How to Troubleshoot a Touch Lamp

Written by dave donovan
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How to Troubleshoot a Touch Lamp

For years, touch lamps have been gracing our bedside nightstands, living room end tables and office desks. Their simple operation and lack of on/off switches have made them essential lighting solutions for those in their golden years or for those who have difficulty using their hands. But, just like all other types of lamps, touch lamps need a repair every once in a while. If your lamp isn't working as it should, make your way through the steps below to try to find the problem.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Make sure the outlet you are plugging the touch lamp into is not controlled by a dimmer switch. If the outlet is controlled by a regular single-pole switch, make sure it is in the "on" position.

  2. 2

    Replace the bulb.

  3. 3

    Touch the lamp with another part of your hand. If you have callouses on your fingertips, they may be acting as an insulator, which in turn prevents the lamp from lighting.

  4. 4

    Check to see if your carpet was sprayed with an anti-static spray. These sprays eliminate the static electricity that is required to activate the lamp's sensor.

  5. 5

    Plug the touch lamp into a surge protector and try turning it on again. Sometimes, if the touch lamp is too close to another high level of energy, like a garage door opener, ham radio or CB radio, it may not function correctly. A good-quality surge protector can sometimes remedy this situation. Cordless phones and intercom systems can also have a similar effect on the touch lamp's functionality.

  6. 6

    Unplug the lamp and use a butter knife or screwdriver to remove the plastic cover on the bottom of the lamp. Check for any broken or loose connections and for any blown fuses if your lamp has them. If there are any broken wires, make a fresh set of connections and try the lamp again. Replace any bad fuses. If, after all this, the touch lamp still isn't working, the sensor inside the lamp is probably bad.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure to use only one-way bulbs with your touch lamp, not three-way bulbs.
  • Remember that only the metallic parts of the touch lamp can turn the light on and off.
  • Always unplug the touch lamp before working on it.

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