How to fix a touch lamp that won’t turn off

Touch lamps are a great addition to any room in the home; although they may seem like some device from the future, the way they work is pretty simple; a small touch control box or unit is installed inside the lamp itself, it is connected in such a way that you can turn the lamp on or off by simply touching any metal part of the device. Neat, eh!

However, sometimes this box can fail and stop working properly. This usually happens when the lamp has been dropped or banged against something hard, like a wall or another object.

How to fix a touch lamp that won’t turn off, Zazzy Home

The most common problem with a touch lamp is broken wire connections inside where they are connected into light sockets or when touching metal parts that are conducting electricity causing zapping in small areas resulting in burned out insulation coating over time causing bare metal making it vulnerable for further zapping. In addition, sometimes touching metal parts results in a power surge that can damage the touch control box or cause another lamp wiring to break down, sometimes resulting in a fire hazard. In this case, it is recommended to cut off all power from your touch lamp and replace the wiring.

What follows explains how to take apart your touch lamp in order to gain access to the control box within, fix it if it is broken, and put the lamp back together again. It is very easy to do, but be sure that you are careful not to break any of the little wires inside when putting everything back together. However, if you follow these steps carefully, then you should be able to solve your problem in less than ten minutes.

The first job is to work out where the control box is located. The best place to start your search is at the base of the lamp. Once you have found this, you’ll have to remove and replace the unit.

Before even thinking of messing around with your lamp, make sure that you have not only turned it off at the wall but also have completely unplugged things. As nice as a working touch lamp will be, it is probably not worth electrocuting yourself over!

Now, the lamp is safe to work with; it is time to remove the base. If you can see screws on the bottom, then find the right shaped screwdriver and remove said screws, ideally without losing them in the process. If there are no screws on the bottom, then don’t panic; this just means that the base either twists on snaps on, so give it a firm twist or tug, and the bottom should pop off.

Once opened, find the control box; if you are having a hard time identifying it, they are usually connected via four wires – yellow, red, white, and black (although depending on country and model, colors may vary).

How to fix a touch lamp that won’t turn off, Zazzy Home

A thin film of plastic covers the wires inside the cord that attach to the touch control box. If you gently peel this away from the wire, you should see four thin metal blades that are attached to each wire. Most likely, one or more of these are bent upwards at an angle.

Straighten these back down, so they are all touching the metal side of the touch control box. This is similar to how a paperclip bends when someone bends it by holding both ends in their fingers and letting it fall down onto a flat surface — whatever got pushed up gets forced downwards until it’s flat against whatever objects have been supporting its current position.

Following manufacture instructions or warnings, rapidly close/shut/turn off your lamp 5-10 times in quick succession, and then turn it on once. This should reset the touch control box so the lamp will respond to your touch again.

If this does not work, or if you do not have a touch control box inside your base: Locate the metal prongs/prong-like objects in your bulb socket (the spot where you screw in a lightbulb). These can be found in most light fixtures that use light bulbs other than traditional incandescent, such as fluorescent or LED fixtures. Gently wiggle these back and forth while firmly pressing down on them — this should fix them into place again. If there are hairline cracks between the metal parts of these prongs/prong-like objects and any ceramic or plastic pieces that they touch on the light fixture, replace that part. If this does not fix your issue, you may need a new light bulb. Purchase a replacement lightbulb and follow manufacture instructions/warnings for replacing it.

How to fix a touch lamp that won’t turn off, Zazzy Home

There you have it. Your touch lamp should now be working as if nothing was wrong with the original wiring. If this does not work, you will need to completely rewire your lamp, including replacing any broken wires and disconnecting and reconnecting both of the wires feeding through the nipple on the bottom of the lamp. You can also use a combination of new and old wires or replace them altogether to avoid having to reattach wires through the nipple on the bottom of your touch lamp.

In order to determine which wire you will need to connect, you should isolate where the problem is occurring inside of your light fixture by turning off all electricity going into it before you start working on any wires under the base. Once you have established there is no power going into your light fixture, use a combination of multimeter and test leads with electrical plug-in adapters to temporarily restore electricity going into your light fixture while testing each individual wire one at a time until you find which wire is causing the problem or if there is a combination of wires that are causing the problem.

Once you have discovered which wire(s) is broken, plan an efficient method for replacing and/or reattaching it. Before restoring electricity to your light fixture, this must be done as it could lead to shock or fire hazards.

The easiest way to fix a broken wire is by splicing back together with the two ends of the wire. However, if your lamp uses colored wires for power and you do not have a matching color replacement, you will need to attach a new piece of exposed wire which you should strip about a 1/2″ from the end to wrap around each individual strand of the broken wire, twist each pair of two strands together to tie a knot inside whatever insulation is holding them together, and then cover both individual wires with electrical tape.

Suppose you have cut off the nub in order to attach a plug-in adapter for your test leads, use one of the remaining edges of the cut nipple to thread your wire through and push it back towards the base. If you do not have a replacement plug-in adapter, you can use a pebble or bead to wedge against the bottom of your wire and push it back up into place until its top reaches the surface of the nipple, where it will be held in place by tension.

Once this is all done, put the base back on and plug the lamp back in and enjoy your restored lamp.

A recap

To recap what we have done to fix our lamp

1) Turn off all electricity going into your touch lamp (this should be done every time you work on any electrical device, including fixing broken wires).

2) Remove screws from the underside of the plate that holds the bulb and then remove the plate and set it aside.

3) Locate and remove screws securing the touch sensor to the lamp base. Unscrew any other attachment such as light cover or globe to access wires.

4) Remove all connections from the bulb, power cord, and/or wires feeding through the nipple on the bottom of the lamp.

How to fix a touch lamp that won’t turn off, Zazzy Home

5) Follow the steps in the article above, provided they do not already match the situation you are working with (typically, this involves cutting broken wire and connecting new wire).

6) Reattach everything back in reverse order: place plate back over bulb; screw touch control box to the underside of the plate; connect new wiring where old wiring was cut off; secure all retainers back in place; restore electricity feeding into your fixture (simply turn it on again); test out your new fix and enjoy your working touch lamp again.


Meet Jeff. For the last 10 years, he's been repairing and fixing problem homes - from leaky roofs to faulty wiring. He started blogging about his experiences as a way to help others who might be struggling with home repairs, and he's become something of an expert in the field. Jeff is always up for a challenge, and he loves sharing his tips and advice with others. When it comes to home repairs, Jeff knows what he's talking about. So if you're looking for some help and guidance, be sure to check out his latest guide!

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