If this is the case, have a flash light handy & go back to the panel & turn off the "main" breaker. This will disconnect the power to the entire house. When some of the homes were wired up that long ago, they were switching the neutral or white wire instead of the hot or black wire. Today that is not allowed. Without making it confusing for you I'll just say that turning off the main would be best if this is the case) If there are 2 wires connected, you can simply replace that switch with a new single pole toggle switch.

Switch replacement
With the power off, unscrew one of the screws connecting one of the wires to the switch & pull the wire off of the switch. Repeat the same to remove the 2nd wire. Once both wires are removed you can now install the new switch doing the opposite of how you took off the wires. Once you've connected both wires securely & tight to the new switch, screw that new switch to the wall box & screw the switch plate onto the switch. Now the power can be turned back on. (note: If you did turn off the "main" breaker or fuse, you will have to shut off each breaker or unscrew each fuse before you turn the main breaker back on. Once the main breaker is back on, then turn on the individual breakers or screw the individual fuses back in) There you have it.

Note: There is no need to try & remember which wire goes to which screw on a single pole switch. The switch just opens & closes the circuit therefore, they can go to either one.

I hope this helps you out. Any other questions please don't hesitate. Take care!
 
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Old 07-08-10, 10:05 AM
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Star delta I believe made several misleading assumptions in his/her post. Low voltage refers to the switching method not the type of bulb. The lights would be regular 120v bulbs. Low voltages switches were a fad that never caught on but was used in a lot of home before the use faded. Depending on the manufacturer new switches and other parts like relays may be hard to find.
 
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Old 07-08-10, 08:57 PM
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Point well taken ray2047
But if the bulb is rated 120v then that would mean that the fixture requires line voltage to operate, which would mean that a standard single pole 120v 15a switch can be used to replace the old push button type switch which is what they are trying to accomplish. Low voltage switching usually steps the voltage down by use of a transformer from the nominal 120 volts to the lower voltage.
I've replaced many of the push button type switches as well as the push button type breakers. I haven't come across a low voltage switch that controlled a 120 volt bulb. Why would it be considered low voltage switching if it outputs 120 volts to the bulb? If you connect a low voltage bulb to 120 volts it would instantly burn out because the filament isn't rated for that voltage & if you connect low voltage to a 120 volt bulb it would have a very low glow because the filament is rated for 120 volts. The voltage rating specifies the operating voltage. I've been in this industry for 20 yrs + but I don't know it all & am always willing to learn something new. Please share your thoughts & experiences. Thnx
 
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Old 07-08-10, 09:56 PM
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No. The lights were controlled by relays with low voltage coils. The switches were not standard SPST switches. In some cases thet were momentary contact switches. Here are a coupel of threads on it.

http://forum.doityourself.com/electr...old-house.html

http://forum.doityourself.com/lighti...-parts-ge.html
 
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Old 07-08-10, 11:22 PM
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Star Delta.,

I just want to make it clear what Furd post the link that have very good infomation related to the LV system and I did make few good comments in there.

Merci.
Marc
 
 

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