Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I See the Light!

I've begun to think of this summer as the Summer of Completion. This is the summer where I finish so many tasks that I've started with good intentions over the years but never got back to because life sometimes gets in the way.

My project du jour for Monday and Tuesday was to rewire two lamps that had been sitting in the garage for several years. One lamp had a crack in the part the bulb screws into. It had a nasty habit of shocking whomever turned it on or off. The second had that mysterious condition known simply as "it used to work but now it doesn't".

Before getting into the how of rewiring a lamp let me explain the why. Why would you bother rewiring a lamp when you could run down to Target and buy a new one. First of all, both of these lamps are very rustic and fit in well with my Adirondack style decor. Second, replacing them would cost significantly more than rewiring them. Third, I can't get behind the mindset of the disposable society we belong to. If it can be fixed, we should always choose fixing as our first solution. Sermon over, now for the how.

My first task was to take the socket off and see if the cord was the problem. I cut the cord at the base of the socket in the hopes of being able to reuse it if it was intact. I pulled the cords completely out of the lamps to do this. One of the lamp cords had a spot where the insulation was worn away near where the socket had been. Cutting this part away I was still left with plenty of cord.

I headed to the hardware store to get a new socket. I only bought one figuring if I could fix one, I'd walk down and get the parts for the other the next day. The replacement socket came with instructions for changing it printed right on it. My only complaint is they were in microscopic print. I followed them and when I plugged in the lamp it actually worked!

The second lamp wasn't near as cooperative. The socket was plastic and glued in place. Everytime I tried to remove it another piece broke off and stabbed into my hand. A few shots with a hammer got rid of the remains of the socket and a lot of my aggression as well. Once the socket was removed I was left with a threaded but odd sized opening. The replacement socket wasn't going to fit on this. This lamp also had a plug in the bottom that held the cord in place and didn't allow me to remove it until I pulled it out with a pair of pliers.

I headed back to my local hardware store, explained my problem and handed over my lamp as proof. The great thing about a little, local store like this one is the guy took his time and helped me find exactly what I needed, a hollow threaded bolt and a hollow wide to small nut (both of which I'm sure have fancy names that I don't know).

More confident in my skills the second time, I rewired this lamp in a jiffy.

Ok girls, lean in close, this is where I make a confession. I was pretty confident about doing the lamps until it came time to actually start the first one. Then I stalled, called my husband, perused a home repair manual and stalled a little more. Then, as is often my habit, I got pissed off.

Why couldn't I just try this? What was the worst that could happen? The worst I could come up with was getting a shock or blowing a breaker and neither one seemed like such a big deal. The first one took me at least an hour and a phone call to my husband. The second one about 10 minutes solo. If I can do it, you can too!

Here are some links to get you started on your rewiring project. If anyone has a favorite link, let me know and I'll post it here as well.


Chile said...

"Why couldn't I just try this?"

Oh man, that is my theme song. (See today's post as proof!) I often find something cool in a thrift store, get all jazzed about it, bring it home, and then....nothing. It sits in the box, gathering dust, because I don't want to take it out and try it. Perhaps for me it's the fear of disappointment, that it won't do all that I've built it up to do in my head.

For the lamps, I'd try it, but only if my sweetie double-checked my work after I finished to make sure I wasn't going to burn the house down. I am not mechanically inclined. He is. (And, to his credit, he rarely burns food anymore...)

James said...

Great Job!

Another link you might be able to use is I've learned lots of things on this site. Very good directions with pictures.

And are you going to take pictures of the lamps, now that they are working?


AMCSviatko said...

Before rewiring a lamp you'll need to check if it's legal in your country. I believe, here in Australia it's illegal to do it unless you're a certified electrician...

Monica said...

Hi Katie!

I am new to blogging and found your site. I also am a group fitness instructor and LOVE to be frugal. Visit if you have a chance.

Katie said...

I totally understand the fear of disappointment preventing you from getting started Chile. It's utterly paralyzing!

Thanks James, I'll post pictures soon.

It's definitely legal in the US but that's very interesting about Australia.