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How to Fix a Pull Chain Light Fixture

Updated February 21, 2017

Pull chain light fixtures are a common type of light found in closets, garages and basements. While they are easy to use and can save the hassle of having to install a light switch, the pull chain mechanism itself can wear out over time. When this happens, the light will either remain constantly on or off, with no way to reverse it. Knowing how to fix a pull chain light fixture will help you solve this problem and prevent you from having to buy an all-new fixture.

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  1. Turn off the power to the pull chain fixture. Find the breaker in the electrical panel and turn it off. If the light bulb in the fixture is lit, it will be easier to find, but if it's not lit, it may prove more difficult. If the bulb is not lit, remove the bulb from the fixture and insert the tip of the touch-type voltage tester into the socket. When the right breaker is off, the tester will stay quiet.

  2. Disconnect the pull chain fixture from its mounting bracket and pull it away from the ceiling or wall.

  3. Test the wires themselves to ensure that you turned off the correct breaker. If the tester doesn't indicate voltage, disconnect the wires in the ceiling from the fixture.

  4. Loosen the end cap on the pull chain switch, using the needle-nose pliers. This is the part located on the outside of the fixture where the chain is coming out of. Once loosened, twist it off with your fingers and slide it over the chain. This will free the pull chain switch.

  5. Disconnect the pull chain wire that's connected to the fixture wire and throw the pull chain away.

  6. Take the new pull chain switch and insert the chain and threaded nipple through the hole in the fixture just like the previous one was. Slide the end cap over the chain and screw it onto the threaded nipple until secure.

  7. Take one wire from the pull chain switch (it doesn't matter which one) and connect it to the black wire on the light fixture using a wire connector. Wrap electrical tape around the connection.

  8. Connect the other black wire on the switch to the black wire in the ceiling or wall box. Then connect the white wire on the fixture to the white wire in the wall/ceiling box. Make sure both wire connectors are tight and wrap each with electrical tape.

  9. Re-secure the fixture to the ceiling or wall, install the light bulb and cover and turn the breaker back on. Pull on the chain to test out your repair.

  10. Warning

    Never disconnect a light fixture without first checking the lines for voltage. Always turn the power off at the breaker before working on an electrical circuit.

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • New pull chain switch
  • Voltage tester (touch-type)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire connectors
  • Electrical tape

About the Author

Based in Atco, NJ, Dave Donovan has been a full-time writer for over five years. His articles are featured on hundreds of websites, and have landed him in two nationally published books "If I Had a Hammer: More Than 100 Easy Fixes and Weekend Projects" by Andrea Ridout and "How to Cheat at Home Repair" by Jeff Brendenberg.

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