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Super Handyman: Rewiring an older lamp

An old lamp may look beautiful, but it can be dangerous. Rewiring it to make it safer is fairly easy in most cases. Here is how to do it, and a few extra tips you can try, too:

Unplug the lamp before doing anything to it.

Clean the whole lamp first. This is a good way to inspect it for damage and to see how it all fits together, which will come in handy for the rewiring. Use a rag with some warm, soapy water to clean all of the surfaces. If you are dealing with brass, copper or other metals, use a metal polish to give them some extra shine.

Most lamps will have a wire running through the center of the base, connecting the lamp socket to the plug. If the lamp is older, consider replacing the wire, as they do break down over time. This also will give you the option of upgrading the socket to allow for more light from a higher-wattage bulb.

Take a look at the bottom of the lamp and see if there is a cover over the base that will let you access the wiring.

Unscrew the base of the socket to access the wiring. Loosen the screws that hold the wires in place, and pull them off the terminals. Then loosen the strain relief screw, or untie the knot.

Use electrical tape to tie the new wiring to the old wiring at the top of the fixture so you can pull it through the fixture.

Once the new wire is in place, prepare the ends for the connections by stripping off the insulation and exposing the wires. Tie the Underwriter’s Knot between the end of the socket and the ends of the wires before making the connections. Bend the wires into a small loop to wind around the screws in a clockwise direction so that as you tighten the screws, the wires also will tighten. Double-check your connections to make sure they are made properly and safely.

Install a quick-connect plug on the end, and you’re done. This really is a fairly simple project, so if it sounds like something you can’t handle, get someone else to do it. Even hiring someone shouldn’t be too costly because of its simplicity. Good luck!


Q: I think I have located a small leak near the bottom of my water heater. Can I patch it with something? Or should I just replace it? – J.A.

A: You really ought to start shopping for a replacement. You can try patching it in the interim with plumber’s epoxy putty. The small leak is more than likely an early warning sign that your current water heater is nearing the end of its life. A small leak can grow quickly, so put it in next month’s budget.


Q: My driveway used to have wooden slats at the expansion joints. Over time, these have rotted, and there is nothing there any longer. Should I put new strips in? – A.P.

A: You can find rubber strips at your home-improvement center to use as a replacement. There also is a pour-in strip that can be used. These will last longer than the wooden ones.

A Super hint

When moving some items, wrap them in wide, plastic wrap, which wraps onto itself and sticks. You can use kitchen wrap, but the stuff you buy at the home center is a lot cheaper because it’s not food-grade. It prevents a lot of scratches and dings and keeps doors and drawers from swinging open.


If you have a lot of spray-painting to do, grab a CanGun1 and make it a whole lot easier. The CanGun1 Spray Can Tool fits onto a standard spray-paint can and turns it into an E-Z Pull FullGrip Trigger. It’s so much easier to handle, and it keeps your hands from getting dirty, too. It’s made in the good ol’ U.S.A. from recycled plastic. When you’re finished, snap it off and save it for your next spray-paint project. Check it out at or at your hardware store or home center.

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