I'm replacing my 3 way light switch and noticed that there is no ground screw on the existing light switch and the bare ground wire is just tucked in the back of the plastic switch box.

My new switch has a ground screw. Should I connect the ground wire to the screw or just leave the ground wire unconnected like it was? Does it make any impact at all?

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    "Do you have metal or plastic boxes.?" @JimStewart Does this answer your question: "bare ground wire is just tucked in the back of the plastic switch box.bare ground wire is just tucked in the back of the plastic switch box."
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 9 at 12:13
  • Modern light switches can be grounded so go ahead and do it. The original switches in our 1970 built house had no attachment screw for grounding even though all the original receptacles did. I think there is very little shock risk from ungrounded switches as long as they are covered with the ususal insulating faceplates. But metallic faceplates can only be used on grounded switches. Switches installed in metal boxes are presumably grounded to the box although at least one end must be free of an insulating fiber screw keeper. Commented Feb 10 at 1:21

1 Answer 1


Grounding means on switches have only been required by electrical codes fairly recently, so there are untold millions of ungrounded switches still in service. By all means, attach the equipment ground wire to the switch grounding screw. It may provide some benefit in some theoretical future scenario, assuming the ground wire in the box is actually connected to a grounding system "upstream".

  • And, if the grounding wire isn't connected to anything at the other end, it still provides that false sense of security that so many are looking for today.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 9 at 12:17
  • Great thanks for the insight :) I guess it'll just be a "why not" thing, even if the grounding wire was never set up properly
    – Frank
    Commented Feb 9 at 15:14
  • ...go look at the other end of the cable.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Feb 9 at 15:52
  • Easy way to check ground if there is a neutral in the box is to check continuity between ground and neutral. If continuity present, then almost certainly there is a good ground. Also plug an extension cord into a receptacle with a known good ground or one on a different circuit. Check for continuity between the ground wire in the switch box and the ground in the female end of the extension cord. Could put tape over the hot slot (or both hot and neutral) so you don''t put VOM probe in wrong place. Commented Feb 9 at 16:33

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