When your lamp stops working, the first thing to try is replacing the light bulb.
If the lamp still does not work despite the new bulb, then it is likely you have a faulty lamp switch.
If your lamp has an inline cord switch then you are in luck, because these are relatively cheap and easy to replace.
This guide goes over each step in replacing a lamp cord switch, scroll down to get into it!
How To Replace a Lamp Cord Switch
In this guide, we will explain how to replace a lamp cord switch.
This guide can also serve as instructions for how to install a lamp cord switch on a lamp that doesn’t currently have one. Just start from step 2 and cut the existing lamp cord where you want to install the switch.
It should be noted that you may be working on equipment that carries dangerous levels of voltage when plugged in.
Always ensure the lamp is unplugged from the power outlet before starting work, and if you are unsure about anything it is best to stop and get professional assistance.
What You Will Need
Step 1: Remove Old Switch
The first step is to unplug the lamp from the power outlet!
Next, we need to remove the old lamp switch.
Depending on the brand and type of the lamp and switch, you will either be able to open the switch up with a screwdriver and unscrew the wires, but some switches are sealed shut after manufacturing, so you may need to cut the cord as close as possible to the lamp cord switch.
Unless your cord is already on the short side, I recommend not bothering with opening the old switch up and cutting the cord instead. It will save you a lot of time.
Step 2: Strip Wires
This next step is done in two parts: measuring and wire stripping.
The first part is to measure and mark the cord so you know where to strip it to.
Accurate measuring and wire stripping is important to ensure your lamp switch is wired up safely and won’t put pressure on the actual connection. An incorrectly stripped cord may lead to exposed live wires.
First, you will need to take the cover off your new lamp cordline switch, this will likely be done via screw on the back, but it is possible it may just me plastic clips holding it together.
Take a look at the annotated photo above.
Number 1 is where to sit the end of your cord – you want the end of it to be just over the screw terminals.
Number 2 is where we want to remove our outer cord sheath too. So mark this with your wire cutters or a pen.
If your lamp cord is double insulated (has an additional layer of insulating material covering the inner insulated wires), take your wire cutters and carefully nick around the outer sheath. Be very careful not to go to deep or you will cut into the inner wires – if you do cut into the inner wires you will need to cut the cord off and start again.
Use your wire cutters, or a pair of plyers to pull the outer sheath off the cord. It should come away fairly easily, if it doesn’t then you probably have not cut through it properly.
Tip: I highly recommend the Irwin Vise Grip Cutting Pliers. These are a great tool and a must have for any serious DIYer.
Once the outer sheath is removed, you can strip just enough of the inner wires to expose enough copper to slide into the screw terminals. Do not expose too much copper or your measurements will be out and you may cause a short circuit in the cord switch. It should look like the image below.
Step 3: Connect Terminals
Now undo the screw terminals, and insert the stripped wires. If you have already connected one side of the switch, then make sure you match the colors of the wires correctly.
Tighten up the screw terminals with your screwdriver. Ensure that the wires are firmly held.
Step 4: Reassemble
Once your wires are securely in the screw terminals, double check that you have the colored wires matched up and that nothing is shorting out (wires touching etc).
If all looks ok then put the cover back on the new lamp cord switch and screw/clip it shut.
Lastly, do one final inspection of the switch. Ensure that no bare wires are showing and that the switch looks and feels solid and safe.
If all is well, then plug the lamp in and test it.
15 thoughts on “How To Replace a Lamp Cord Switch Quickly and Easily”
Hi Aaron. Thanks for the very helpful tutorial. The two wires on my lamp flex are both white so I can’t be sure to match them us as they were originally. Will this matter?
It shouldn’t matter, as you are just creating a circuit for the electricity to flow through. But if you are unsure, you should get it repaired by a qualified technician.
Thanks. I thought it was probably ok but good to have another more knowledgeable opinion
Wow, exactly what I was searching for on switch repair.
Hi. Thanks for the tutorial. I have an old lamp that has 3 wires. A yellow & green one, a blue one and a brown one. The only inline switches I can find are for 2 wires. Any ideas please?
One of those wires is probably an earth wire, and it doesn’t need to be switched. So it just needs to be joined somehow.
OMG THANK YOU! I have a cherished “chandelier” style table lamp that suddenly began to flicker and then stopped lighting. I was crushed to think that my gorgeous lamp would end up in the trash pile, or that I would have to find someone to repair it for me. Since reading your “How-to” and especially paying attention to the pictures, I have now ordered the replacement inline switch. The advice to simply cut the wire as close to the switch as possible is worth the price of admission! My current switch has NO SCREWS, but rather is some sort of clamp together design. Cutting will save me the headache of prying it open. The replacement does have a screw. Thanks again! Fingers crossed that I can make the repair.
Thank you for this very helpful lesson. The pictures are excellent. I was ready to discard my lamp or pay someone a lot to repair this very simple problem I feel certain I can do myself, thanks to your illustrations.
Glad we could help, Bob!
Dear Aaron, My lamp switch like yours above (older style but the same) isn’t working. I live near the U.S., but overseas so have to order a switch & wait. I think the old switch’s contacts aren’t making a connection, but how do they look when new/ working? I can remove the rocker, under that is what I would call the connector(?) – a small rectangular brass bit that is lays under the rocker & when the switch is pressed on, a dot underneath would touch a dot going to the wire … if that makes sense. The metal dots look worn down to me. Maybe I can rig something (bit of foil? solder?) until new switch arrives. Thanks very much. Kay
Hi Kay, Sorry for my slow reply. In the future you could ask in our facebook group here for a faster response.
It’s hard to tell without seeing it, but it could be numerous things. You could bypass the switch altogether until a replacement comes – but you want to make sure you know what you are doing as it could be dangerous if done incorrectly.
Thank you, Aaron, for the info regarding replacement switches. I am in the US, so I will try ordering the switches you recommend. Sorry it took me so long to respond! ~ Linda 🙂
No problem! Hope it works out – be sure to let me know!
I am looking for this exact type of replacement switch, since I need to attach the cord in the same manner.
Would you please send me the specific brand and/or stock number for a switch like the one used in this photos above?
Hi Linda, Where are you located? I am in Australia so if you are in the USA then it might be hard to find the exact switch. If you are in the USA, then this one is similar.
If you are in Australia, then the switch is available from Bunnings. It is this one.