Replacing a Ceiling Fan Pull String

What You'll Need
Replacement pull switch
Ladder or stepstool
#2 Phillips Screwdriver
Diagonal wire cutter
Wire stripper
4 #14 to #22 AWG Wire nuts
An assistant (if needed)

Replacing a ceiling fan pull string is among the easier home wiring projects that may need to be done. It requires 15 to 30 minutes of your time and costs less than $20. Additionally, all of the parts you need are available at most hardware stores.

Step 1 – Preparation 

There are a variety of pull switches having different purposes for ceiling fans. Consequently, it is important to buy the correct switch for the job. Most fans have 3 speeds. As a result, you want to buy a pull chain switch that has 4 wires or connection points (1 hot and 1 for each speed control). 

IMPORTANT: When you are ready to begin, read the back of the new pull chain package. It will provide instructions on how to connect your particular pull chain. 

Step 2 – Kill The Power 

Whenever you work with electricity, you want to take extra measures for safety. Electricity can kill, so kill it first! Turn off the power to the ceiling fan at the circuit breaker in the electrical service panel. 

Step 3 – Disassembly 

Ceiling fans are sold with and without attached light fixtures. If your ceiling fan has a light fixture, remove the light bulbs and shades and set them safely out of the way. Otherwise, locate and remove the 3 screws holding the end-cap or light fixture in place. Even though the wires may be strong enough to hold the light fixture, you should have an assistant to help keep the fixture from falling if you are removing one. 

Step 4 – Swap The Pull Switch 

Remove the retaining nut from the broken pull switch, and slide the switch out of the hole. 

Because there are four wires, it is important to keep track of what wire goes where. While you go through the following process, look closely at the back side of the pull switch you are removing. It should indicate which wire does what. That said, it’s best to clip, strip and reconnect one wire at a time. DO NOT clip all of the wires from the old unit at once. 

Begin by finding, clipping and stripping the hot wire of your old pull chain. It should be indicated on the back by an “L.” Before you clip another wire, insert the hot wire into the appropriate connection on the new pull chain. Repeat this process for the wires marked “1,” “2” and “3.” 

Once all 4 of the wires have been inserted in the new switch, remove its retaining nut. Feed the new pull chain through the hole, and slide the switch into place. Now, finger-tighten the retaining nut to hold the switch in place. 

Step 5 – Reassembly 

Finally, replace the end-cap or light fixture and tighten the holding screws. 

That’s it! It’s time to replace the shades and light bulbs, clean up, and relax...or...complete another of the many projects on!