How to Replace a Pull-Chain Light Fixture

Install a new fixture safely and quickly

Pull chain light fixtures are easy to replace when the switch wears out or breaks. We show you how to replace it safely and quickly. It'll only take about 15 minutes.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

TIME

Instant!

COMPLEXITY

Simple

COST

Under $20

Replace the bad pull-chain fixture

Pull-chain light fixtures are handy for basements and storage areas—until they quit working. The internal switch mechanism can wear out, or pulling too hard on the cord can snap the chain or completely pull it out of the fixture. Replacing the broken fixture is simple and inexpensive (available at any home center or hardware store). Pull-chain fixtures are made from either plastic or porcelain, but we recommend the porcelain because it withstands heat better and lasts longer.

Before starting, flip the circuit breaker or pull the fuse to disconnect the power to the light, then test to make sure the power is off (Photo 1). Replace the broken fixture as shown in Photos 2 and 3. There may be an unused bare ground wire inside the electrical box. If it falls down while you’re replacing the fixture, wrap it in a circle and push it up as far into the electrical box as possible.

CAUTION

Aluminum wiring requires special handling. If you have aluminum wiring, call in a licensed pro who's certified to work with it. This wiring is dull gray, not the dull orange that's characteristic of copper.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Voltage tester
  • Wire stripper/cutter
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Pull-chain fixture