Whether it’s a simple table lamp that needs a new cord or a porcelain specimen that needs repair, a little time spent with the right tools and parts can bring your favorite fixture back to life.
Lamps aren’t cheap, but they can be an inexpensive way to add a touch of style and sophistication to your home. While you can often fix minor issues yourself, rewiring lamps that are especially fragile or antique requires specialized expertise and care.
The first step is to locate the lamp’s wiring. Use a multimeter and test indicator needle to check for continuity. Place one of the tester probes on the brown or blue connector prongs of the plug, and the other on the spring terminal inside the bulb holder. If you can see any connection between the wires, tighten them securely before moving on to rewire your lamp.
Next, disconnect the old cord by pulling it through the bottom of the lamp base and out of the top. You may need to trim off some of the end length, but you want enough slack to work with.
If the end of the cord is covered with cloth, wrap it in electrical tape to keep it from fraying. Then, cut the old wire off with a pair of wire strippers, and use scissors to trim it another quarter to half inch. Then, snip the cloth covering at the ends to expose the wires underneath.
You can also buy a pre-made replacement cord to help you out. This will save you a lot of time, but it’s important to ensure the wires are the same color and that they fit together properly.
Once you have a cord that fits your lamp, remove the old socket cap and replace it with the new one. This should be the easiest part of the process, but if you’re not sure how to get the old socket off or where the screw for the cap attaches, consult a professional lamp technician or ask for advice online.
If your lamp is a socket-style lamp, remove the old lamp body and bulb socket. You can usually just twist the socket shell off its base (Photos 1 and 2), but if it’s stubborn, you might need to pry it out with a flathead screwdriver or other tool.
It’s also a good idea to examine the screw that holds the socket base to the threaded tube that runs down through the body of the lamp. If it’s rusted, loose or doesn’t match the other parts of the lamp, it’s likely time for a new socket and cord.
When rewiring a lamp, you’ll need to find the neutral wire. This wire is often a different color than the hot wire or may have printing on it or tiny ribs or indentations on its plastic cover. It’s also a good idea to check the plug blades to ensure that they’re of equal width.
You can often find sockets and cords at home centers and hardware stores. For hard-to-find lamp parts, check with a lamp repair store or an electrician. You can also purchase lamp parts online.