Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Repair and Replace a Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Switch


How can I fix the pull chain on my ceiling fan that broke off inside the switch? -Brad

Hi Brad,

With most pull chain fan switches, you’ll need to replace the switch, though on some models you may be able to reattach the chain. To replace the switch, you will need to know whether it operates the fan or light. If the switch goes to the fan, you will need to know how many speeds the fan has. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Start by turning off the circuit breaker to the fan.
  2. Next, remove the cover on the fan housing or the globe light so you can access the switch, and unscrew the nut on the outside of the switch that holds it on.
  3. Pull the switch out of the housing from the inside, leaving the wires attached.
  4. Examine the switch to see if the chain can be reattached.
  5. If not, carefully note the colors of the wires and the terminal each attaches to (take a picture with a digital camera or cell phone or draw a diagram of the switch).
  6. Detach the wires and take the switch—along with the model and make of the fan—with you to the home center for a replacement. Be sure to match the number of speeds, switch size, and wattage.
  7. To install the new switch if the wires attach directly to the terminals, bend each wire around the corresponding terminal in a clockwise direction, and tighten up the screws.
  8. If the switch has wires that attach using twist-on connectors (commonly called wire nuts), strip 1/2” to 3/4” of insulation from each wire, wrap them together in a clockwise direction, and twist the connector on in a clockwise direction so it is secure and the bare wire is covered.
  9. Insert the switch in the hole in the fan housing from the inside and thread the nut on the outside.
  10. Attach the housing cover or the globe light.
  11. Turn the breaker back on, and test the switch to see if it works.

Good luck with your project,


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6 Comments on “How to Repair and Replace a Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Switch”

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  1. Joan Says:
    June 22nd, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Hello; I have a question about replacing a pull chain switch on my ceiling fan to repair the light. The current switch has one red wire & one black wire. I have purchased a new switch,
    but it has 2 black wires, no red. Can I use it anyway ?
    Thank you

  2. shirley Says:
    June 25th, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    my fan switch did not work when I open the light cover to remove the fan switch the switch fall apart and I have 4 wires 2 black, 1 purple, 1 red, but my switch has 1 black, 1 brown, 1 purple and 1 gray what go to what ?

  3. johnnicosia Says:
    August 6th, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    The overhead fan in my kitchen will not turn on but the attached light will go on. How can I fix the fan?

  4. Andy Says:
    November 3rd, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    The light on a new fan with pull chain switches would not turn off so I changed the light switch and now it is almost flashing on and off. It will dim to nothing then come back full on. How do you troubleshoot this? Should I just replace the switch again?

  5. you know Says:
    January 14th, 2015 at 3:02 am

    my chain can be reattached but my problem is when took the pull chain cover off, everything came out flying. so i would like to know how the inside was originally was. plz can someone help? i do not need to buy a new one.

  6. Linda Says:
    February 28th, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    My ceiling fan has 3 speeds but is only working on high. Is there a way to repair it, or do I replace the whole fan?. Looks like the fan is about 13 years old.
    Thanks for your help

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