Lamp Sockets and Switches


If a lamp flickers or doesn't come on even after you've changed the bulb, check the cord (especially near the plug) for breakage. If you see no damage, unplug the lamp and examine the socket. The problem may be in the wire connections to the socket.

A metal socket is the most common. Others are made of plastic or porcelain and attach to the lamp or light fixture with screws or a nut and bolt. Take the old socket to a hardware store or home center for a replacement that fits.


About 20 minutes (not including shopping) to test and replace a socket

Screwdriver, continuity tester, perhaps strippers and lineman's pliers

Fastening wire to a terminal; testing for voltage

Unplug the lamp

Replacement socket, switch

Step 1

Unplug the lamp. Before you replace a socket, pry up the contact tab with a screwdriver to make stronger contact with the bulb's base. If a contact tab is rusty, scrape it clean with a screwdriver. Plug it in again and test the lamp.

Step 2

If the problem is not solved, unplug the lamp and remove the socket. Unscrew the small screw near the contact tab. Squeeze the socket shell and pull it out. (If the shell reads PRESS, put your thumb there when you squeeze.)

Step 3

If there is a cardboard sleeve, slide it off. Pull up the socket and examine the terminal connections. If you cannot fix the problem by tightening a terminal screw, loosen the screws, remove the wires, and remove and test the socket with a continuity tester.

Step 4

If the socket tests OK, or if you replace the socket and that does not solve the problem, test the wires for continuity. If there is a break in continuity, rewire the lamp.

Step 5

To replace the socket, untie the wire if it is knotted. If the socket base has a setscrew, loosen it. Unscrew and remove the socket base. Purchase a new socket that matches the old one.

Step 6

Screw the new socket base into the lamp and tighten the setscrew. Tie the cord in an Underwriters knot so it won't pull out. Twist the wire strands tight with your fingers and connect them to the terminals.

Step 7

Slide on the cardboard sleeve (if there is one) and the socket shell. Push down to snap the shell onto the base.

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One Hour or Less

Three simple projects to cross off of your to-do list -- just print these instructions and begin!