Repairing a Multi-switch Light Fixture


Introduction: Repairing a Multi-switch Light Fixture

About: A geek traveling the world!

I acquired a hanging light fixture for an old house of mine where there was no over-head lighting (50+yrs old house) but only a hook to hang something.  The switch I always found to be a bit picky but since the power to the light was controlled by a wall-switch, I didn't worry about it too much.  I used to 'play with it' every once in awhile but really it only served to complete the 'breakdown process' that eventually killed  the switch.  So off I went to tackle this repair.

Step 1: The Patient

Here is the patience, minus the big glass bowl that sits on that ring.  I don't know much about it but it looked decent in our place and I got a chance to fix something else :)

Step 2: Tools/Parts Needed

Since I was basically gutting the lamp and swapping out for new parts, I had to buy a few things.


1/ An extension cord (or just some length of bulk cable)
2/ replacement lights (this fixture had two, one up and one below)
3/ replacement switch (4 position)
4/ Washer for makeshift wire management.


1/ Wire stripper/cutter
2/ Multi-meter
3/ Screw driver
4/ Pliers (aren't these like air?  You always need them and it's a given they are included? :)

Step 3: Secondary Issues May (read: Will!) Arise.

It seems that on top of the list of parts and tools, you should always be prepared to fix the tools you are working with, should they be of 'lesser quality'.  This light I was using for seeing in places that was being blocked by housing and such.  Well the socket where the bulb was in, seemed to be a bit wobbly, so I had to take it apart, fix this (simple enough, some electrical tape to fill in the gap) so that it didn't flicker and drive me nuts.

Step 4: Looking at the Old Connections

Seeing as the wires were all the same colour, I decided to take a picture so I knew which wire went where on reassembly.  Came in pretty handy.

Step 5: Old Socket Removed

Well, got the old piece out and in many pieces.  The whole thing was a mess.  I am glad nothing caused a fire!

Step 6: Modification Solution

Once I got the wires hooked up to the right connections, I found that this side simply would not hold the wires.  I used a washer, cut out a section, and used it to add some space filling and then everything stayed nicely into place.

Step 7: Reassemble and Test!

Got everything tucked away and light bulb put in!  Nothing blew up so I'd say this was a nice successful repair!



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    8 Discussions

    Nothing blowing up today is good, but for long term reliability you should have the hot wire connected to the hot screw of your new socket. Nothing you did guarantees that. Not even having taken a picture and wiring it how it was, because you don't know if it was right to begin with, now do you?

    The right way to have done it would have been testing the wires to ground and seeing which one had power, it is your hot wire, mark it, then wire in the new socket. No camera required!

    Now that your lamp is up you can test it by taking the bulb out, turning it on, and testing the threaded ring to ground, if it is hot it's wrong. There is an excellent chance it is right, but there is just a good a chance it is wrong, 50 50 is pretty good odds either way.

    7 replies

    Perhaps I should have prefaced this by stating that I did this work over a year ago and only now finally got around to putting up the pics/info. So all of my 'nitty-gritty' details would not have shown (such as you described). I didn't just 'guess' which wire went where :)

    Perhaps it is this that lead me to think that in your article, "Seeing as the wires were all the same colour, I decided to take a picture so I knew which wire went where on reassembly. Came in pretty handy."

    Perhaps you could explain what other method you used?

    Not really. As I said, it was a year ago and way too much as happened in my life to bother remembering little details like that. This is what happens when you try to recreate such things way after their due date :)

    Kinda funny, I usually hate skimpy details in instructions but I felt it was worth getting some of my projects that I have done, up and out. Future ones will be better detailed :)

    OK I'd like to point out that proper lamp polarization isn't a little detail though. It is important enough that socket manufacturers go of of their way to color code the screw terminals to help you get it right.

    Thanks for your input and compared to my past method, it was a little detail when put in perspective of the overall project. I've been playing with wiring and electricity for quite some time so I am aware of such things. As I already stated, this was re-created from memory and it is natural some things are left out. There is, by no means, any endorsement or implication that anyone should just 'wing it'.

    Well they have a 50 50 chance of getting it right, and it hardly even matters just so long as you remember to flip the switch off before you mess with the lamp, that is unless it is on a 4 way. Those switch the neutral. A lesson I learned the hard way :)

    AH, one of those 'last word' guys huh? Been trying to close this thread for two replies now :)

    Let's just leave this as 'I did it right and no buildings were burned'. Just didn't write down exactly what I did. And yes, I too have learned from many mistakes.