How to Fix & Replace a Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Switch?

Important Safety Notes

Your ceiling fan lights use a live electrical circuit, and you can easily injure yourself. Whenever you’re working on the electrical side of household repairs, you need to kill the power to the circuit and inform everyone what’s going on so they don’t turn it back on while you’re working on things.

You also need to be especially careful when working on the bulbs themselves so they don’t shatter and injure you. Also, if you don’t have experience with electrical work, you should stick with just replacing the chain and avoid trying to wire up the entire switch.

If you don’t have any electrical expertise, you can complete this job, but don’t go any more in-depth.

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Draw a diagram or, even better, snap a few pictures with your cell phone. Pay particular attention to how the wires are attached to the switch, and in what order.

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Consider a Wall Switch or a Remote Control

Once you have switched off your fan, depending on how fiddly or inconvenient the fix was, you may be very motivated to make a plan for any possible reoccurrences.

Three excellent solutions to future ceiling fan chain mishaps are:

  1. Convert the system to remote control – Any ceiling fan can be converted to work with a remote control. Universal conversion kits (amazon link) include the remote and a receiver that is attached inside the fan canopy.
  2. Install a wall switch – You can see from the article above how this is the best way to handle broken fan chains. They are also great when your remote batteries die or you lose the remote altogether.
  3. Convert to a smart control system – If you have a high-tech household where everything is run from your phone, you can add your ceiling fan. This method uses Wifi and another device as the remote control. Installation usually includes connecting a receiver to the wiring inside the fan’s canopy.

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FAQs About Fixing Ceiling Fan Chain

Can you fix a broken pull chain on a ceiling fan?

If you have a broken chain in the ceiling fan, the best thing to do is replace it. Fixing a completely broken pull chain is possible, but getting the ceiling fan operating smoothly again may take some work. You also risk your safety if you fix it instead of replacing it with a new switch.

Why is my ceiling fan light fixture not working properly?

There are a few possibilities. The first thing to check is your fan’s bulb or light kit. You may have burned out the light if one of them is no longer working. If this isn’t the problem, you can try tightening screws on your fixture to ensure that everything is secure.

If the new fan switch doesn’t work, you may need to replace the light fixture. If neither of these solutions works, then it is possible that your fan has a faulty pull-chain or switch. You may have to replace your pull-chain or switch on the wall to fix this problem.

Can you use a ceiling fan light for kitchen lighting?

Ceiling fan lights work well for small kitchens because they produce a soft glow that is aesthetically pleasing and flattering to the eyes. They can be installed either flush or semi-flush with the ceiling, which means that you do not have to worry about them getting in the way of your cooking area (unlike chandeliers). Ceiling fans are also a great choice for kitchen lighting for anyone living in warm, humid locations as they provide a cooling breeze.

Replacing a Pull Chain Switch

Fixing a switch is a little more complicated than replacing a pull chain if you’re uncomfortable with wiring. If that’s not an issue, you’ll want to cut the power off, get a set of wire strippers and get ready for a trip to the hardware store.

To get started, you need to remove the switch from the wiring. More often than not, you can simply twist the wire caps off and disconnect the switch and remove it from the fan. At this point, we highly recommend taking a good look at the wiring or even a photograph on your mobile for reference when you refit.

If you have a manual for your ceiling fan, you may be able to pull the part number and order what you need online. A trip to the hardware store is quicker, however, and a helpful clerk can help you quickly hone in on the part you need. Once you’ve gotten the correct switch, you need to remove a short section of insulation from the ends of the wires if they aren’t pre-prepped.

With the new switch in hand, reattach the wiring to the old wires by twisting them together with your fingers. Use a wire nut or twist connector to cover the ends and keep them safe from a short, then put the new switch back in the housing. Reattach the fixture nut that holds it in place, and reassemble the fan following the steps we outlined above.

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Note the model number and brand of your ceiling fan as well as how many speeds it has. Take this information, along with the old switch, to a home center so you can match it up with a replacement part.

Use Pliers to Pull Chain Stub

If you can see a small chain section sticking out of the fan canopy, you’re in luck! Switching your fan off is as simple as using your needle-nose or long-nose pliers (amazon link) to firmly grasp the protruding portion and click it the correct number of times to set it in the off-position.

Can you do this if the power to the fan is still running? I leave the final decision up to you, but my reasoning is that we touch the chain all the time while the fan is running; that’s what it’s there for.

However, I will add two points of caution if the chain is very short. Do not touch the pliers on the motor housing. If there is something amiss with the grounding, then you can get hurt. Be careful of the rotating blades while your head and hands are up there.

If there is only a tiny bit sticking out of the fan casing, also be very careful not to yank the end and then let it go so the tiny piece recoil into the dome before you’ve clicked it enough times.

Different Methods Of Fixing A Broken Chain On A Ceiling Fan

Step 1: Turn Off The Main Switch

The first thing to do before going ahead to uninstall the fixture housing is to turn the power off at the main switch. Find the circuit breaker, it would most likely be in your basement or closet or outside the house. When you locate it, open it and turn off the power connected to the room the ceiling fan is to cut off electricity when you’re fixing the fan. This is to ensure your safety. 

In case you’re not certain of which of the switches is connected to the room, don’t hesitate to turn the main power off, the fixing does not take too much time.

Step 2: Detach The Lightbulbs Attached To The Ceiling Fan

This is to prevent the bulbs from breaking. Use a lifting aid, preferably, a ladder to get this done. Carefully detach the light bulbs and put them on a towel or a fabric. If your fan has globes, then remove them, using a screwdriver to unscrew.

