Lamp Repair: Troubleshooting a Lamp that Doesn't Work Lamp Repair: Troubleshooting a Lamp that Doesn't Work

A lamp is an extremely uncomplicated piece of technology, as is the lamp socket that accompanies it. The main components in a lamp fitting are the cord, the lamp switch and the bulb. Apart from the plug on the other end there is not a great deal that can go wrong with any other parts of a lamp. Of course, having said that, not all lamps are the same style. Some have dimmer switches built into the shaft and others have a rocker switch at the top. Others, again, have rocker switches in the cable, or turn knobs in the socket, so identifying exactly where a fault lies can be somewhat tricky.

Who Turned out the Lights?

During those irritating moments where you reach over to turn the lamp on and nothing happens, the first thing most people guess is that the bulb has blown. So, what do you do? Yup, go the cupboard for a replacement bulb and voila! Nothing happens. So, the next thing to do is assess why the lamp won’t work. First thing to look for is the electrical outlet. Plug another lamp or electrical item into the same socket that the lamp was in, just to make sure it’s not a fault in the socket. If that item works fine, you have eliminated an outside source, so you know it is definitely the lamp that is faulty.

What to Look For

Look for any visible problems with the cord. Many times people have thought an item is faulty and have not properly examined the cord. Later, they find out that their beloved pet has been chewing at it. If you don’t have pets and the cord is in good condition, the next thing to examine is the switch. A faulty switch might sound different to the way it normally does when working. The click it makes when you flick it might sound a little more dull than usual or feel a little more loose. If this is the case the switch itself may be the cause of your lamp problem.


If the switch is integrated into the socket, the whole socket would need replacing. If the switch is part of the cord, it will be attached by a small screw. You should undo this screw and check the wiring inside. The splitter switch will have four wires, two wires from the plug end of the cord and two leading to the lamp. If all the wires are tightly connected and there are no signs of scorching or loose wiring, your attention should be moved to the bulb holder part of the lamp. If you do see signs of loose wiring, reattach and tighten correctly. Replace the top of the switch cover and re-test the lamp. If it works, that is super, but if not, check the bulb socket. You may need to dismantle it to look for loose wiring.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!