How to Replace the Pull Chain on a Ceiling Fan?

This article explains in step by step the procedure for replacing the broken pull chain on a ceiling fan.

Ceiling fans have been around since the late 1800s, but the design hasn’t changed much in all that time. Most ceiling fans have pull chains, which you use to turn your fan on and off. If your ceiling fan pull chain breaks, you may be able to fix it with some simple tools. 

Even though pull chains are made of metal, they may break easily when used every day. If your chain is being pulled up and down multiple times per day and shows obvious signs of wear or breaks off, it’s time for an upgrade.

If you’re wondering how to replace a pull chain on a ceiling fan, you are at the right place. It’s one of the simplest home repairs you can perform! This handy guide will walk you through everything you need to know about replacing your ceiling fan’s pull chain and keeping it in excellent working condition. Keep reading to learn more!

Determining where the pull chain broke

Part of the pull chain is inside the housing of the fan and the rest is hanging outside. To replace or repair a broken pull chain you first have to identify where the breakage is;

External breakage

It’s easier to repair a pull chain that broke outside the fan housing. If it is broken outside you only have to attach an extension to the broken pull chain so it’s long enough to grab and pull.

Internal breakage

In this case, the pull chain broke inside the fan housing. So, you cannot see any part of the pull chain outside the housing. To repair the internally broken chain, you have to first disassemble the fan housing. So, fixing the internal breakage is a bit lengthy repair procedure that involves replacing the entire pull chain through the on/off switch.

Turn off electricity

Before starting your repair work, take safety precautions. Turn off the fan switch on the wall panel. Also, always turn off your power at your breaker box when working on the wiring. After opening the fan housing, use a voltage tester to ensure that the power is turned off. 

If you have any doubts about your ability to work with electricity and small tools, consult an electrician or handyman before attempting any of these steps.

Remove the fan housing

If you cannot see any pull chain fragment outside the fan housing, it means you will have to remove the housing to see the extent of the damage. It may be a broken pull chain, or the switch itself may be damaged and needs replacing with a new one.

Find a ladder so you can reach the top of the fan comfortably. You will need a screwdriver, wire strippers, and wire nuts for this repair work. First, you will have to remove any light globe or fixtures on the fan, so you can open the housing and reach the switch easily. When you open the housing, closely observe if it’s the chain or the switch that needs replacing. Depending on the fan model, you will need to remove a fixture nut on the switch.

Let’s jump to the next step to replace the pull chain if it has broken inside the switch. If you find the switch broken, skip the chain replacement part and follow the steps for replacing the pull chain switch.

Replacing the pull chain

Follow these steps to replace a pull chain on the ceiling fan:

  • Open the switch using a flat head screwdriver
  • Remove the wiring from the switch to dismantle it. Be careful not to lose the spring inside the switch.
  • Pull away the broken fragment of the pull chain attached to a disc inside the switch.
  • Attach a new pull chain in place of the old one.
  • Test chain by pulling the chain down gently before replacing the ceiling fan cover.
  • Reassemble the switch making sure that the spring goes into its proper place.
  • Reattach all the wiring with the switch and put the fixture nut back on.
  • Align the screw holes of the housing and tighten the screws.
  • When you are done, turn on the power breaker. 
  • Then, turn on the fan switch and pull the chain to see if the fan is working
  • Lastly, put back all the fixtures on the housing if you are satisfied with your handy work.

Replacing the pull chain switch

For some people replacing the broken switch with a new one can be more challenging than replacing a broken pull chain. However, you can pull off this repair work if you follow this guide.

  • After opening the fan housing, locate the switch and remove it from the wiring.
  • Make sure to take a picture of the wiring from your cellphone so you can use it as a reference when putting back the wiring.
  • Make a quick trip to the hardware store to get a compatible switch to replace the broken one.
  • Remove some insulation from the wire ends of the new switch and attach it with the fan wiring by twisting them together. Consult the picture taken for correct attachment.
  • Cover the exposed wires with a wire nut for safety and fit the new switch in the fan housing where the old switch was present.
  • Put the fixture nut back to keep the switch in place securely.
  • Reassemble by following the finishing steps as described in the last section.

A ceiling fan with a broken pull chain isn’t of any use. But with just a few simple tools and less than an hour, you can replace your broken pull chain without any problem. Follow this step-by-step guide to ensure that you have your ceiling fan in impeccable condition.

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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