Step 3: Unscrew The Screws Holding The Lightbulbs In Place 

The main housing of the ceiling where the wiring is stored is usually fused together with visible screws. Take out the screws with a screwdriver and loosen the fixture to access the switch and the wiring. Keep the screws and all other detachable fixtures in a safe place so you won’t lose any important piece when you’re about to re-attach them. 

Step 4: Remove The Nut On The Fixture’s Side That Holds The Switch In Place 

Check the exterior of the fixture where you’ll find a small nut. Go ahead to unscrew the nut and completely remove it. It would give you access to the ceiling fan chain switch. Keep the small nut so you don’t lose it. 

Step 5: Remove The Switch To Examine The Chain Properly

Once you remove the switch from the fixture, examine it properly. If the switch’s wiring is broken, don’t delay the replacement. Use a screwdriver to open the switch and examine if the chain needs to be replaced with a longer piece or if you would need to get an entirely new switch. If the chain looks like it can be replaced, just use a longer chain to fix it rather than buy a new one. If it looks broken, get a replacement. 

Step 1: Use A Screwdriver To Open The Switch

When it is separated into two pieces, you’ll see the spring and the chain very well. Remove the chain from the wiring, just pull the wires out of the switch. While opening the switch, take care not to misplace any of the screws or pieces. If you still can’t see the chain and spring, then remove the protective plate covering them inside the switch. 

Step 2: Remove The Broken Chain 

Next thing you want to do is to remove the broken chain as well as all the contents in the switch. The contents in the switch won’t be tight so you won’t find it difficult to take them out. Remove the broken chain from the disc using a screwdriver. Dispose of the broken chain once you have removed it. 

Step 3: Install A Longer Chain

Install a piece longer than the broken chain in the broken chain’s spot. The same way the broken chain was removed, put a longer chain that can easily pass through the fixture and get to the old chain’s spot. Fasten the long chain into the disc where you removed the broken chain was, use your fingers to do this. 

Step 4: Fix Switch Back In Its Position

Put the switch back in place by assembling the spring and chain. Return the chain and spring connected to the disc, into the switch. From the switch hole, pull the chain, to help you pull it out easily. If you removed the protective plate holding the fixtures in place, put it back in place. 

Use a screwdriver or your finger to hold down the chain and spring in place so it does not detach when you’re attaching the two major pieces of the switch together. After this, the two switch parts will lean back into each other without efforts. 

Step 5: Replace Switch Into Fixture

Replace the switch into the fixture and re-screw the switch nuts. Just the way you took out the switch, place the switch back in with the wires. Ensure to put the switch by where the small nut was loosened on the outside of the fixture. Fasten the nut back to hold the switch in place.

3. How To Install A New Switch

If the chain has broken beyond replacement, then, the next thing to do is to fix a new switch. Here are the steps to follow to help you get that done:

Step 1: Get A New Switch 

You can get a new switch from any store where home improvement gadgets are sold. Snap a picture of the old switch to know which new one to purchase or preferably, disassemble the bad switch and take it with you to the store. 

At the store, check for fan switch or fan light switch or anything related to a switch for a ceiling fan. If you’re not sure, make an enquiry from any of the staff at the store to help you determine the right switch to buy. 

Step 2: Disconnect Old Switch

After you have purchased the new switch, disconnect the wires from the old switch. You can pull or untwist the connectors holding the wires together to easily detach them from the old switch. 

Remove each wire by pulling off the connectors to take out the old switch. Take note of which of the wires are connected to the switch before you disassemble it in order to know the right wires when it’s time to put them back together. It is better to take a picture for better referencing. 

Step 3: Strip The Insulation Off The Wire Ends

Use a wire stripper to cut the insulation away from the ends of the wires attached to the newly purchased switch. Cut into the insulation before you pull it towards the end of the wire, and, then, remove it. This way, the electrical connections can go through the wires.

Step 4: Join The Wires Together And Protect With Connectors

Find the previously installed wires that you will attach the new wires to and join them together tightly in a clockwise motion. Most of the wires can be sorted by color so it will be easy to piece the correct wires together. Make sure you cover the naked wire with a twist-on connector. 

If you don’t know how the wires are meant to be connected, then go back to the picture (if you took one) for referencing. You can get it in any home improvement appliance store. It is also called wire nuts.  

Step 5: Install Newly Purchased Switch 

Finally, you get to install your new switch inside the ceiling fan’s housing to re-screw the nut outside. Hold the switch in place to the fixtures and fasten the nut that is outside the fixture to hold the switch tightly back in place. 

Step 1: Put The Fixture Back In Place

Do this by holding the fixture on top of the wiring and putting it back in place. When you’ve done this, re-fix the part of the removed fixture back in place over the wiring. Tightly, hold it down and use a screwdriver to fix the screws back in. You might need some help to hold the fixture in place while you fix the screws back in. 

Step 2: Reattach Lightbulbs If Any

Re-attach the lightbulbs into the fixtures if your ceiling fan has lightbulb attachment. In case you removed any other fixture or bulbs before fixing the broken chain, re-attach them by twisting them back on or use a screwdriver to reinstall the screws. Carefully twist each bulb back into place.

For instructions on how to install a ceiling fan with light, click here to read How To Install A Ceiling Fan With Light.

Step 3: Restore Power From The Main Switch

turn on the main power back on. Go back to the circuit breaker where the main power switch is, and turn on the switch which connects to the room power. If the circuit breaker is not labeled, ensure you turn on the right power. Do this by testing the light switch in the ceiling fan room. 

Step 4: Test The Chain To See That It Works

check out the pull chain to be sure it’s working. Do this by flipping the power switch of that to turn on the fan. Once the pull chain is now fully installed, pull on it carefully to be sure it’s working perfectly. If the lights come on or the fan starts rotating, then it means your fan is good to keep working. When you’re testing, avoid pulling the chain with too much force, this is what causes it to break.

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