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How to shorten a cord on a pendant light

Updated February 21, 2017

Pendant lights are traditionally used in the dining room over the dining table. If the pendant light is hung correctly, it should rest approximately 3 feet above the table. A problem arises when you choose to use your dining room for another purpose and the pendant light becomes a hazard in the room. You can shorten the cord on your pendant light, allowing you to walk beneath it without bumping your head.

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  1. Turn off the power to your pendant light by turning off the breaker that supplies the electricity to the circuit at the main electrical panel.

  2. Remove the nut attached to the screw collar loop that holds the canopy to the ceiling. The canopy covers the electrical box and the wiring for the pendant light fixture. The screw collar loop attaches to the first link in the chain at the ceiling and has threads on the exterior where the nut attaches. Removing the canopy exposes the wiring in the ceiling.

  3. Test to verify that the power has been disconnected to your pendant light. Use a two-prong electrical tester and touch one prong to the black wire inside the wire connector and the other prong to any metal on the electrical box. If your power has been disconnected correctly the light on your tester will not light up.

  4. Disconnect the wires inside the electrical box. Before you disconnect the wires, use a piece of black electrical tape to label the lamp wire connected to the black wire inside the electrical box. Remove the wire connectors from the black wire and the white wire inside the electrical box, disconnecting the pendant. The screw collar loop will be threaded onto a nipple held to the electrical box on the fixture crossbar. Turn the screw collar loop counterclockwise, removing it from the threaded nipple and releasing the pendant from the ceiling. The fixture cross bar is a flat piece of metal that is attached to the electrical box and holds the threaded nipple.

  5. Open the link on the chain that is attached to the screw collar loop. Use pliers and wrap the link in soft cloth as to not damage the finish on the chain. Remove enough links from the chain to shorten the pendant to the desired length. Open a link on the chain to remove the access chain and close that link around the screw collar loop.

  6. Pull the lamp cord through the top of the screw collar to remove the access cord in the chain. Note which side of the lamp cord you labelled with black tape. Remove the excess cord using wire cutter/strippers and strip a 1/2 inch of insulation off of each lamp wire.

  7. Thread the lamp cord through the nipple in the electrical box and screw the screw collar onto the nipple. Twist an orange wire connector onto the black wire and the wire you labelled with black electrical tape, connecting them together. Twist an additional orange wire connector onto the white wire and the remaining lamp wire. Slide the canopy up over the nipple and against the ceiling and tighten the nut onto the screw collar loop.

  8. Turn the power back on to the lighting circuit by turning on the breaker at the main electrical panel.

  9. Warning

    Test to verify that the electricity is off to the area you are working in to avoid electrical shock.

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Things You'll Need

  • Electrical tester
  • Black electrical tape
  • Pliers
  • Soft cloth
  • Wire cutter/strippers
  • Orange wire connectors

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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