Lamp Socket Defective

Problem: The bulb flickers or will not work in a lamp, even though other lamps work using the same receptacle.

Background: Lamp sockets, especially those with switches, are liable to failure, and can be replaced relatively easily. Replacements are available for major types, which include those with twist knobs, push knobs, and pull chains. Often re placements come in blister-packs, with instructions on the back. The parts of a lamp socket include the outer shell with insulating sleeve in side; the socket, which has 2 terminals; and the cap which also has an insulated liner. The outer shell, which holds the socket, clips into the cap by pressure.

What to do: Use proper electrical safety procedures, and make sure lamp is unplugged from receptacle. To replace a socket, first remove the shade and harp (the metal part that holds the shade). Squeeze the outer shell to remove from the cap; it should be marked “press” in an area near its base. Note the position of the wires, then remove wires from screw terminals. (With a newer lamp cord, 1 of the 2 wires may have ridged insulation covering; this wire goes under the silver screw while the other goes under the brass screw.) Fit the new socket inside the outer shell with it’s insulating sleeve, and lock the unit back into the cap.

Special advice: Before replacing the socket, first look for the other possible problems. Try plugging the lamp into another outlet, and also try a new bulb. If it doesn’t work, check the plug and the cord carefully to see that they are in good shape. If they appear to be functional, unplug the lamp and remove the bulb. Scrape the contact with a screwdriver, and pry it up if it appears to be flattened. Insert bulb and try it again. If it still doesn’t work, replace the socket.

Helpful hint: If you see that the cord is frayed or damaged, be sure to re pair (or preferably replace) it be cause dangerous shocks may result, especially if you handle the lamp while standing on a wet floor.