How to replace a pull string in a light

You may find a pull-string light fixture if you’ve recently moved into an older home. These were often installed because they were quicker and more affordable than wall-switched light fixtures. While they may not be as popular now, they can still be a practical option for your home until you’re ready to upgrade your home’s wiring.

In the meantime, the pull strings, also known as a chain pull light switch, can become dirty from decades of usage, or they can break. When you encounter this, you may want to know how to change a light pull cord. We’ve got your back!

How to replace the pull string

If you find that the pull string on your light fixture is broken, don’t worry! This is a simple fix that anyone can do. Just follow these steps:

  1. You should find a small plastic grommet towards the top of the cord. Push the existing cord up through the grommet. You’ll see the string has a small knot tied at the top.
  2. Cut the knot away, allowing you to pull the old cord out of the grommet.
  3. Next, thread the new pull cord through the hole in the grommet and push it through far enough that you can tie a knot in the end.
  4. Once the knot is tied, pull the cord back down. The knot should disappear inside the grommet and remain unseen.

What to do if the pull string is stuck

You now know how to change a light pull cord string. However, sometimes the light fitting has a problem and needs to be replaced. If you find the pull cord switch broken, you will need to replace it to operate the light correctly. Here’s how.

  1. After ensuring that your voltage tester works, turn off the power supply.
  2. For a regular pull-string light fixture, undo the screws that hold the cap to the socket, giving you access to the wires behind.
  3. Test that the wires are not energised using your voltage tester. Once you have confirmed the circuit is dead, you can disconnect the live, neutral and earth wires.
  4. Unscrew and remove the old base.
  5. Take your new base and ensure the hole is sufficient to feed the wires through. If it is not, you can enlarge the hole carefully using plyers.
  6. If you are installing the same size base as the one you removed, you may be able to use the original fixing holes, but otherwise, carefully mark and drill the new holes.
  7. Attach the base to the ceiling, having first pulled the wires through,
  8. The green and yellow earth wire will connect to the terminal in the back of the box. Ensure you screw it down onto the wire, not the plastic sleeve.
  9. The live wire (red in older homes, brown in newer) goes into the socket marked L1. Tightly secure the screw on the wire.
  10. The Neutral wire (black in old homes, blue in new) is secured into L2.
  11. Screw the cap onto the base, check it’s secure and turn the power back on.


You’ve successfully learned how to replace a pull string in a light and what to do if the pull cord switch is broken. This is a quick and easy repair that anyone can do! Be sure to exercise caution when working with electricity. If unsure, don’t hesitate to call a professional electrician.


Can you replace just the pull chain on a light fixture?

Yes, it’s quick and easy to do. Follow our guide to learn how to replace a cord in just 4 steps.

Can you replace the string on a pull string light?

Yes. Pull strings often need replacing due to getting dirty. They are also changed to align with the room’s design plan.

How do you change a pull cord on a light?

Follow our short guide to learn how to fix a pull-string light cord. It typically takes no more than 5 minutes to replace a cord, even for a beginner, and no electrical know-how is required.

Do you need an electrician to change a pull cord?

If you are only replacing the cord, you can do this in a few minutes. If you want to replace the pull cord light fixture, this is a relatively simple process that shouldn’t cause any problems, but if you are in any doubt, contact an electrician.

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