How to Replace a Chain in a Pull-Chain Light Fixture

Frank Whittemore

A pull-chain lighting fixture incorporates a length of chain and sometimes a cord into the switch in the fixture. This allows you to turn the light on when the fixture itself is out of reach and is particularly useful in attics, basements and storage areas. The base, typically made of plastic or porcelain, is relatively simple to install. If the chain in a pull-chain fixture comes loose or the switch fails, replacing the chain switch will solve the problem. Chain switches are relatively inexpensive and available at any home improvement or hardware store.

  1. Shut off the power to the light fixture at the circuit breaker or remove the fuse from the fuse box for that circuit. Remove the light bulb from the fixture.

  2. Unscrew the screws or bolts that hold the fixture in place. Pull the fixture down, carefully, and allow it to hang by the wires attached to it.

  3. Set the volt meter to read AC current. Touch the leads of the volt meter to the wires attached to the switch in the fixture and check the meter to verify the power is off.

  4. Loosen the switch terminal screws that hold the electrical wires to the switch. Remove the wires from the switch terminal screws.

  5. Locate the brass cap on the side of the pull chain where the chain exits the switch. Loosen and remove the brass cap to release the pull-chain switch from the fixture. Remove the damaged switch.

  6. Unscrew the terminal screws on the new switch. Attach the electrical wires to the terminal screws and tighten the screws to hold the wires in place on the new switch.

  7. Return the fixture to is original location. Screw or bolt the fixture in place. Replace the light bulb. Turn on the circuit breaker or replace the fuse for the electrical circuit that serves the fixture. Pull the chain on the fixture to verify the switch operates properly.