Replacing and Rewiring a Lamp

How to Rewire a Lamp and Replace a Lamp Socket.



What you will need:


1- Continuity tester (you will only need this tool if your testing).

2- Pliers

3- Small screwdriver (I would get a Philips and a Slot driver)

4- Wire stripper and cutters.

Note if you don't have all the tools here they will cost less then a new lamp and if you have them you can repair all your lamps.


The new socket

Zip cord (16 - or - 18 gauge) you will only need this if your replacing the cord.

Plug (again you will only need this if your replacing the cord)



Electrical tape


Determine the source of the problem on the lamp.

Measure the cord length needed. (only if your replacing the cord)

Choose the plug, switch and socket types you prefer and only the parts you will be replacing.

Step By Step:

1. Unplug the lamp.

2. Dismantle the lamp.

3. Replace socket, cord and plug if necessary.

4. Ressemble the lamp.


Always unplug a lamp or any electrical appliance before beginning to work, or your life will really be lite up.

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Whether it is a much needed light source or a treasured heirloom, a lamp in need of repair will not light up a room. Fortunately, lamps differ little in operation or assembly, so making repairs is a simple task. Wiring a lamp and replacing the socket, for example, will take you less than an hour. I received a request from a person needing to repair her lamp as she didn’t want to replace it. This page will go through the steps of rewiring and replacing the socket.

To determine what is wrong with the lamp, check the light bulb, plug and receptacle first. Is the lamp unplugged? Has the bulb burned out? Does another lamp work in the same receptacle?

Nest, check the cord and plug for fraying, splits or cracks. If both seem fine, then the problem may be the socket or its switch. You can use a continuity tester to find the effect, or just replace the questionable parts. Lamp parts are standard and can be purchased inexpensively at hardware stores.

Frayed or split cords are a hazard and should be replaced. Lamp cord in 16 or 18 gauge is the only type of cord used in lamps. This flat cord contains two copper wires housed in clear or colored plastic insulation. It is also called zip cord, because the insulation is grooved between the wires so they can be pulled apart easily.
Zip cord is sometimes coded so that you know which wire goes where. On some, half of the cord is smooth, and the other half is ridges. The smooth half is the positive or “hot” wire, which is attached to the brass screw in the socket and to the smaller prong in the plug. The ridged half is neutral and is wound around the silver screw in the socket and larger prong in the plug. Other zip cords are coded with stripes rather than ridges; still others have one brass wire and one silver-colored wire.

Rewiring kits contain all the materials necessary to rewire a lamp. However, if the lamp previously required an extension cord because its cord was to short, make the new cord longer so an extension cord is not needed. If you need a longer cord, you may need to purchase the cord and other components separately. When buying zip cord, remember to allow for the length of cord that is inside the lamp base. It’s always better to buy a few extra feet of wire than find out you don’t have enough to finish the job right.
Loose wires in a plug or a broken plug require repair. Screw terminal plugs are stronger and better for lamps that are unplugged often. Simple quick connect plugs are an option if the lamp stays in one location.

The device into which the light bulb is screwed is called a lamp socket. Sockets are usually made of brass or aluminum. If you need to replace the socket only, use a socket that has the same amp and volt ratings as those marked on the side of the old socket. Note too that a one-way socket can be replaced by a three-way if you prefer.


Types of Sockets.

type of lamp sockets.

The socket switch, or mechanism that turns on the light, can usually be easily replaced with any of four different types. Socket sizes and method of installation are standard, so that you can choose the mechanism that you prefer: From top a push button; a pull chain; a socket operated from a line switch' a twist knob. You can also use a three way socket it will usually have a twist knob.

Testing and Rewiring a Lamp:

Rewiring lamp 1

After unplugging the lamp and removing the bulb, shade and harp arms, if necessary, scrape the contact tab and bend it up slightly with a screwdriver. Replace the bulb, plug the lamp in and test.


Rewiring lamp 2

If the lamp does not light, unplug the lamp and remove the bulb again. Press the side of the socket marked "press" to remove the shell. Slide off the insulating sleeve. If the sleeve is worn or cracked, replace the socket.

Rewiring lamp 3

Check wires for tightness at contact screws and retest lamp. If the lamp still does not light, remove socket from the socket cap by loosening contact screws, noting where each wire is attached. Inspect cord for cracked or frayed insulation.

Rewiring lamp 4

Place the alligator clip of a continuity tester on the plug ends and touch both wires with the probe to test further for cord damage. If the tester does not light, replace the cord.

Rewiring lamp 5

Partially peel the felt pad from the lamp base. Untie the underwriter's knot on the cord in socket cap and attach a long string to the cord with electrical tape; pull old cord out through the base, keeping the end of the string from slipping past the socket cap into the lamp.

rewiring lamp 6

Detach the old cord and attach the new cord to the string at the lamp base with electrical tape. Pull the string to guide the new cord up through the lamp to the socket location. Always pull extra.

Replacing a Socket:

Replacing socket 1

Before attaching the new socket, split the first 2 inches of cord by snipping with the nipper on the wire stripper, then pulling the two sections gently apart.

Replacing socket 2

With the wire stripper, bare about 5/8 inch of wire by stripping off the insulation. Slip the new socket cap over the wire. Tighten the set screw to fasten the cord.

replacing socket 3

Tie an Underwriter's knot to prevent the wires from pulling off the terminal screws.

Replacing socket 4

On the new socket, remove insulating sleeve. Wind the positive wire clockwise around the brass screw. Wind the neutral wire clockwise around the silver screw. Tighten screws; replace insulating sleeve and outer shell.

Replacing socket 5

After attaching a new quick connect prong plug or flat cord plug to the cord hot to brass, neutral to silver, as with the socket replace the bulb, harp arms and shade. Reglue the felt pad to the base of the lamp. Plug in the lamp to test.

Keys to Success:

As you disassemble the lamp, note how the parts go together. Make a sketch to help you reassemble it in the right order.

Sockets are made of either brass or aluminum. Choose the metal that will be most unobtrusive on your lamp.

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