How to Replace a Lamp Cord? A DIY Money-Saving Solution

  • Home Decor 101
  • Posted by: amy-golden
  • Jun 15, 2024

If you’re looking for “how to replace a lamp cord”, you’ve come to the right place. Over time, lamp cords can wear out or get damaged, affecting the lamp’s functionality. A lamp cord is a crucial component, connecting the lamp to a power source via a plug or wall switch. Common types of lamp cords include SPT and SVT, which are flexible stranded wires used in many lamps. This guide will help you replace a lamp cord easily and safely.

When Do You Need To Replace A Lamp Cord?

It may depend on your preference. You may be confused, why is that? Our research found out that some people searching for “how to replace floor lamp cord”, “how to replace table lamp cord”, “how to replace a lamp electrical cord”, whose lamp cord does not really need to be changed. They just want to upgrade the lamp considered as a piece of furniture, by changing a lamp cord to a different color.

Otherwise, for some objective reasons, the lamp cord must be replaced due to safety hazards. Look at the detailed explanations:

Frayed or damaged cord: Inspect the lamp cord for any visible signs of fraying, cracking, or damage. The end of the cord is damaged because a bulb has shorted out. Damaged cords can pose a safety hazard, increasing the risk of electrical shocks or fires.

Exposed wire can result in electrical shock (source: ocwr)
Exposed wire can result in electrical shock (source: ocwr)

Worn off insulation: Some unsafe signs have to be noticed such as the electrical tape, masking tape, cellophane tape, or even old friction tape over the exposed conductor. If you notice exposed wires or worn-out insulation, it is a clear indication that the cord needs to be replaced.

Loosen or unstable connection: If the lamp flickers or turns on and off intermittently, it could be due to a loose or unstable connection in the cord. Check if the cord is securely attached to the lamp socket and the plug. If there is any wobbling or movement, it's a sign that the cord needs to be replaced.

Overheating: If the lamp cord feels excessively hot to the touch during normal operation, it could be a sign of an electrical issue. Overheating cords can be caused by damaged insulation or faulty wiring connections. To avoid the risk of fire or electrical damage, it's crucial to replace the cord promptly.

Burn marks or bad smell: The marks coat rubber used as insulation. Burn marks on the cord or a distinct smell of burning when the lamp is in use indicate a serious electrical problem. This could be caused by short circuits, faulty wiring, or overheating. It is important to stop using the lamp immediately and not use it until replacing the cord to prevent further damage or potential hazards.

An extremely damaged cord need to be replaced (source: dailymeanwell)
An extremely damaged cord need to be replaced (source: dailymeanwell)

Age and wear: Lamp cords, like any other electrical components, have a lifespan. Old lamp cord having the insulation crack off in pieces or melt that can pose a high risk of fire or exploration. If your lamp cord is old, discolored, worn-out, or has been used extensively, it may be time for learning how to replace old lamp cord. Even if there are no visible signs of damage, aging cords can become less reliable and more prone to issues.

Other problems such as the cords being chewed through or traversed by the wheels of a roller chair lead to severe damage.

How to Replace a Lamp Cord: Step-by-Step Guide

What You'll Need

Tools Usage
Screwdriver Dismantling the lamp to change the old cord to a new one.
Wire cutters Cutting the cord into the appropriate length without damaging the structure.
Electrical Tape Covering the exposed wires and new cord connection.
Replacement lamp cord Replacing the old lamp cord, needs to be matched in length, type and specifications.
Pliers (optional) Removing a stuck plug or bending and twisting wires during the replacement process.

Once you have prepared a lamp cord replacement kit that is needed for the replacement lamp cord and socket (if necessary) process, follow our guide-to-guide process to ensure a successful outcome.

Step 1: Unplug the lamp and remove the shade

It’s important to keep in mind that before starting to do a lamp cord replacement process, to prevent potential safety hazards such as electrical shock or accident, you must unplug or disconnect from the power source.

Double test by turning the light on again to see whether the lamp is indeed disconnected  or not. If the lamp doesn’t light up, you can totally feel secure to proceed with the troubleshooting process.

Disconnect the lamp from power source before start the lamp cord replacement (source: trmckenzie)
Disconnect the lamp from power source before start the lamp cord replacement (source: trmckenzie)

Carefully remove the light bulb from the lamp socket and put it aside. It’s better to use a cloth or gloves to protect your hand from the heat of the light bulb. Next, you can remove the lampshade. Do it gently. Then, be careful to locate the shade in a safe area to prohibit the possibility of breakage.

