How To Fix A Pull Chain On A Ceiling Fan Light

So, the pull chain for your ceiling fan just broke and needs a replacement and you don’t know how to go about that. Well, you are right where you should be. This article shows you a step by step procedure to follow if you want to fix the pull chain switch.

How To Fix A Pull Chain On A Ceiling Fan Light
Image by blackbirdvisual1 from Pixabay

The Pull Chain Switch

This is an alternative option for using a wall switch or remote. It functions with a chain or string. One pull of the string signals on, while a second pull will toggle the appliance off.

The pull chain is most popularly used in ceiling fan lights. It can be two-position or multi-position.

The two-position switches can only perform on and off functions. The multi-position pull switches allow you to adjust to different fan speeds and light intensities.

For the two position switches, there are two types. The first type turns on/off as you pull the switch. The other will turn on/off only after releasing the chain.

The first type is no longer popularly used as the system became inefficient and started causing overheating.

However, in both types, they are designed with a switch in the outer position, while the string is in the upper position.

When The Pull Chain Stops Working

There are a few checks you can do when this happens, to determine the possible cause.

Ceiling fans that are equipped with pull chains are usually connected to an electrical panel directly. Let this be your first checkpoint.

Now, if you hear a humming sound when you pull the chain, then the capacitor of the fan is probably faulty. This might require more professional assistance to get it fixed.

If you don’t hear any sound, please try to check the power supply to the fan and other wirings. Sometimes, there might be loose, cut, or damaged wires.

So, first check the wiring and be sure that all is well before you start opening up the fan. When you are done with all these and you are sure that every other thing is fine, you can now move on to other steps.

At this point there can only be either of two things wrong (sometimes both) with your ceiling fan. The first being that the chain might have cut or gotten broken. Or that the pull switch on the inside of the fan is faulty.

These you can fix yourself. Whichever is the case, whether chain or switch or both, the steps to fixing them are almost the same.

Tools You’ll Be Needing

Fixing your pull chain is not a very complex task, and it also doesn’t require complex tools either. 

1. A Step Ladder

All tools are important to accomplish this task, however, this one is essential to be able to even start.

Considering that ceiling fans are pretty heavy and also at the ceiling, you will need some aid to reach it.

Depending on how high the ceiling of your room is, you can also make use of furniture. A steady stool, table, or chair could also be alternatives if you don’t have a step ladder.

It is, however, important that you ensure that whatever you use is high enough such that the fan is at eye-level when you stand. Stack furniture if you have to, just make sure it is as stable as possible before moving on.

If you aren’t high enough and try to stretch, you could fall or damage a part of the ceiling fan in the process. So, please try to get as high (and stable) as you can.

You could check out this really and and stable step ladder here if you don’t have one already — it is 22 feet high!

Little Giant 22-Foot Velocity Multi-Use Ladder, 300-Pound Duty Rating, 15422-001

Click here to check this out and buy on Amazon.

2. A Screwdriver

Working on any electrical appliance, will require you using a screwdriver.

To be able to disassemble a lot of large and small parts of the ceiling fan kit, you will need a screwdriver. 

People tend to try and replace the use of a screwdriver with a knife or pair of scissors. This is unsafe.

3. Wire Snips

You will also be needing wire snips when reconnecting the switch to the fan. You would need to strip the wire for it to enter the switch.

These are the three basic tools you’ll be using to complete this process. At some point, you may be needing other minor tools, though.

4. Voltage Tester

You will need a voltage tester to check that the wires are dead before you begin to do the connections.

Yes, the pull switch would have been turned off and even power cut off at the circuit breaker. However, it is still important that you test the wires just to be double sure.

5. Wire Nuts

You may also be needing wire nuts to hold wires together. Of course, you can use old wire nuts if they are still in good shape. But if they are not, just get new ones.

EFIXTK 158PCS Electrical Wire Connectors Screw Terminals,with Spring Insert Twist Nuts Caps Connection Assortment Set

Click here to check out these wire nuts and buy on Amazon.

