Ceiling Fan Switch Replacement

DEAR MIKE: I have a ceiling fan light kit with a pull-chain that turns the light on or off. The problem is that the pull-chain is frozen and won't pull to turn the lights on or off. How can I go about getting the light to work? -- Darren H.

DEAR DARREN: I won't yank your chain on this one. This repair is easy: the switch needs to be replaced.

The switch can be purchased at any home center for a few dollars. It is as big around as a quarter and has two wires sticking out of the back of it. On the front of the switch is the pull-chain.

You will need to gain access to the switch, which is located inside the cover of the light kit. There will be a couple of screws that hold the cover to the ceiling fan. Support the lights as you remove them from the fan.

As you remove the light kit, you will see the wiring that connects the lights to the fan. You won't be able to remove the lights completely until you disconnect the wiring.

On some fans, there is a harness that contains all of the wiring. This harness is simply a plastic plug that connects the wiring. Pull the harness apart and then remove the light kit.

Some older fans will not use a harness, but instead will use wire nuts. Label the wires so that you can put them back together correctly, and then unscrew the wire nuts.

You will be able to follow the pull-chain from outside the light's housing to the switch.

The two switch wires will be connected to the wires of the light kit. Label these wires before you remove the switch. If the wiring is attached with wire nuts, it is a simple matter of unscrewing the nuts and replacing the wires of the old switch with the wires of the new switch.

If you have a harness and the switch wires are secured inside the harness, you will have to cut the wires of the old switch and use wire nuts to secure the wires of the new one. Cut the two wires of the old switch near the switch rather than near the harness. Strip three-eighths of an inch off the wires and twist on a wire nut.

The switch is held in place by a decorative retaining nut on the outside of the housing. Unscrew the nut and remove the switch. Thread the chain through the housing and then through the retaining nut and screw on the nut.

Place the light kit back up to the fan and reconnect the wiring. Replace the screws to secure the light kit to the fan and you can yank your chain all day long. 

Need Help? Contact Us!