Before you learn how to rewire a lamp, it’s a good idea to learn about the key parts within a typical working lamp in your home . A lamp’s wiring is only part of the puzzle. Other parts such as the bulb socket, switch and cord are also involved. Often, it’s a good idea to replace these if you’re just trying to fix a broken lamp or if you’re installing a lamp dimmer.
Nevertheless, when it comes time to connect wires and put it all together, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. This article shows you how to make this type of repair, plus some lamp rewiring tips.
Lamp wiring parts
These instructions are going to assume that you’re actually replacing a bad light socket or switch in a lamp. Now, you simply want to learn how to rewire the lamp. As such, let’s assume you’ve already
purchased a new socket and wiring (cord) for your lamp from the store. This will come with some kind of switch; either a knob that you turn, a rod that you push, or a pull-type (cord-mounted) switch. As far as the lamp’s concerned, it doesn’t matter what you replace it with, so long as it works!
The lamp’s socket will always have a cover (outer shell), which goes over an insulating sleeve. Both of these will slide and sit over the socket body, with notches for the switch or knob. Directly below this is where the lamp’s wiring comes in. Termed an “underwriter’s” knot (see photo), the wiring will sit on top of the socket cap or base. Below that is where the lamp cord comes in through a threaded tube. Now, let’s see how to rewire a lamp starting with removing the parts just described.
Rewiring your lamp
Here are the steps to take on how to rewire a lamp. It may seem obvious, but always make sure you first unplug the lamp’s cord from the wall. You’ll need some steady hands, a wire-cutter, screwdriver and a new bulb for your newly wired lamp when you’re all done.
- First, pry the socket shell from the base with a small regular screwdriver. Some lamps will actually make it easier by just letting you pull it off. You’ll know this if you see the word “PRESS” somewhere on the shell.
- Now, pull off both the shell and the insulating sleeve.
- Next, disconnect the socket from the wiring by loosening the terminal screws holding the wiring in place.
- Then, remove the base or cap simply by turning it counter-clockwise until it comes off.
- Take your new wires (they may be black and white colored or transparent yellow) and tie an underwriter’s knot as shown as right. Do this about 1″ from the end of the cord. The idea of knotting these lamp wires is to relieve any
strain that may occur should the wires get pulled or tugged. This will prevent the wires from coming loose on the screw terminals. This is never good, especially when there is electricity involved. An electrical shock can occur.
- Now, make your connections by twisting or bending the bare wire ends clockwise around the terminal screw.How to wire the lamp correctly?
IMPORTANT: Connect what’s called the neutral wire to the silver screw and the “hot” wire to the brass screw.
- When wires are secure, replace the insulating and outer shells. Plug in, add a bulb and turn on the lamp to test it.
As you replace the outer shells, make sure that the socket body they go over is connected to the white neutral wire. This helps to keep the lamp’s metal parts safe for users. The insulation for the neutral wire in a two-wire lamp cord will be made with little ridges, or some other kind of mark. If your cord is see-through, then the neutral wire is the silver one.
A great tip is to tape the new cord to your old one just before you pull the old cord up and out of the lamp assembly. This makes it so when you pull the old one out, the new one can feed right into place.
If you’re going to the trouble of repairing a lamp with a new socket and wiring, you can splurge and get a nifty little dimmer for it. This dimmer switch for lamps is great because it lets you dim the lamp right on the switch itself, and requires no extra wiring. You must use an incandescent bulb with a lamp dimmer – compact fluorescent bulbs will not dim. It’s nice because you don’t have to use 3-way bulbs, which can be expensive over time and only give you three settings. The lamp dimmer would give you any light intensity you want. Suddenly, you have a wonderful new reading lamp for your home, which you rewired all by yourself!