DEAR MIKE: I have a table lamp that no longer works. I love the lamp and don't want to replace it, but it just won't light. I have tested the outlet and it works fine, and have tried a bulb that I know works, so the problem must be in the lamp itself. What can I do? -- Doug G.
DEAR DOUG: My brother was having problems getting the old bulb lit, but I think he went to the doctor for help.
Before you set out to repair the lamp, make sure the bulb is making contact with the socket. In the bottom of the socket is a gold tab that provides power to the bulb. It may be that this is the culprit.
Unplug the lamp and stick a standard screwdriver under the tab. Goose the tab upwards and screw the bulb back in.
If this doesn't work, you probably need to replace one of three parts: the socket, the switch or the cord. This is an easy job and with the love you profess for your lamp, change all three for years of trouble-free service.
Start by removing the shade. It is held on by a decorative nut at the top of the lamp. Next, remove the harp (the heavy wire lamp shade holder that loops around the top of the light bulb). Just lift the caps at the base of the harp and squeeze -- the harp will lift right out of its holder.
Pry the socket away from its base with a small screwdriver (make sure the lamp is unplugged). The socket will have two screws, one for each wire of the cord. Unscrew the terminals and remove the socket.
The base will be held on with a setscrew or nut, or it may just thread on to a rod that runs down the center of the lamp (the cord resides in this rod). Remove the socket base and pull out the cord.
The lamp switch will be located either in the socket or the cord. It can be moved from one to the other easily enough. Just buy the right parts and you're home free. You can buy each part individually, or as a kit that contains a socket, a switch, and a cord for about $8.
Feed the cord through the base of the lamp and up to the top of the threaded rod. Incidentally, this rod will have a nut on the top and another at the base of the lamp to hold it in place. If the lamp is tall, you may need to use a fishtape (used to pull wire through tight places) to pull the cord through. If you don't have fishtape, straighten a metal coat hangar, tape the end of the cord to it, and pull it through.
Cut off about half an inch of the insulation from the ends of the cord. The cord is essentially two wires connected by plastic. Separate the cord wires at the end by gently pulling them apart. You need about three inches to work with.
Place the new socket base over the wires and attach it to the end of the threaded rod. Loosely tie the two wires together to form a loose knot. This knot will prevent the cord wires from being pulled off of the screw terminals inside the socket.
About the trickiest part of this repair is connecting the cord wires to the socket. You want to connect the neutral wire (the one that leads from the wider prong on the plug) to the silver terminal. Follow the wire up from the plug and connect it by wrapping it clockwise around the terminal. Do the same for the other wire on the brass terminal.
Push the socket into its base, stick the harp back on and reattach the lampshade.
If the socket doesn't have a switch, it will need to be added to the cord. It's a simple matter of pushing the switch into the cord.
The switch unscrews and has two barbs inside of it. Lay the cord over the two barbs, put the top of the switch back on and screw it down.