I've been changing out the light switches in my house. None of them have been grounded even though there is a ground wire present. What would be the proper way to ground the new switches to the existing bare wires? Also how would I be able to tell if those ground wires are grounded correctly?

Here is a picture of how the switches are currently. enter image description here

  • 1
    I'm cringing at all of that over-stripped exposed wire poked into the backstabs...
    – brhans
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 21:17
  • Me too. That's a lot of copper showing.
    – Trout
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 22:48
  • Hopefully your new switches have a ground screw. Those old 79 cent ones apparently didn't. And they never put a wire nut on the grounds. Saving money at the expense of safety. Must have been a corporate job.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 1:06
  • Definitely will be trimming the wires when putting the new switches in. Pretty sure the job was done by the previous owner who just happens to be in construction. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 7:11
  • The grounds have a crimp that used to be required in the county I worked no wire nuts back then. I agree on with other comments on the over stripped back stabs being dangerous, but I think back stabs should be outlawed.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


Clean all the crud out of the box. Remove the current switches. Cut the 'strip length' to just at a half inch. Pull the ground package out to be workable. Get two lengths of #14 bare solid about 8" long. Wire nut them into the existing ground package. Connect new ground wires to new switches on ground screws. Plug in circuit wires. Using care to dress wires to separate bare wires from live surfaces, install switches and plate.

  • Does it need to be 14 gauge or is 12 fine? Also will be wrapping screws on the new switches with electrical tape. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 7:13
  • 14 AWG is a lot easier to work with than #12, but if the other wires are #12 then that probably means this is on a 20-A breaker and you should use #12 for the pigtails. Many lighting circuits are on 15-A breakers and so require only #14 wire. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 12:40
  • Back stabs are 14 awg I don't think I have ever seen a 12 awg back stab. Unless wego connectors and I only use those for florescent and led lighting because of the low current draw. I only wrap tape around devices if in a metal box.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 14:56
  • I only asked about the wire gauge because Home Depot has this homedepot.com/p/…. It beats having to buy 50 feet of wire :-) Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 17:43
  • Any electrical supply and (I thought) most big-box will sell you wire by the foot. Also, stop buying at big box - their prices are not that good and their advice is dangerous. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 21:58

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