Step 2: Inspect The Lamp Cord

Survey the cord situation to provide an overall assessment. Checking the list of “When do you need to replace a lamp cord” above. If you detect that the lamp cord is damaged, you must replace the lamp cord immediately to prevent some potentially extreme dangerous situations from occurring.

Paying close attention to inspecting the cord hazards: frayed, damaged, worn and torn, broken inside, exposed wires or cracked insulation. You should notice the length of the damaged cord to conclude that you can reuse the old lamp cord or have to replace it entirely.

When you already need a lamp cord replacement (source: storables)
When you already need a lamp cord replacement (source: storables)

Step 3: Identify the Type of Lamp Cord Replacement

After determining that you have to proceed with a lamp cord replacement, it’s crucial to identify the type of replacement lamp cord before knowing how to rewire a lamp. There are two types of lamp cords: Plug end replacement and internal cord replacement. Let's find out what's the difference between these two types:

  • Plug end replacement: If the lamp cord is damaged or faulty only at the plug connecting to the power socket, you only need to replace the plug. The plug can be easily detached and replaced by following the manufacturer’s instructions or a guide on how to fix a lamp switch.
  • Internal cord replacement: If the entire lamp cord is damaged or you want to upgrade the lamp, you need to replace the entire cord. This process is more complicated as it involves disassembling the lamp and replacing the cord from the socket to the plug end.

After specifying what replacement to conduct: Plug End Replacement, Internal Cord Replacement or both, then it’s important to choose a new plug or cord that matches the old one about type, length and other specifications:

  • Lamp cord: two popular types of lamp cord are: SPT-1 (standard insulation thickness: 030 inches ), SPT-2 (thicker insulation: 0.45 inches). Both cord types have a maximum load of seven amps and are available in 16- or 18-gauge sizes.
  • Plug: polarized plug, three-pin plug, two-pin plug.
Some type of common cords you may need to prepare for the lamp cord replacement  (source: instructables)
Some type of common cords you may need to prepare for the lamp cord replacement  (source: instructables)

Step 4: Disassemble the Lamp

Depending on the design, sometimes you must disassemble the entire lamp to reach the lamp cord. Otherwise, dismantle the lamp base, shade, or wires connections are enough.

Most lamps have a base that screws together. Locate the screws and remove them carefully. Depending on the lamp design, you might need to remove a finial or harp (the metal piece holding the shade) to access the socket. Next, unscrew and disassemble the socket to reveal wire connectors. Continue to unscrew some screws to reveal the old cord.

To conduct a lamp cord replacement, you also have to know how to disassemble a lamp (source: checkatrade)
To conduct a lamp cord replacement, you also have to know how to disassemble a lamp (source: checkatrade)

Step 5: Remove the Old Cord

Next, you need to identify the socket screws where the cord attaches. Then using a screwdriver or piers (if necessary) to loosen the screws and disconnect the wires from the socket. You also need to remove switches or other components connections (if any). After all, carefully remove the old cord by pulling it through the base of the lamp.

Lamp cord replacement (source: lamppartsrepair)
Lamp cord replacement (source: lamppartsrepair)

Step 6: Prepare the New Cord

Read some information to help you find the right type of cord replacement: most common types of cord are: SPT-1 and SPT-2 having a maximum load of seven amps and are available in 16- or 18-gauge sizes (having a maximum current draw of five amps, enough to power the typical 120-volt lightbulb).

Before using a scissor to cut the new cord, measure the length needed. The new lamp cord may be the same length as the old one or slightly longer. Try to cut perfectly and ensure a clean and straight edge.

Next, use wire cutters to uncoil the new lamp cord and strip about 1/2 inch of insulation (or enough for a secure connection) from each wire end.

To prevent individual strands of wire from fraying and keep them organized (especially the new lamp cord that has multiple wires, such as a hot wire and a neutral wire), gently twist each set of the wires with your fingers.

Lamp cord replacement (source: familyhandyman)
Lamp cord replacement (source: familyhandyman)

Step 7: Connect the New Cord

Examine or search carefully for entry points (typically a small hole or opening designed for the cord to pass through). Gently insert the new cord through the hole and push it from the lamp base, ensuring that the cord is away from or not tangled with any moving components or other internal connections. 

When the new cord is located at the right place, reconnect the cord to the corresponding terminals on the socket or other internal wire connection. Tighten securely with the screwdriver. Take care to avoid any sharp edges or moving parts that could potentially damage the cord.

Double-check that the connections are snug and the bare wires don't touch each other.

