Don't replace your lamp. Fix it!

How to Fix a Lamp

by Benjamin Roussey

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Lamps come in all shapes and sizes and can add a touch of charm and elegance to any space. There are many reasons why a lamp would stop working. A malfunctioning bulb or a damaged socket, plug, or worn cord could be causing some of the problem. In most cases, you do not need to replace the whole lamp. A simple, inexpensive repair can keep you from shopping for a new lamp. Take a look at how to fix a lamp on your own.

Tools and Materials Required

The tools required are simple and you'll likely have most of them. At most, you'll need a flat and a Phillips screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, and a pair of wire cutters. If you have a volt/ohm meter, that's helpful, but not necessary.

The materials required are also simple and fairly inexpensive. You may need some or all of them depending on what's wrong with your lamp. The light bulb screws into a socket. Sockets are made for a one-way or three-way bulb. The connection is the same for either. A cord connects the lamp socket to the outlet plug. That's it. You can buy the parts at any hardware store or home center.

Identifying the Problem

Begin by visually inspecting the parts. If the cord has been disconnected from the socket or plug, it will be easy to spot. A bad socket will often have burnt marks where the bulb contacts the socket. If you're unsure you can begin by replacing the socket.

Replacing the Socket

First of all, unplug the lamp from the power source. Practice safety first.

Remove anything that blocks you from the socket, such as shades, globes, etc. Next remove the socket from the lamp. You may need to remove a set screw that holds the socket in place. The socket will be attached to the line cord by screws on the bottom of the socket. Notice that one is silver colored and the other gold. Pay attention to which side of the line cord is attached to which color. Loosen the screws and remove the wire.

If you're just replacing the socket, attach the proper side of the line cord to the proper colored side of the new socket. Hook the wire around the screw so that it's pulled tight as you tighten the screw. Make sure that there are no loose wire strands. Reattach the socket and you're back in business.

Replacing the Plug and Line Cord

If the plug is damaged, you'll need to replace it and the line cord. That means snaking a new cord through the body of the lamp. A lamp, especially floor lamps, will have a small tube within the lamp that acts as a guide for the cord. Measure the length of the old cord (including what's inside the lamp) before you buy a replacement cord.

Once you've run the cord through the lamp body, tie a knot in it above the lamp and below the socket. Then connect the cord to the socket. You may need to strip some insulation from the wire. Wire cutters will do the job, but a knife will work, too. Finally reattach the socket.

Appreciate Your Work

You've just saved your lamp for just a few dollars and in a few minutes!

Reviewed May 2017

Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA, and grew up doing all varieties of home improvement projects around the home since his parents did not hire contractors or outside help to maintain their home or vehicles. As a result, he has acquired a multitude of home handyman skills in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and everything in between. He also has two Masters degrees and he served four years in the U.S. Navy.

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