If you’ve come across a beautiful light fixture that needs repairs, or your grandmother wants you to fix her favorite lamp from yesteryear, you’re going to need to know how to rewire a lamp.
Vintage lamps are one of the most sought after antique home items, and it’s no wonder why. These pieces – at least the bases of them – tend to last for decades. The craftsmanship is incredible, and you could argue that these pieces are real works of art.
Today, you’ll find out how to rewire a lamp – whether it’s a table lamp or a floor lamp – and breathe new life into a beautiful piece of history.
How to Rewire a Lamp – What You Need to Know About Lamp Repair
Does the idea of figuring out how to wire a lamp fill you with dread?
There’s no need to fear the lamp repair process. With the right tools, some instructional videos, and some practice, you’ll go from novice to expert in no time.
Here’s the step by step process for how to rewire a floor lamp.
1. Get all of your tools together
The first step is to get all of your ducks in a row. In other words, this is the time to get all of your tools together.
In most cases, you’ll need the following:
- A screwdriver
- A wire cutter
- A lamp rewiring kit (this should come with a plug, socket, and cord).
2. Familiarize yourself with the anatomy of your lamp
If you’re like a lot of people – you need some visual aids.
When it comes to rewiring a lamp, the first thing you should do is find a diagram of the parts of a lamp. This will help you follow the rewiring directions to a T.
Sometimes a picture isn’t always enough. If you find that this is the case for you, head over to YouTube. Not only are there hundreds of helpful lamp rewiring tutorials, but you may also find one for the actual lamp that you’re going to rewire.
Watching others successfully rewire an antique lamp will give you the confidence you need to pursue your project to the finish line.
3. Make sure the lamp is unplugged
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes people get ahead of themselves and start working on their lamp while it’s still plugged in. Make sure the lamp is unplugged, remove the light bulb, and then proceed with removing the old socket.
4. Check to see which part of the lamp is dead
Sometimes, you don’t have to rewire the lamp completely. In some cases, the socket is fine, but the switch needs to be replaced.
Once you’ve removed the old socket, lift out the insulation sleeve and loosen the terminal screws. Now, disconnect the wires.
Use a continuity tester to determine if the socket, the switch, or the cord is bad. If the tester lights up – the socket is good. If it doesn’t light up, you’ll need to buy a new socket and rewire the socket.
If, however, the continuity tester lights up, but the lamp still doesn’t work, you probably need a new cord.
5. Start rewiring
Now that you’ve removed the old socket, it’s time to start rewiring. Pull the lamp cord out of the bottom of the light fixture.
Next, feed the new cord through the bottom of the lamp until it comes out of the top. Attach the new socket.
Split the wires with wire cutters, remove some of the insulation (approximately one inch), and then tie the split cords.
Wrap the exposed wires around the screws of the socket, and then tighten the screws with a screwdriver to keep the cables securely in place.
Place the light’s sleeve over the socket, put a light bulb in the lamp, and plug it in. If the lamp doesn’t light up, watch another tutorial to see if you can figure out where things went wrong.
Overall Safety Tips for Rewiring a Lamp
Many lamps do not carry a serious risk, but it’s still necessary to take some safety precautions.
When you remove a fuse, keep it with you. This way, it can’t be replaced while you’re working.
When you shut off a circuit breaker, put tape over it and shut the door. Tape a sign to it reading something like “Do not touch!”
Always turn the power off of the service panel to the light you’re working on. Again, remember to unplug the lamp you’re working on.
Use wooden or fiberglass ladders. These are insulated, so they won’t conduct electricity.
Use lightbulbs with the proper wattage. If it’s too high, there’s a chance of it overheating.
Only use tools with insulated handles. Again, this prevents electricity conducting.
Additional safety tips
Water and electricity are a dangerous mix. Wear rubber-soled shoes and stand on a rubber board if the floors or wet.
Don’t touch metal pipes. (Obvious, but important!)
Test the fixture with a voltage tester before working, to be sure that the power is shut off.
When you open the service panel door, keep a hand at your side so that you don’t create a complete circuit if current is leaking from the panel.
If you have an older house, have an electrician check that everything is grounded.
Loop the wires clockwise around terminal screws to keep them from coming off as the screws are tightened.
Don’t change fixtures if your house has aluminum wires. This could be dangerous, so call an electrician to replace the wire ends.
Keep Educating Yourself So You Can Continue Bringing Old Pieces to Life
There are dozens of gorgeous antique lights that deserve to receive the breath of life. Whether you’re a fan of the Victorian age or the Art Deco period of history – you’ll be able to find antique floor lamps and light fixtures that need a bit of TLC.
Educate yourself on the history of these pieces, as well as the safest, most affordable ways to refurbish or rewire these pieces. Doing so will allow you to save what could become your most prized possession from the junk heap.
With continued practice, you may even become an expert on how to rewire a floor lamp, with people coming to you for advice or to hire you for your impressive skill set.
The possibilities are endless, so take the opportunity to continue educating yourself on how to bring beautiful antique pieces – like floor lamps – to life.