How to Replace a Light Socket
I love refurbishing lamps! Some of the lamps I find are very old (and so is the wiring), and some of the lamps just need a new socket. In this tutorial, I will share step-by-step how to replace a light socket so that the lamp functions as new and is safe to have in the home!
Lamp sockets are comprised of three pieces: the cap, the shell and the socket. The cap attaches to the rod or post of the lamp while the shell covers socket – mainly the wire connected to the terminals. The shell will usually have a cardboard liner.
The socket has two terminals: one terminal will be brass in color (for the HOT wire) and the other will be silver in color (for the NEUTRAL wire).
The wires in the cord each have a specific purpose, and must be wired to the terminals on the socket a certain way. The smooth wire is the HOT wire and goes to the brass terminal, and the wire with ribs on the casing is the NEUTRAL wire and goes to the silver terminal. Sometimes, wiring is colored with one section being black (HOT) or white (neutral).
To replace the socket on a lamp, the old socket will have to be taken apart. The shell of the lamp socket comes apart in one of two ways: it is either two pieces that screw together (generally plastic or phenolic material) or they snap together (made of aluminum) with a stamp on it that says Press. In either case, the outer cover will need to be removed.
Use a Phillips screwdriver to loosen the terminals connecting the wiring to the socket. If possible, mark one of the wires with tape before removing it so that it can be reattached to the corresponding terminal on the new socket.
Thread the lamp wire through the cap or lower portion of the socket shell, then screw the cap on the lamp pipe. Tie an Underwriters Knot in the wiring which will keep the wiring from coming off of the terminals if the wire is pulled.
Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, make a “hook” in the wire that faces to the right. This is because the terminal is tightened in a clockwise manner, and the “hook” will follow the direction of the terminal.
Replace the upper shell of the socket and screw it onto or snap it into the cap. Replace the bulb and shade. Plug the lamp in and turn it on.
Have questions about how to replace a light socket? Leave a comment below!