An Easy Electrical Repair – Fixing a Broken Lamp
If you have a table or standard lamp with a flickering light or one that does not come on at all – don’t despair! Fixing it is a relatively simple electrical repair that you can undertake at home as long as you take sensible safety precautions.
Check bulb and outlet
The first step is to check if the problem is that the bulb has burned out. Try replacing the bulb and see if that works. If not, unplug the lamp and try it in a different outlet to find out if the fault lies within the outlet itself.
Check for loose connection or damage to cord
If that does not solve the problem, carefully examine the cord to see if it is damaged or frayed and tug it gently to check for a loose connection. For a loose connection in the plug, open it up and reattach the wire or wires. Always wind the wire clockwise round a screw terminal so that tightening the screw also tightens the wire. Make sure the neutral wire is attached to the wider prong on a polarized plug. The neutral wire is commonly ridged or ribbed. If you are not sure which wire is which, it is safer to consult a professional as connecting the wires incorrectly creates a shock hazard.
For damage to the cord near to the plug, you can either cut the cord and rewire the plug or replace the whole cord. These days cords often come with a plug already wired in, which will save you some trouble. Take care to wire in the new cord correctly as described above.
Replacing socket or fitting new cord
If you have identified the source of the problem as within the lamp socket, you will have to take the lamp apart. The most important step before you start to dismantle the lamp, is make sure it is unplugged. Remove the shade, the bulb and the harp, that is the metal wire that supports the shade. In theory, the socket shell should come out if you press it in at the sides and pull upwards, but you may need to use a screwdriver to prize it out. Then unscrew the socket base to expose the terminals.
If you find a loose connection, that is easily fixed. If not, you will need to replace the socket. Note which wire is connected to which terminal as you separate the cord from the socket. If you are fitting a new socket to an existing cord, it is advisable to cut off the bare ends of the wires and use wire strippers to remove about 1/2inch of the insulation to expose fresh wire, as this will make a better connection. Connect the hot wire to the brass screw on the socket and the neutral wire to the silver screw.
When fitting a new cord, you will have to thread the cord though the lamp base and up through the central column. Make sure the new cord is protected by a grommet at the point it enters the lamp base as any sharp edges can easily cut in to the cord’s casing.
Replace the socket in its housing and reassemble the other parts of the lamp. Plug it in, switch it on and see if your work has been successful. If it hasn’t, take the lamp apart again and check all your connections. Remember to unplug it again first. If you still have a problem, or are unsure of how best to proceed, get professional help from a licensed electrician. If it works, you can congratulate yourself on an electrical repair well done.