New Homeowner’s Repair Guide: How To Replace A Pull Switch On A Ceiling Light

You will know when the switch on a ceiling light has gone bad when you pull on the long chain hanging down from the fixture and nothing happens. The light either stays on or it stays off. You need to replace the switch to get the ceiling light working again. This is a project most new homeowners, even ones with limited electrical experience, can do themselves with just a few tools. If the light switch on your ceiling light no longer works and you want to replace it, here is an overview of what you'll have to do.

You Will Need:

  • New Switch
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire Cutters
  • Voltage Tester
  • Electrical Nuts

Turn Off Power

You should turn the power off to the light at the circuit breaker even if there is a wall switch you can use. This will protect you in case someone walks in and accidentally turns the power on to the light.

Remove Light Bulbs

Remove the light bulbs and the shades from the light. Set them in a safe place.

Remove Bottom of Light Fixture

There are typically three or four screws you have to remove to detach the bottom part of the light fixture from the top part. The screws will go around the area where the bottom and top part connect together. Remove the screws and separate the bottom part from the top part of the fixture.

Test Electricity

For an extra safety measure, you should test the wires to make sure there is not any electricity flowing through the light's circuitry now that the wires are exposed. You can use a voltage tester probe to determine if there is any electricity going to the light. A voltage tester has two prongs (one black and one red) and a light on it. Place the black probe against the screw that the black wire is connected to, and place the red probe on the screw where the white wire is connected. If the bulb doesn't light up on the tester, then you know for sure that the electricity is completed turned off.

Remove Switch

Unscrew the nut holding the switch to the light fixture. The nut is typically located on the outside of the lower part of the light fixture. Cut the two wires going to the switch with wire cutters. Cut the wires as close to the old switch as you can. The switch can now be removed.

Install New Switch

Use the wire cutters to remove the insulation on the two wires you cut from the switch. You want to expose the bare wires underneath the insulation. You should remove about an inch of the insulation at the tip of the wires. Take the wires from the new switch and attach them to the same colored wires from the old switch. Use electrical wire nuts to twist and bind the wires together. Set the switch back into the bottom of the light fixture and screw it back on. Push the wires up into the electrical box and reconnect the bottom of the light fixture to the top. Replace the light bulb shades and light bulbs. Turn the electricity back on and pull down on the chain for the switch. The lights should turn off and on now.

For more information, contact Morris Electric Contracting & Service, Inc. or a similar company.