How to Replace a Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Switch

Ceiling fans help save you money on energy bills so anything that stops working on it can be an inconvenience. Ceiling fans operate by a pull chain switch which turns on the motor. Sometimes, someone may jerk the chain too hard and it breaks out of the socket. Some models can be reattached, but others need replacing. Here are some tips on how to fix a ceiling fan pull switch.

Turn Off Power

Before making electrical repairs, turn off the power to the fan to avoid electrocution. If you know what breaker controls the fan, turn it off and other appliances on the same breaker. Otherwise, turn off the main house breaker. Use a voltage tester to make certain no current is running to the unit.

Remove or Reattach the Chain

Climb a ladder to access the cover plate the chain runs through. Use a wrench to loosen the three screws on the side of the box and the nut that holds the cover plate. Some models may have two screws under the cap on the switch housing.  

Remove the pull chain switch, but don't touch any wires yet until you try to reattach the chain. If you are able to reattach the pull switch, put everything back in place. If the chain can't be reattached, take it to your local hardware store for the right replacement.

Detach Wires

Draw a diagram or take pictures of the wires to help you recall the colors and how they are attached.  If the wires are attached with a wire nut, turn the nut left to loosen. Don't clip wires if they are fastened to the pull chain switch. Remove them by inserting a flathead screwdriver in the slot next to the wire.

Insert the New Chain

Using the diagram you drew or photo you took, attach the new switch into the corresponding slots. If there are wire leads on the new switch, wrap them to the right around the correct slot and secure the terminal screw. Trim ½ inch of insulation with wire clippers on models that have wires connected to feed wires with a nut.

Match the correct feed wires with switch wires and twist them together followed by the wire nut. Reattach the switch to the housing and turn the power back on to test.

These steps should help you repair your ceiling fan pull chain switch. If the fan doesn't work, you may need a residential electrician to fix the problem.