How to Fix a Chain That Pulled Out on a Ceiling Light

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Light fixtures that use chain-pull switches are usually found in basements, attics and closets. When the chain pulls out of the switching device, the replacement of the switch is necessary. Chain-pull operated lighting has a dedicated electrical power supply wired directly to the fixture without an in-line switch installed. Because of the dedicated circuit, the light may be on all the time or off. Either way, you can repair the broken chain-pull fixture with a few tools, materials and basic electrical wiring know-how.

Things You'll Need

  • Stepladder
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Voltage tester
  • Electrical tape
  • Turn the circuit breaker that supplies power to the light circuit to the "Off" position at the main panel. Mark the breaker to notify others of the work being done.

  • Remove the globe that encloses the bulb if one exists. The globes are usually held in place by three or four thumbscrews.

  • Remove the screws that hold the fixture in place with the appropriate screwdriver. Position a stepladder constructed of non-metallic materials as needed for the work.

  • Allow the fixture to be suspended by the electrical wires. Remove the two wire nuts from the switch wires taking care not to touch the bare wires.

  • Test the wiring with a voltage tester to verify that no power exists. Touch one probe of the tester to the black hot wire and the other to the white neutral wire.

  • Turn the switch chain guide cap on the outside of the fixture counterclockwise and remove it. This will release the pull chain switch from the fixture.

  • Disconnect the two pull chain switch wires. One wire is connected to the black hot wire from the power supply and the other is connected to the light socket wire.

  • Remove the old pull chain switch from the fixture.

  • Insert the chain of the new switch through the hole on the side of the fixture followed by the threads of the switch itself. Place the chain guide nut over the chain and onto the threads of the switch. Tighten the nut clockwise by hand.

  • Connect the black wire from the power supply to either of the two wires from the pull chain switch with a wire nut. Tighten the nut clockwise by hand.

  • Connect the wire from the light socket to the remaining wire on the pull chain switch with a wire nut. Tighten the wire nut clockwise.

  • Push the wires back into the ceiling electrical box. Secure the fixture screws to the box with a screwdriver. Tighten clockwise.

  • Install a new light bulb into the light socket and replace the globe if applicable.

  • Attach a longer chain or string to a suitable length as needed. Ball chains use snap-on connectors that are available at your local hardware store or home center.

  • Restore power to the light circuit and remove all markings from the breaker.

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