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Can't turn my lamp on anymore
August 26, 2009 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Can't. Turn. The. Switch. On my lamp.

I have two identical table lamps bought at Crate & Barrel a year ago.

Six months ago, we found we couldn't turn the switch on one of them any more. It just wouldn't turn.

I unscrewed the black turny-thing and below it was a metal stem. I took a pair of pliers and was able to turn the stem that way, and I turned the lamp on. Then I plugged it into a power strip, and we just turn the power strip on and off to control the lamp.

This past weekend the same problem happened with the other lamp. Can't turn the switch by hand, need the pliers

I know lamps aren't that complex inside and replacing the whole switch mechanism is not that hard, but does anyone have any idea what is going on here? The switch is working, since it still turns the lamp on. It's just very hard to turn.
posted by lockedroomguy to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
 
I had a switch on my favorite desk lamp ever do the same thing and my brother said that there was some sort of spring inside the socket that failed. (He also said that it's one of those things where it's usually cheaper to just replace the whole damn lamp than fix the busted spring, but ymmv.)
posted by sperose at 6:21 PM on August 26, 2009


cheap Chinese switch go get a UL approved replacement at your local hardware or home store. It all comes apart easy.
posted by patnok at 6:21 PM on August 26, 2009


2 bucks to replace, 10 minutes to do it with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers at the most... there may also be a safety factor.. just replace it..
posted by HuronBob at 6:23 PM on August 26, 2009


As an aside...

Google lamp repair videos or DIY directions. Once you figure out how easy this lamp issue is to solve, a whole new world will open up for you! Love those garage sale or second-hand store lamps? Buy them! If they don't work or parts fail... you'll now know exactly how to fix it and where to source the parts:)

I don't really understand sperose's comment (not having seen the lamp in question!) because anything that takes an incandescent or florescent bulb should take minutes and between $5 or $15 to fix.
posted by jbenben at 7:10 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a bunch of these knob extensions on my lamps. The link is for an arthritis site but they sell them at regular lamp stores, Home Depot, etc. The knob extension pops right over the old switch and totally solves the problem.
posted by HotToddy at 9:12 PM on August 26, 2009


These turn switches are notorious for being short-lived. You can replace the switch, if you have some pliers and snips. They may fail again, however.

A solution that has worked for us is to install a switch at the plug, and use that instead of the switch on the lamp.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 7:54 AM on August 27, 2009


Another thing to watch out for is the (usually) plastic part that unscrews can get stripped or thread itself so far down that it is hitting the lamp body, and thus will not allow you to turn it. I was able to temporarily solve this by adding a small brass nut to the threaded part and then put the plastic turn back on. But eventually I ended up replacing the whole socket with one from Lowes.
posted by Big_B at 8:04 AM on August 27, 2009


Oh, and don't forget to unplug it before messing with the switch. :)
posted by Nameless at 5:34 PM on September 25, 2009


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