How to Rewire a Lamp Correctly (EASY STEPS!)

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Rewiring an old lamp is more about safety than aesthetics and getting it to work. Sometimes, you will need to rewire a lamp you just bought. The good thing about electricity is how analog it is. If the power does not get there, no light will come on. Before rewiring a lamp, you have to get some things right, and that is why we are here to show you how to rewire a lamp. We will start with everything you need to know before you rewire a lamp and walk you through the process to get the lap lighting in no time.

Before Rewiring a Lamp

You can not always conclude rewiring a lamp every time the light bulb flickers or the lamp goes off. There could be other reasons causing the lamp to behave in such a manner. So you have to inspect the lamp and see where the problem is coming from. Check if the connections are right. The trick is always to follow the signal path, and the good thing is that most lamps have similar wiring regardless of age.

Check if the bulb is working before you pull the whole lamp apart. If the bulb is flickering, there could be a problem with the bulb or the lamp. You have to confirm. If you have an extra bulb, try it on and see if it works before you pick up the screw driver.

Next, you need to check the connections and ensure everything is right. If the connection is faulty, it could lead to the lamp not working. For instance, my dog pulled the wire from the socket to the lamp, and the wire got loose. I did not need to rewire the whole lamp for that.

If the lamp is connected to a faulty socket, it might be time to try a different spot or change the socket. Getting a new socket can solve most of your problems. However, ensure you ascertain whether the problem truly is the socket.

Now that we are sure that the lamp is the problem, it might be time to the lamp.

How to Rewire a Lamp

First, note the things you need before you go to the local hardware store to buy tools. You will need a lamp kit that you can find online so that you do not go scavenger hunting for individual pieces. Here are the few things that you will need for this activity.

  1. Electrical tape
  2. Wire stripper
  3. New cord
  4. Underwriter's knot
  5. Flathead screwdriver

When carrying out this process, the one thing you need to do is ensure you are safe and sound. Safety always has to come first when dealing with electrical repairs that involve plugging things in and out of the socket. Ensure the light socket is off before you do anything.

Remember, the problem is almost always localized in one position. The problem can be the plug, the wires or the socket itself.

1) The Plug

If the plug is the problem, you will need to follow the following steps to get it fixed.

  • Cut the insulating sleeve of the old cord jacket to have exposed wires. Cut the electrical cord about an inch from the plug. Do not flex or bend the lamp cord when cutting through. Be careful because wire strippers are a bit sharp.
  • You will need to attach new prongs on the old plug by wrapping the wire ends around the terminal screws (silver screw and brass screw terminals. the Silver terminal connects neutral wire and is the wider prong while brass connects hot).
  • Connect the neutral wire to the largest prong. The neutral wire connects to the large prong, silver in most plugs. The brass terminal takes the hot wire. Ensure you know the cord color and their alternatives.
  • Push the blades into the housing of the new plug and tighten the screws. Ensure there are no loose wire ends.

2) Cracked Lamp Cord

If you have vintage lamps, there is a good chance the wires are quite old, and it is time to slip in a new wire. Use the following steps.

  • Get rid of the old wires. An old wire will do you no good, so enjoy using the wire stripper on the old cord. The cord's insulation becomes brittle with time, and the wires are exposed before you know it.
  • Luckily, most cords from hardware stores come with naked ends that you can connect straight to the terminal screw.
  • If the lamp has a threaded body, you will need to feed the cord. For most lamps, the cord passes without any problems.
  • Connect the new cord to a socket.

3) Faulty Socket

The socket is one key area that must be checked if there is a problem. Here is how you fix a faulty socket.

  • Pry the socket shell till you remove it from its base. You can cut the wires to remove the socket. Ensure you loosen the setscrew to remove the socket base.
  • Unscrew the base to replace it with a new one.
  • Using wire cutters, strip off about half an inch of each of the two wires and twist the strands together. If you accidentally pull off some strands, just cut off the wire and start over.
  • Connect the neutral wire of the electrical cord to the wider blade that has been identified either by color or indentions on the socket cap.
  • While connecting the new socket, create an underwriter's knot on the cords to prevent the wires from pulling out of the screws of the new socket. This part may need to go on the bottom of the lamp for some models. Just ensure you pulled the excess cord on the other end to avoid loose connections.
  • Put back the socket together and slip the outer metal shell over the new socket. Dispose of the old socket correctly.

Final Take

The household is full of surprises that come out of nowhere. However, when the surprises come, you will be prepared for them. Always ensure you have things like a new cord and tools to use in cases like repairing electrical appliances. Have a toolbox and fit it with many screw-heads and an electrical kit. Repairing a floor lamp or an old cord is one of the most satisfying things. Of course, you have the option of getting a new one, but repairing saves you a lot in spending.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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