If your lamp stops working but the bulb is good, or your lamp cord gets damaged, it’s time to replace it. The cord, that is. Not the whole lamp. Here’s how to fix a lamp cord.
Even if you have to take the lamp completely apart, the project should take less than an hour. The easy fixes only take a few minutes.
Check this before you check the wire
If the wire doesn’t have visible damage and the lamp doesn’t work, check the tab inside the socket where the light bulb goes. The tab goes bad more frequently than the wire. Unplug the lamp and remove the bulb, then bend the tab up slightly. It should sit at about a 20-30 degree angle. Plug the lamp back in, turn it on, then screw in a bulb. Stop turning as soon as the bulb lights. Overtightening bulbs is the most frequent cause of lamps going bad.
How to fix a lamp cord the easy way
The easy way to fix a lamp cord is to splice into the old one. If the cord has visible damage and you have no reason to believe there’s anything wrong inside the lamp, you can take this approach. To fix a lamp cord this way, all you need is a pair of wire strippers, a pair of wire cutters, some heat shrink tubing, and a cheap extension cord.
Leaving the end that plugs into the wall, cut a length of extension cord to match the length of lamp cord you need to replace. For aesthetics, you may want to cut back so that the splice is underneath the lamp where it won’t be visible.
Strip back about a half inch of insulation from both wires. Cut the damaged length of lamp cord away, then strip back about a half inch of insulation from those wires too.
Cut two 3/4-inch lengths of heat shrink tubing. Slide the tubing onto the wires, but out of the way from the bare wire. Twist one wire from the extension cord onto a wire from the lamp, then twist the other. Bend the twist so it’s parallel with the insulation. Slide the heat shrink tubing over the twist, then shrink it with a heat gun. If you don’t have a heat gun, you can use an ordinary hair dryer. It just takes longer with a hair dryer. This gives a neat, permanent repair that is just as durable as the factory insulation.
As long as you can see the damage to the cord, that’s how to fix a lamp cord. There’s no need to make it more complicated.
How to fix a lamp cord the hard way
If you think the problem is inside the lamp, you’ll need to take the lamp apart. Every lamp is a bit different, but they tend to just screw together. Usually there is a hollow threaded tube that runs through the lamp, and a nut on the underside of the lamp that holds it all together. If you remove that nut, then you can usually pull the tube out from the lamp body. Then it usually unscrews from the socket. Take pictures along the way to help you put the lamp back together.
The wire on the socket shell attaches with two screws. Loosen the screws, then disconnect the wires.
Cut the end off a cheap extension cord, then strip about a half inch of wire off the ends and twist the strands together. Pull out the old cord, then thread the new cord through the lamp parts like the original up to the top of the lamp. If the cord goes through a hole in the bottom of the lamp, tie a knot in the cord, called an underwriter’s knot, to keep the cord from pulling back through.
If your extension cord has a polarized plug, the wire with the bigger prong is the neutral wire. Connect the neutral wire to the silver terminal screw on the socket. The hot wire attaches to the brass terminal screw on the socket.
Bend each of the exposed wires into a u-shape loop and hook the loop around the appropriate screw and tighten the screw. Repeat for the other wire with the other screw. Be sure to tighten both screw terminals.
Once you wire the lamp up, put it back together by reversing the disassembly process.
And that’s how to fix a lamp cord. Even if you have to take the lamp completely apart, the project should take less than an hour. The easy fixes only take a few minutes. And if you’re wondering, fixing a lamp socket isn’t hard or expensive either.