Lamp Repair: Troubleshooting a Lamp that Doesn't Work

Lamp and Couch
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Spare bulb
Light socket
Electrical tape

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.

1. Initial Assessment

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 lamp is unplugged. If that’s not the case, it might be that the bulb has blown. So, what do you do? Yup, go the cupboard for a replacement bulb and voila! Nothing happens. At this point, it’s time to assess less obvious reasons why the lamp won’t work. The 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.

2. Secondary Assessment

puppy chewing on cord

At this point, make sure the lamp is UNPLUGGED from the electrical outlet, to prevent any risks of electrical shock. Then 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 or unwelcome rodents have been chewing at it. If the cord is in good condition, the next thing to examine is the switch. A faulty switch might sound different from the way it normally does when working. The clicking noise it makes when you flick it might sound a little more dull than usual or feel a little looser. If this is the case the switch itself may be the cause of your lamp problem.

3. Replace the Switch

If the switch is integrated into the socket, the whole socket needs replaced. 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.

4. Bulb Socket

First look inside the bulb socket to make sure the metal tab is not lying flat across the bottom, which could indicate that it is not coming into contact with the bottom of the bulb. Pull it up slightly to test if that is the problem. Alternately, replace the entire bulb socket. They are inexpensive and easy to replace, which could solve your problem.

Note: Always make sure your lamp is unplugged while you work.