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How to Fix a Three-Way Touch Lamp

Updated February 21, 2017

A three-way touch lamp turns on, off or dims with a mere touch of your fingertips. Your body actually becomes a part of the electrical circuit when you touch the lamp, coupling with the dimmer control wired inside the base of the lamp. Unfortunately, over time these dimmer controls can fail and the lamp will no longer operate. The lamp can be salvaged by replacing the original touch dimmer control with a universal replacement dimmer control. This is an inexpensive way to repair what may have been an expensive lamp.

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  1. Unplug the lamp from the wall. Remove the lamp shade and the light bulb. Move the lamp to an area with a flat work service and large enough to accommodate the lamp while it is laying on its side.

  2. Take the base off of the bottom of the lamp. They normally snap on and can be removed with a flat head screw driver. Slide the screw driver under the bottom of the lamp to pry it off.

  3. Remove the old touch dimmer control. The touch dimmer control has four wires, a black wire, a red or grey wire (the colour of this wire depends on the manufacturer), a white wire and a yellow wire. All the wires will be connected to the lamp wires with wire nuts, the exception to this is the yellow wire and that wire is addressed in step four. Simply untwist the wire nuts to disconnect the dimmer control wires from the lamp wires.

  4. Locate the yellow wire connected to the old touch dimmer control; it will have a brass ring attached at the end of the wire. The brass ring fits around a threaded nipple in the lamp base, use pliers to remove the nut and slip the yellow wire off the nipple.

  5. Locate the yellow wire with the brass ring on the new touch dimmer control and place it over the threaded nipple. Place the nut onto the threaded nipple and tighten securely with the pliers.

  6. Connect the black wire attached to the touch dimmer control, to the smooth wire that connects directly to the plug end of the lamp. Twist an orange wire nut onto the wires, connecting them together.

  7. Locate the grey or red wire attached to the touch dimmer control. The colour of this wire depends on the manufacturer. Connect it to the smooth lamp wire that directly connects to the lamp socket by twisting them together with an orange wire nut.

  8. Twist an orange wire nut onto the white wire connect to the dimmer control and the final two ribbed lamp wires in the base of the lamp, connecting them together.

  9. Tape the wire nuts. Wrap electrical tape around all the wire nuts and the wires to secure the wire nuts in place.

  10. Place the bottom of the lamp back onto the lamp base. Replace the light bulb and the lamp shade. Plug the lamp back into the wall.

  11. Tip

    Lamp wire is moulded together on the exterior of the lamp and the colour of the lamp wire usually matches or coordinates with the colour of the lamp. Feel the wires, one side is ribbed, and this is the neutral wire with the smooth wire being the hot wire.

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Things You'll Need

  • Flat head screw driver
  • Pliers
  • Universal touch dimmer control
  • Orange wire nuts
  • Electrical tape

About the Author

Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition.

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