The wiring inside a lamp can be difficult to figure out, especially when you add more bulbs. But you can do it with some patience and a few simple steps. Getting the wires right is important for safety and for ensuring that your lamps will operate as they should, without overheating or breaking down.
Start by completely disassembling your lamp, including removing the shade and unscrewing the bulb. Then, remove the socket shell (and cardboard insulator) from the socket cap. Depending on the style of socket, this may be easy or more difficult to do. If you have a hard time, consider using a flat-head screwdriver as a prybar to pop the shell apart while you use your thumbs to push the top of the shell up, separating the outer metal shell and the cardboard insulator.
You’ll also need a multimeter and rubber insulated gloves to protect your hands from the electrical current running through the hot wire. Once you have the plug removed, test each of the wires with your negative multimeter probe against a grounded part of your home or any piece of metal you can find close by (like a screw).
Turn the dial on your multimeter to AC voltage, which is represented by the letters “V” or “VAC.” If you don’t know what this means, ask at your local hardware store for help. If you can, provide them with the type of lamp you’re working with.
Once you’ve figured out what the correct power settings are, you can start to connect each wire of the lamp cord. The neutral wire, which makes your multimeter beep or show a low Ohm value, is the one you should test first.
Next, you should connect the two bare ends of the neutral wires to each other. Ideally, you should do this with a wire nut. This is because you don’t want the wires to short out, as this can cause a dangerous electric shock.
Alternatively, you can wrap the bare ends of each wire together around each of the screws in the metal socket base. This will connect all the sockets to the main lamp cord and the lamp base.
You can also connect the bare ends of both hot and neutral wires to each other to complete the connections. This will ensure that all the sockets will be connected to the lamp cord, and that the entire lamp will work as it should.
This is a very easy way to get the neutral and hot wires on your lamp cord connected correctly, and it can save you from rewiring your lamp later. However, you should be sure that you do this correctly to avoid any problems down the road.
After all the wires are connected, you can install a new plug. If you’re not sure what kind of plug you need, ask a representative at your local hardware store for advice. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not you need a clamp-style flat-cord plug or a two-prong round-cord plug.