How To: Rewire a Lamp
You bought a beautiful antique lamp but upon closer inspection, you notice there is damage to the sheathing, the plastic cover that protects the wires. (Over time, normal wear and tear causes a plastic cord to crack or fray, exposing the wires inside.) Don’t give up on your vintage find! Instead, rewire the lamp so that it shines like new. You only need a few basic tools and a lamp rewiring kit (containing cord, plug, and socket) to restore the fixture to working order.
1. Be safe and make sure the lamp is unplugged. Then unscrew the light bulb and set it to the side (along with the lamp shade). Using a flat-head screwdriver, remove the sleeve of the lamp’s socket. If the words “press here” are imprinted there, you may be able to slide out the socket with your thumbs.
2. Pull up the socket to expose the old cord. Use wire cutters to remove the socket. Then turn the lamp over and unscrew the nut on the bottom of the fixture to remove the base. Pull the cord out through the lamp’s pipe.
3. Install the new cord (from the lamp rewiring kit) by feeding it up through the pipe. Reattach the base and attach the new socket.
4. Split the top of the cord into two pieces by cutting along its groove with wire cutters. Snip off one inch of the plastic sheathing, then twist each of the wires in a clockwise motion.
5. Loosen the screws on either side of the new socket. Hook the neutral wire (the one with ridges on the sheathing) to the silver screw. Attach the other wire to the brass screw. Secure the wires by tightening the screws with a screwdriver.
6. Push the lamp’s sleeve down onto the new socket and screw the light bulb back in.
Now, plug in the rewired lamp to test out your handiwork!
For more on lighting, consider:
Pendant Lighting 101
Bob Vila Radio: Types of Lighting
How To: Add Under-Cabinet Lighting