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Tips and Techniques For DIY Lighting Projects

lamp socket safety

Is Your Lamp Socket Safe?

 Incandescent light bulbs generate a lot of heat, much of which is transferred to the socket itself. Over time, and with repeated use, this can lead to a faulty socket.  If your socket looks like the one on the right, IT IS NOT SAFE! Replacing an old socket with a New Socket is easy to do and will give you peace of mind from a safety standpoint.

lamp rewiring diagram

Lamp Wiring Basics

If you are rewiring a lamp, you will need to use an 18/2, SPT 1 cord.  This is an 18 gage wire with 2 cords inside a plastic sheath. An SPT 1 wire is a little slimmer and slicker than an SPT 2, making it easier to snake through narrow lamp tubbing.  When attaching the cord to a new socket, make certain that the "hot" wire (which is usually black or smooth sided on a solid colored lamp cord) is connected to the gold colored terminal post (gold colored screw head) on the socket. Also, make certain that the "neutral" wire (which is usually white or is ribbed on a solid colored lamp cord) is connected to the silver terminal post (silver colored screw head) on the socket. Just remember; Gold is Hot, Silver is Not!  Cords that are the same color will usually have a ribbed indentation on the "neutral leg" of the cord and are smooth on the "hot" side of the cord. Be sure to wrap the cord clockwise around the terminal post, which will turn in the same direction when tightened

how to remove lamp socket sleeve

How to Remove a Stubborn Lamp Socket Sleeve


Sometimes, the biggest obstacle in rewiring a vintage lamp is simply getting the old socket sleeve off. The best way is to use a small flathead screwdriver and pry it open on either side of the opening there the stem (turn knob) comes out, just below the "Push Here" mark on the side. It's also helpful to push back at the top at the same time. (See arrows in picture)If all else fails, soak it overnight with some spray lubricant or WD-40 a

Wattage Warning Label

Always Pay Close Attention to Socket Sleeve Wattage Labels! They tell you the maximum wattage recommendations for the bulb to be used in it. A Bulb that has a Higher Wattage than the  Recommendations  on the Socket Sleeve Cover can Easily Overheat, Causing a  Cord Discoloration like the one pictured here. This is Not Safe!

Lamp socket safty

Lamp socket safty

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lamp socket safty

Is Your Lamp Socket a Standard or a 3 Way?

It's easy to tell whether you have a standard or 3-way socket. Simply remove the bulb and look at the base of your socket. All Sockets have a copper colored prong in the center of the socket like the one on the left in this picture. However, a 3-way socket has an extra off-set silver colored prong to engage a 3-way bulb. For additional information on DIY Lighting Projects, Check out the "Tips & Techniques" page on out website. 🔌

What is a Socket Insulator?

An insulator is a molded paper sleeve that snugly fits between your lamp socket (as well as the live wires connected to it) and the metal socket sleeve on the outside. With repeated use and the constant exposure to heat, these paper insulators can become dried out and brittle, causing the live wires inside to become dangerously close to the metal sleeve on the outside. This condition can cause an electrical shock, a blown out socket or worse. Be sure to check the condition of your Paper Insulators when replacing your socket.

unsafe lamp socket insulators