Repairing Incandescent Table and Floor Lamps

Lamps that take standard incandescent, CFL or LED equivalent bulbs are very popular. Whether they are large floor lamps or small table models, their basic parts are similar.

A lamp has only a few basic parts t­hat can cause a malfunction. They include the plug, the socket, the switch, the cord and the bulb. Understanding how a lamp is put together not only allows you to make any repairs, but also helps you in making your own lamps out of old bottles or a piece of old wood.

All the part to put a lamp together can be found in a kit form or in individual pieces at your local home center such as City Mill.

When taking a lamp apart follow the following 7 easy steps:

  1. Unplug the lamp and remove the bulb.
  2. Remove the shade by unscrewing the finial. If your lamp has a harp, slide the metal sleeves up at the base of the harp, squeeze the harp at the base and lift it out.
  3. The socket consists of four pieces. The outer shell, press in with your thumb where the shell is stamped ''press" and lift up. Remove the cardboard insulation sleeve, loosen the two terminal screws on the socket and remove the wires.
  4. To remove the cap: first loosen the set screw at the base of the cap. Unscrew the cap from the threaded nipple.
  5. If you have to remove the cord from the lamp, tape a new cord to the old and pull it through as you remove the old cord.
  6. Part the new cord and tie an under writers knot in the socket cap to prevent the cord from being pulled loose from the socket.
  7. Strip off ½ to ¾ inch of insulation at the end of the new wire, twist the wire clockwise and wrap it around the terminal screws. Now tighten the screws and reassemble the lamp.

Trouble Shooting a Lamp

  1. If the lamp does not go on at all or flickers off and on, use this quick checklist:
  2. Remove the bulb and see if it lights in another lamp you know is working.
  3. Check the plug for any cracks or loose wires. Make sure the prongs fit tightly into the receptacle. Spread them slightly for a tight fit.
  4. Check that the cord is not frayed to the extent that bare wires are exposed. If they are, replace the cord.
  5. Make sure the spring terminal at the base of the socket is bent up enough to make firm contact with the bulb. If you are in doubt, with the plug unplugged pry it up slightly with your finger or a screwdriver.
  6. As a last resort, disassemble the lamp to inspect the socket and switch.


Good Luck on your next Do-It-Yourself Project.