Fixing The Pull Chain/Pull Switch

To fix you pull chain and/or pull switch here are the steps you need to take:

1. Remove The Ceiling Fan Kit

The pull switch is located inside the fan kit, so, you will need to remove the fan and fan light housing to access the switch.

However, it is very important that you turn off the fan light switch and also head to the circuit breaker for your home and cut the power for the fan before removing the kit.

And like we said before, still check for any charges with your voltage tester before you begin.

Before unscrewing the ceiling fan kit, you need to first take out attachments to the kit. So, remove the light bulbs and screws holding the fan light kit.

Whatever you remove will depend on the design of the ceiling fan you are working on. Just make sure you remove anything that is not a part of the fan housing itself.

This is the most delicate part of the ceiling fan and light fixture. With those out of the way, you can now move on to unscrewing the panel holding the light board.

Be sure to keep these removed parts safe, they are all important; you don’t want to lose any of them.

After taking those out, you can now remove the fan housing so that you can see the old switch inside the fan.

2. Unscrew The Old Switch

Now that you have removed the fan light fixture, you then need to remove the nuts holding the pull chain switch in place. This allows you to get to the old switch and work on the chain switch directly. 

3. Change The Pull Chain

If the problem is a broken pull chain, at this point you should be seeing where this has happened. All that is needed is that you take the chain to your local hardware store to get a match.

When getting a new one, we advise that you get something that is longer than the last. This reduces the chances of you having to go through this process again in the near future.

Speaking of new pull chains, here is one you could get for under 10 dollars.

Fan-Light Switch & Pull Chain, Electrical Pull Chain Switch,ON-Off, 6 A/125V AC, 6 inch Wire Terminal (Chorme Pull Chain)

Click here to check this out and buy on Amazon.

4. Attach The New Pull Chain

Once you have obtained the new pull chain, the job is just about done. Screw it in the same position where the former one was.

After that, you can now return every other thing you removed from the installation – starting from last to first.

With everything in place, you can then turn the power back on and check if the pull chain is working.

If it does not start working immediately, then you need go back and do a check. You probably left something out while reassembling the parts of the fan.

Another possible cause could be that you missed a fault with the switch itself. So, what now?

You will need to carefully disassemble the fan kit again. This time, carefully check if you mistakenly left out any connection or didn’t fix the pull chain properly.

How To Fix A Pull Chain On A Ceiling Fan Light
Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

When The Switch Is Damaged

If the switch is also faulty, you then have to repeat the same disassembling process again. This time, though, be more thorough. Take a closer look at the pull chain switch to see if you missed something.

Is the pull chain switch is also damaged? Not a problem; except that you might have to go back to the store. Disconnect the switch from the fan and take it to your local store to get a match.

If you are not the one who made the initial installation of the fan, take note of the wires connecting the fan and switch. This is important because if you don’t place the wires exactly where they were, it might not work.

If you have to, take a photo of the arrangement before you cut or disconnect the wires.

With the parts of the ceiling fan already disassembled, head to your local store and purchase a new switch. 

Once the new switch arrives, you then attach it to the fan and insert all the necessary screws.

Before putting everything back in, do a double check on the wiring of the ceiling fan and fan light.

Sometimes, the wiring might get loose in the process, thereby, causing the ceiling fan to not respond after pulling the chain.


With all the steps we have given in this article, you can fix your ceiling fan or ceiling fan light pull chain at any time.

But before we let you go, just a few final tips.

First off, designs of ceiling fans may vary across brands. Some ceiling fans have their pull chain switches inside the fan. For others, they might just be attached somewhere else on the body of the fan.

Also, it is possible that the problem with your fan isn’t with the pull chain switch. In cases like this, avoid trying to fix it yourself. Seek the attention of a professional. Doing it yourself, you may end up causing even more damage to the ceiling fan.

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