How to Test a Light Socket

Lights in a ceiling.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10
What You'll Need
Step ladder
Rubber gloves

A light socket is a fixture that holds light bulbs and connects them to power cables in the walls. If a light bulb stops glowing and installing a replacement does not solve the problem, only then should you test the light socket, since it allows passage of electricity to the bulb. The article below will guide you through this process.

Step 1 - Take Appropriate Precautions

Testing a light socket involves contact with high voltage electrical wiring. Make sure that the main breaker in the breaker box is switched off before working on the light socket in any way. For safety purposes, deploy the stepladder on a stable surface while working on the ceiling light fixtures. In addition to these precautions, the use of gloves is also recommended to prevent electrocution.

Purchase gloves on Amazon

Step 2 - Remove the Light Socket

Since the problem either lies in the light socket or in the power cables, diagnosing the problem requires access to the connections hidden at the back of the fixture. Use an appropriate screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the fixture to the electrical box. Once this is done, carefully pry the fixture loose and let it hang via the power cables that are connected to it.

Step 3 - Use a Continuity Tester

Continuity testers are electronic devices with two electrodes attached to a digital meter. These devices work as galvanometers that detect and measure electronic current. In order to properly use them, the electrodes, usually of a black and red color, are to be touched with a conductor and not the insulation that covers the wires. For more information about connections, refer to the user manual that came with the device.

Purchase a continuity tester on Amazon

Step 4 - Test Flaws in the Power Cables

To rule out issues with the power cables, connect the continuity connector to the electrical terminals as explained. To check for this problem you will have to touch the electrodes with the live wire and the neutral wire. This can be done in multiple ways, but the easiest method is to simply connect the electrodes with the brass and silver-colored bolts on the back of the light socket. If the meter picks up current and displays a numeric value, the power cables are working fine. If this does not happen then the fault lies in the power cables.

Step 5 - Test for a Flaw in the Light Socket

For this step, remove the light fixture by disconnecting it from the power cables. Once this is done, touch one electrode with the brass terminal at the bottom of the socket to the other one with the threaded part of the socket. If the digital meter shows a reading then the socket is not faulty. However, if there is no change in the meter display socket, it should be replaced with one of good quality. This will ensure a longer socket life and will save you the trouble of making frequent replacements.

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.