How to Wire a Pull Chain Switch

Pull chain light switches are inexpensive switches often made of plastic with nickel or brass fittings to complement the color of your light fixture.

Pull chains or cords may have decorative beads for gripping.Pull chains or cords may have decorative beads for gripping.
The constant use of the pull chain switch can cause the light switch to break, leaving a light permanently on or off. Pull chain light switches are universal and not specific to any one manufacturer. Save some money by replacing this inexpensive switch rather than replacing the entire light fixture.

Disconnect the electricity to the pull chain light fixture at the main breaker panel. Locate the breaker that supplies electricity to the light fixture and turn it off.

Remove the light shade and the light bulbs if applicable. Remove the screws to the light fixture holding it to the ceiling electrical box.

Pull the fixture from the ceiling and untwist the wire connectors holding the white wire from the light fixture and the white wire from the ceiling electrical box together. Untwist the connector holding the two black wires together, the one from the ceiling box and one from the light fixture pull chain switch. Finish disconnecting the light fixture from the ceiling by untwisting the connector holding the bare copper wire from the ceiling electrical box to the green ground wire from the light fixture.

Move your light fixture to a sturdy work surface. Untwist the retaining nut from the exterior of the light fixture that holds the pull chain switch. The chain from the switch threads through the retaining nut for easy identification.

Untwist the connector holding a black wire from the pull chain switch to the black wire from the light fixture. The pull chain switch has two black wires attached to it. One wire connects to the power supply wire inside the electrical box and the other wire connects to the light fixture.

Remove the old pull chain switch from the light fixture and discard it. Insert the threaded throat of a replacement pull chain switch through the opening you removed the old switch from. Thread the chain through the retaining nut and attach the nut to the threaded throat of the switch, turning it clockwise.

Connect the black wire from the light fixture to a black wire from the pull chain switch by twisting an orange wire connector onto both wires.

Twist an orange wire connector to the black wire from the ceiling electrical box to the remaining black wire of the pull chain switch, connecting them together. Reconnect the two white wires together with another orange wire connector. Twist an orange wire connector onto the bare copper wire from the ceiling electrical box connecting it with the green wire from the light fixture.

Reattach the light fixture to the ceiling electrical box with the screws you removed in Step 2. Replace the light bulbs and the light shade onto the light fixture. Turn the electricity on at the main electrical breaker panel.

Things You Will Need

  • Phillips or slotted screwdriver
  • 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.