Lamp cord replacement (source: instructables)
Lamp cord replacement (source: instructables)

Step 8: Secure the Cord

Wrap the connections with electrical tape to insulate them completely. Carefully tuck the excess cord within the lamp base. Be sure that there is no exposed wire or connections.

Wrapping the exposed cord by electrical tap (source: istock)
Wrapping the exposed cord by electrical tap (source: istock)

Step 9: Reassemble the Lamp

Reassemble the lamp in the reverse order you took it apart. Commonly start with the lamp base, locate components back together in their original positions. Tighten all screws securely. Once the lamp base is stable, the stand fits securely, placing the lampshade back onto the lamp. Carefully adjust to make sure it gains proper balance and alignment.

Reassembling the lamp after completing the lamp cord replacement (source: lamppartsrepair)
Reassembling the lamp after completing the lamp cord replacement (source: lamppartsrepair)

Step 10: Test the Lamp

Plug the lamp back into the outlet and turn it on, check for the light whether it is flickering or not. Confirm that the lamp is working in good condition and there is no unusual sound. Test other functions and features such as adjustable brightness or multiple settings.

Check if the lamp works properly or not (source: istock)
Check if the lamp works properly or not (source: istock)

If it is a led lamp, please read how to test a led light at home to know your lamp is still working properly.

Reading till now and you are still confused about how to replace a lamp cord, then you should watch this video.

Safety Precautions When Replacing a Lamp Cord

Remember to unplug the lamp before replacing the lamp cord (source: pinterest)
Remember to unplug the lamp before replacing the lamp cord (source: pinterest)

When working with electrical appliances, please prioritize your safety on top. If you are a careless person, you better search for professional help. Otherwise, if you are confident with your cautiousness, you still need to read these safety precautions:

  • Disconnect the lamp from any power source: The power must be turned off before any further actions to save yourself from any possibility of electrical shock.
  • Cooling the light bulbs: Be conscious about the heat of the bulb, let it cool down before touching it, especially when you just use it before fixing it.
  • Work in a well-lit area: Be more productively and correctly, avoid damaging things.
  • Inspect the lamp for any other visible damage or loose connection: To get the best result or enhance your safety, you should examine the lamp whether it has signs of other problems or not to determine the appropriate order of repair.
  • Use the appropriate lamp cord: Ensure the new cord is the correct size for the bulb's wattage and made from high-quality materials. Moreover, the length should suit your needs and the style of the lamp.
  • Secure connections: Ensure the connections are tight and secure; use electrical tape to cover the exposed wire connectors.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, lamp cord replacement may not be a difficult process if you follow the step-by-step guideline below. And it is not dangerous at all if you keep in mind the Safety Precaution that we have already prepared for you. We hope that after reading this article, the lamp cord replacement is no longer a nightmare but a really enjoyable experience.

FAQs

How long can a lamp cord be?

Overall, a lamp cord has a long life span, excepting some special situations such as: your pets chew or bite the cord, you accidentally destroy it by squeezing it under the chair's wheels or electrical problems occur.

Can I replace a power cord on a lamp?

Definitely, replacing a power cord on a lamp is similar to a lamp cord replacement process. If you need assistance, ask for professional help.

Can I replace a lamp cord?

Replacing a lamp cord by yourself is doing something at your own risk, you should do it if you find yourself confident and comfortable. Moreover, you need to equip yourself with knowledge and safety precautions well before changing a lamp cord.

What is the difference between a plug and a cord?

A cord made from various materials including: copper, aluminum, and fiber optic, often has an insulation coat cover. A cord is beneficial for many purposes: connecting electrical appliances to power sources, connecting a computer to a printer or a stereo system to speakers.

A plug is used to connect an appliance to the power source so it is structured to fit into electrical outlets, allowing electricity to be transferred through it to the cord.

Can you fix a lamp cord without replacing it?

Once a lamp cord is damaged, it must be replaced to ensure safety. Attempting to repair a damaged cord may not be safe or effective. In cases where the cord is slightly damaged but still intact, you may be able to make minor repairs such as:

  • Splicing: If a small section of the cord is damaged, you can cut out that portion and splice the remaining sections together using wire nuts or butt splices. 
  • Electrical Tape: For minor nicks or minor insulation damage, wrapping electrical tape around the affected area can provide a temporary fix. 

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Author

I work as a freelance blogger in Seattle, Washington. I've been freelancing full-time for 5 years. I'm interested in anime, resin art, and mechanical keyboards.

amy-golden

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