Table lamps can be a focal point of a room’s decor, but over time their cords can become worn or even frayed. The good news is that you can give any lamp a fresh look and improved functionality by rewiring it, a simple project that should only take about half an hour. Rewiring also makes a lamp safer to use, especially around children and pets.
Before you begin, make sure the lamp is unplugged and that there are no broken parts. Clear off a work surface and lay out some towels to protect the table and prevent the lamp from rolling as you work on it. If possible, rewire a light with an outlet in close proximity so you can plug it in and test it afterward to be sure the rewired cord works.
To begin, remove the lamp shade and harp (the metal stanchion that supports the lightbulb). Squeeze the socket shell at switch to separate it from the cardboard insulator. Unscrew the socket cap and pull out as much of the wire attached to it as you can.
If the old wire doesn’t offer resistance when you tug on it, you can skip this step. If it does, though, loosen the socket’s terminal screws with a screwdriver and slide out the old cord. If you’re reusing the same plug, note which ends are hot and which is neutral so you can connect the new cord properly.
Alternatively, you can install a new plug on the end of the cord. When you do, make sure it’s a polarized plug (which has one blade that’s wider than the other) so it fits into an outlet only one way.
If you’re reusing the old cord, cut it about 12 inches from the lamp’s base, slit the two conductors apart and strip about an inch of insulation off each end. If you’re using a new cord, feed the exposed wires through the center post of the new socket and into its terminals, being careful not to expose any of the bare wire. Connect the neutral wire to the wider blade of the plug and the hot wire to the smaller blade. If you have trouble determining which wire is which, read the label on the cord. Usually, the copper-colored wire is the hot wire and the silver-colored or white cord is the neutral. If you’re still unsure, read the instructions that came with the new cord or contact the manufacturer for assistance.