Don't let an old chandelier die due to disrepair. Revive it with these simple repair tricks.

June 18, 2018

Older chandeliers often need repair. Many were manufactured with little regard to the heat the bulbs produce, and larger bulbs than recommended have often been installed. Overheating makes the wire insulation brittle. A typical fixture has cord running through tubes to the bulb sockets, allowing several opportunities for malfunctions.

Because sockets and the wires attached to them are near a hot bulb and often enclosed, they deteriorate. If all the lights do not work, the stem wire probably needs to be replaced. If some wiring needs to be replaced, consider rewiring the entire fixture—it won't take much longer.

If only one light fails to come on, try pulling up the contact tab inside the socket. Vacuum dust from the socket. If the bulb still does not light, remove the socket and test it.

A chandelier is often suspended by a chain, which must be securely anchored to the box hardware. The main wires run from the box down through the chain to a junction box. There they connect to wires that lead to individual light sockets.

Expect to spend nearly 3 hours dismantling, testing, and running new wires in a chandelier. You'll need to know how to test for power and strip and connect wires. Before you begin, line up a helper to assist with removing the fixture and lay a drop cloth on a work surface to cushion the fixture as you work on it.

  • Working time 3 hrs
  • Start to finish 3 hrs
  • Difficulty Kind of Hard
  • Involves Electrical Skills

What you need


How to do it

Step 1

Shut Off Power

Shut off power to the circuit (in addition to flipping off the light switch). Support the chandelier. Loosen the screws or screw collar holding the canopy in place and slide it down. Pull the wires apart, restore the power temporarily, and test for power. Shut off the power again.

Step 2

Test Light

Attach a continuity tester clip to the metal threads inside the socket and touch the neutral (silver) terminal with the probe. Then clip onto the brass screw and touch the probe to the contact tab inside the socket. If the tester light does not come on for both tests, replace the socket.

Step 3

Test Wires

Disconnect the wires in the box, remove the chandelier, and place it on a work surface. Open the chandelier's junction box and pull out the wires. Test both the neutral (ribbed) and hot (smooth) wires for continuity.

Step 4

Test Stem Wires

To test the stem wires, twist them together at the junction box. At the other end attach a continuity tester clip to one wire and touch the probe to the other wire. If the tester does not glow, replace the stem wires.

Step 5

Replace Cord

To replace a cord, separate, strip, and splice the old cord to the new. Pull the old wire through until the new wire appears. Attach the new cord to the socket.


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