Fixing Pull Chain Lights

How to Turn Off Light When a Pull Chain Breaks

Lights with pull chains are often mounted high in ceilings to keep the bulbs protected from damage. However, this can make them difficult to reach when a chain breaks.

Fortunately, changing a pull chain is an easy fix for an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Just follow these simple steps! The whole process should only take about fifteen minutes.

Turn Off the Power

Pull chain lights are a great way to brighten up a closet or basement/attic space. However, sometimes the pull chains can break. If they snap off just a few inches short of the socket it’s easily fixed with a pull chain extension available at most large home improvement stores.

If the pull chain is stuck or difficult to pull that could be a sign that the switch inside the socket isn’t working properly. In that case you will need to replace the switch.

Always remember to turn off the power to the fixture at the breaker panel before working on it. This will help prevent electrical shock. Using a non-conductive voltage tester is also recommended to make sure the wires aren’t still supplying electricity. This can be purchased at any major hardware store for just a few dollars. Once the power is turned off it’s safe to begin working on the switch and chain.

Remove the Light Bulb

The pull chain lamp is a familiar sight on the desk of many a writer, accountant or seamstress burning the midnight oil. It’s a quick and convenient way to light up one’s work area, but it’s not so convenient when the chain breaks or gets stuck.

Thankfully, changing a light chain is easy and can be done in about fifteen minutes. All that’s needed is a pair of pliers and a bit of patience.

Before you start, disconnect any electrical wires connected to the switch and the fan (this may require climbing up a ladder). Then, remove the bulb and light kit from the housing unit. Take note of how the wires are arranged so you can reattach them correctly. Finally, screw the cover and accessories back in place. Once everything is in place, you can give the new pull chain a tug and enjoy the sense of accomplishment! And don’t forget to turn the power back on at the circuit breaker.

Remove the Switch

Once you’ve figured out what the problem is and turned off the power at your circuit breaker or fuse box (and double checked with a voltage tester), it’s time to remove the fixture from the ceiling. Take down any breakable light bulbs and pull chains to prevent damage and set them aside. Next, remove the end cap by turning counterclockwise to remove it from the fixture. Locate the wire connections to the switch and disconnect them.

If your chain seems stuck and twisted inside the switch, spray it with a non-conductive lubricant. If this doesn’t help, you may need to replace the switch altogether.

Once you’ve removed the old switch, install the new one. Connect the new wires to the switch (black to black, ground to ground) then screw the switch back into place. Finally, reattach the end cap, replace any lights or coverings and turn on the power to test your newly-installed pull chain switch.

Replace the Chain

Pull chains are common in many light fixtures, especially those found in attics and basements, as a convenient way to turn the fixture on when it’s out of reach. However, when they break it can be tricky to know how to fix the problem.

If the chain simply snapped in a spot that’s shorter than it should be, you can snap a new link onto the end of the broken chain to lengthen it. Otherwise, a trip to the hardware store is in order to get a replacement switch with chain.

Once you have your new switch and chain in hand, shut off the power to the circuit breaker that serves the light. Unscrew the old switch and wires from the fixture and carefully connect them to your new switch, remembering to pair black to black and ground to ground. Screw the end cap back on and replace any covers and bulbs before turning the power back on and giving your new chain a test tug!

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