How to replace a light bulb socket

This week, our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, shows us how she repaired a lamp by replacing the socket.  

Jill's lamp had gotten knocked over and the light bulb socket had come apart. Theoretically, Jill could have taken some pliers or an adjustable wrench and kind of crimped it back together, but she already did not like that the socket had a pull-chain, so she replaced it.

It's a simple fix, says Jill. She picked up a replacement socket at one of the big box building stores. They're only a few bucks. Jill chose one with a basic push-through switch.

First and foremost, when you're working on a lamp, make sure that the lamp is unplugged. Now you're ready to start.  

Remove the lightbulb and then separate the upper and lower parts of the socket. Since Jill's had already come apart, this was not a problem. 

If yours is still in tact, you may have to wiggle it apart or even pry it with a flat tip screwdriver. Once it's apart, pull the top outer part off. Then there should be a thin cardboard insulation sleeve over the wiring.  Pull that off, too. Now your wiring should be exposed. Simply unscrew the 2 screws that hold the wires in place and you should be able to pull the rest of the socket off.

Now, you need to remove the base of the socket covering, which is most likely threaded/screwed to the lamp base. Simply twist/unscrew this part off. You'll then need to pull it off of the wires. Jill says that the wires may be sort of knotted to keep them from pulling through. Simply undo them and pull the base off.

Now, you're ready for the new socket. You're simply going to reverse your steps, says Jill.  ull apart the new socket, top from bottom and thread your existing wires through the socket base, feeding them in through the bottom. Once you have them through, you can attach the socket base to the threads on the lamp by just screwing it on. Now, you can re-tie your wires into the knot, like they were before.

At this point, you're ready to reconnect your wires. 

Loosen the screws on your new socket base. Take the exposed end of one of the wires and form it into a little hook. Hook it onto one screw and tighten it down. Jill says that it's easier to screw the wire down, if the hook goes in the direction that you would tighten the screw. If that's not possible in your situation, do your best to push the wire in and keep it under the screw as you tighten it. Now repeat that same process for the other wire on the opposite side of the base, and tighten that screw down.

The wiring part is done! You just need to put the socket base back together. Push the newly wired socket down as much as you can, slide the cardboard insulating sleeve over the new wiring, and slide the outer sleeve or top part of the socket over the cardboard and push it all together, taking care to not disturb your newly wired socket. If it starts to comes apart while you're pushing it all together, take a minute go back to make sure your wires are in place and tightened down to the socket. Once the socket is all back together, Jill says that you should hear the two parts of the outer socket click or snap, when everything is all properly in place, and your socket should feel solid and firm, not wiggly or loose.

Now, it's time to test it all out. Replace your bulb, plug in your lamp, and hit the switch. You should have light!

If not, unplug the lamp, and go back and check your work.

There you have it. A simple repair that can give your old or broken lamp new life.

PROJECT RATING: Easy to Medium (depending on your lamp)

To watch Jill take you through the process, just click on the video player above.