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How to Rewire a Broken Lamp in 6 Steps

Old lamps can stop working – but don’t throw them away just yet. A safe and fun DIY electrical project, rewiring a lamp is easy and inexpensive and can help you save an old, favorite lighting piece in your home.

1. Buy the Necessary Parts

First, you’re going to need to determine exactly what replacements the lamp needs. Thoroughly inspect the lamp to find any damaged parts, and if in doubt, a hardware store can examine it for you and provide you with all the necessary replacement parts. You will also need a screwdriver and a wire stripper.

2. Disassemble the Lamp

Remove the lampshade and bulb. The component that the bulb screws into is called the “socket shell.” Remove it from the socket – these are rarely screwed into place, and it may be possible to simply pop it off.

The socket comes apart one more time: removing the bottom of the socket (called the “socket cap”) reveals the wires in something called an underwriter’s knot. If needed, take a picture of this knot (and the two connections to the silver and brass screws) before disassembling.

3. Remove the Wiring

Once disassembled with wires exposed, you can unscrew the silver and brass screws holding the wires in place, and pull them through the bottom of the lamp.

4. Run the New Wiring into the Lamp

With your new cord and wiring from the hardware store, run the wire back up through the lamp, so it’s exactly like the old one. Once you pull the cord through the very top, run it through the socket cap (either the old one, or the new one if replacing). A brand new cord will have two wires connected all the way to the end; pull them apart about two inches.

5. Strip the Wires and Connect to the Socket

Using a wire stripper, strip about half an inch off each wire. At this point, you’ll need to re-tie that underwriter’s knot from earlier (make sure you’ve already run the cord through the socket cap). If you are unsure how to make this knot, a brief tutorial can be found here.

Next, make a loop in each exposed wire, and connect the “hot” wire to the brass screw, and the “neutral” wire to the silver screw. You can tell which is which because the neutral wire will have ribs on the coating. Tighten the screws.

6. Reassemble and Test the Lamp

In the same manner as disassembly, simply reassemble the lamp (using new replacement parts as needed). Test the lamp, and you’re done!

If your lamp still does not work, go back through the steps and ensure the connections are tight (and on the correct terminals). By rewiring it yourself, you can even change the style of the lamp, the type of switch, and even add a “three-way” option for an intermediate brightness.


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