Electricity: Repairing Lamps and Cords

Lighting Direct

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Rewiring a Lamp

Rewiring a Lamp

When a lamp goes kaput, it’s often easier to replace the three working parts—the socket, switch and cord -- rather than trying to diagnose and fix the actual problem.

Most sockets, like the one shown, have a switch inside, but stores carry parts for cord-mounted switches as well. You can install a switched cord in a lamp that originally had a socket switch and vice versa.

Caution : The screw shell must be connected to the neutral wire, which is connected to the wide prong on two-wire polarized plugs. This keeps any metal parts of the lamp safe to touch and operate. The insulation for the neutral wire in a two-wire lamp cord will be identified with ribbed lines, a sharp ridge or another marking. If the cord is transparent, the neutral wire is silver.
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1. Unplug the lamp. Pry the socket shell out of the base with a small screwdriver. Disconnect socket from cord by loosening screw teminals. Remove the base by turning it counterclockwise. Screw on a new socket base and feed a new cord up through the lamp body.

2. Tie an Underwriter’s knot about 1 in. (2.5 cm) from the end of the cord. This strain relief knot prevents tugs on the cord from pulling the wires loose from the screw terminals, which could create a shock hazard.

3. To make each connection, gently twist wire strands together to form a more solid wire. Then wrap the wire clockwise around the terminal screw. Connect the neutral wire to the silver screw and the hot wire to the brass screw. Reassemble and test lamp.

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Wiring Plugs

Replace older plugs with bent, corroded or loose prongs, or plugs missing their insulating faceplates. Also replace damaged plugs when the ground prong is broken or has been cut off. Closely match the replacement plug to the original plug. Older two-prong plugs, though, should always be replaced with polarized two-prong plugs that have one wider prong. Most new plugs preclude the need to use the strain-relief Underwriter’s knot.
Polarized two-prong plug. The identified neutral cord wire connects to the silver screw in the wide-prong plug and the silver screw on the lamp socket. The wide prong connects to the neutral slot in the receptacle.

Two-prong plug. Remove cord jacket and strip wire insulation. Connect white wire to silver screw and black wire to brass screw. Assemble the plug body and tighten the cord clamp.

Three-prong plug. Strip wire insulation. Connect white wire to silver screw, black to brass screw and ground wire to green screw. Assemble the plug body and tighten the cord clamp.  

Last modified: Saturday, 2007-11-03 1:20 PST