If you have an antique lamp, it commonly has two sockets that will need rewiring to make it safer. Older lamps commonly use cords with woven insulation, which is prone to fraying. Frayed wires are a fire hazard. You don't need advanced electrical knowledge to rewire a two-socket lamp. Here are some tips to rewire an antique two-socket lamp.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • Phillips or flat-head screwdriver
  • black electrical tape
  • utility knife
  • wire cutters
  • wire strippers
  • UL-rated replacement cord with plug

Disconnect the power cord, and cut the cord with wire cutters. Detach the lamp harp by pressing the sides toward each other, then raise the harp from the lamp. Remove the shade, and detach the base from the stand using a screwdriver to remove the screws. If the base has felt, pull it off.

Remove the Sockets

Pull the socket sleeve from the sockets by grasping the sleeve with your hand, and rocking it back and forth. Untwist the screws to expose the wiring, and pull it from under the sockets.

Untie the knot in the wiring to separate it. Lamp wiring uses an "underwriter's knot" to secure the wire in the lamp.

Pull the old wiring down and out of the stand, and unscrew the stand, if necessary to remove the wire. Unscrew the sockets from the caps, or loosen the screw with the screwdriver to remove the sockets.

Install the New Cord

Cut two lengths of cord the same length as the lamp. Run the free end of one cord through the base, then to the top through where the socket attaches. Insert the other cord in the same manner.

If the cord doesn't have split wires on the ends, cut the single wire into two wires with the utility knife. Trim about one-fourth inch of the insulation from each wire using the wire strippers.

Strip about one-fourth of insulation from the wires inside the lamp, then cut two inches from the membrane on the socket cap. Reinsert the sleeve.  Make an underwriter's knot by looping the left wire of one socket, hold it on back right side the lamp cord. Make a loop with the right wire, and hold it on the front left side of the cord.

Insert the right wire end through the left wire loop, and pull it tight. Repeat with the left wire. Pull both ends to secure the knot.

The rough or ridged wire is neutral, and the smooth wire is hot. Connect the free ends of the neutral wires to the silver screw, and the positive wires to the brass screw.

Twist the positive wires on one socket together, and attach a connector. Add electrical tape around the connector. Twist the neutral wires together, then add a connector and electrical tape. Repeat on the other socket.

Reattach the base, harp, and shade. Plug in the lamp to test. If the lamp doesn't work, or you don't trust your skill, contact an electrician like those at Action Electric.

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