Fixing Home Lamps


Introduction: Fixing Home Lamps

About: Electrical Engineer, control systems, automation, small electronics, home automation, microcontrollers etc.

Everyone comes across a lamp in their house that is buggy.  The slightest bump to it will turn it on and off and cause lots of frustration.  Over the years I've discovered it is very easy to change a new lamp socket and save lots of $$ doing it.  

You can stop by your local hardware or hobby shop and pick up a new lamp socket for just a few bucks.  I usually have a couple of spares laying around for when i need them.  

You can see in the image how only a few parts make up the main socket.  Start with screwing the entire socket off.  This can be tricky some times because it involved twisting the cable as you screw it, which starts to build up tension.  Just be careful not to over-turn it.  Then the bottom cap pulls right off (some times its a little snug).  Then all you have are two screws holding the wires in place.  MAKING SURE THE WIRE IS NOT PLUGGED INTO THE WALL, you can unscrew them from the old socket.  Replace a new socket making sure the ribbed wire is connected to the negatives screw (most times the positive screw is golden, just check before you remove them from the old socket).  

Once the wires are securely fastened on the new socket you can replace the cap on the bottom and put the rest of the lamp back together. 

Easy and Cheap way to fix any lamp in your house.

I have uploaded two illustrations found online that provide a quality break down of the parts.

Original Illustration Credits:



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    6 Discussions

    This is a helpful instructable. I've been thinking of doing an instructable on this for a while.

    a couple notes.
    1. when working with polarized plugs you will want to identify the hot and neutral wires so that they're attached correctly to the socket. This is normally pretty easy. The neutral wire has ribs on it. The neutral is screwed to the silver terminal on the socket and the hot is screwed to the gold terminal.

    2. The knot that you tie in the wire under the socket is called an "underwriters knot". It's a little different than what you did. the knot keeps the wire from being pulled off the socket and shocking someone if the cord is pulled. you can see the correct knot on the wiring diagram image.

    3. one thing that i like to do is to wrap electrical tape around the socket a few times before covering the socket with the sleeve. The cardboard insulator should protect the wiring but the cardboard wil become old and brittle over time. I like adding a little extra protection against shocks.

    4. when replacing a socket, i normally replace the plug and wire at the same time especially with older lamps.

    3 replies

    Thank you for your contribution. Those are some good notes. To comment back(corresponding with your numbers):

    1. This is all correct. I mentioned that the ground wire is usually ribbed. and the hot wire goes to the gold terminal. My typical rule of thumb is to check which was where before i disconnect the old one

    2. On mine there are actually two knots. One knot directly below the socket, and then another inside the lamp itself. The one inside the lamp is the one you referred to, keeping someone from pulling the cable off the socket terminals and making a shorted connection

    3. Sounds like a good idea, but has it ever caused an issue with fitting the socket back over top of the electrical tape?

    4. It's never a bad idea to replace both. I usually only have the sockets laying around so I don't replace the wiring, but I definitely check the wiring to make sure there are no exposed sections

    Thanks again for your contribution.

    1. technically speaking there is a hot wire and a neutral. If the wires were colored the neutral is white and the hot is black. The ground wire is something different. You can use the existing wiring only if the existing wire is polarized with the different size plug prongs, and even then you can't count on it being connected correctly especially with older lamps. Incandescent bulbs don't care which way the current flows so being polarized wasn't an issue. It's only with newer bulbs (CFL, LED's, etc) that it becomes an issue.

    2. 2 knots is a good idea. just want to make sure that the knot won't work loose. if you look at the diagram photo that you have, the knot is tied a little differently that what you did in the photo.

    3. the taping is a tip that i got from a home improvement show years ago and have been doing it ever since. i think that what it is really trying to do is to keep the wire "tails" from ever touching the shell causing a shock. i only wrap 2 or three times, fairly tightly, making sure that the tape is smooth and have never had a problem with putting the shell back on. i also do this when I'm installing an outlet plug or wall switch.

    this is one of my lamp projects:

    1. I agree, but I don't think i've ever seen color-coated wires on lamps. They're usually 2 conductor side-by-side cable where neutral is either ribbed or has a pin-stripe line down the side. And I'm aware of the ground/neutral difference, i have a bad habit of interchanging the two terms when I'm working with only hot and neutral :\

    2. Yea, I didn't follow that diagram when I was doing it, i just added that illustration for viewers to get a better idea of the breakdown of the parts

    3. Sounds good, I'll have to keep it in mind next time I'm fixing one

    It's OK to use googled images to add detail to your work, but where are the images you produced yourself?

    1 reply

    I've uploaded my own images after the illustrations. I'm sure if you google search "Lamp Socket" you will find the illustrations I have included, but I don't just do that. These illustrations can be found at two sites I am often on. The first being Webster's Visual dictionary, which is an incredibly useful visual dictionary. The second being a DIY home improvement website which offers quality advice on any repairs or modifications you may be doing on your home. I found both to provide quality illustrations for what I find myself doing quite often, so I included them with my explanation and personal images, along with providing the necessary credit for both.