How to Replace the Chain That Turns a Ceiling Fan On and Off

A broken pull chain on a ceiling fan almost always requires replacement of the on/off switch as a repair. A few models do allow you to reattach the chain, but you must access the switch before determining whether your fan is one of them. Most likely, you will have to remove the switch before heading to a store or searching online for a replacement part.

Turn off power to the ceiling fan by tripping the breaker at the home’s main electrical panel.

Climb a ladder to access the fan and open the cover plate at the bottom of the fan, where the pull chain enters. The plate is typically held on to the rest of the housing with three screws on the side of the box.

Unscrew the nut that holds the pull chain and switch in place. You may need a wrench to loosen the nut.

Free the switch from inside the housing, but don’t detach any wires yet. Check whether the chain can be reattached. If so, snap it back in place, put the nut back on and reassemble the access cover plate.

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.

Detach the wires from the switch. They may be connected to feed wires with wire nuts. If so, twist the wire nuts counterclockwise to free up the wires. Some models are wired directly into the switch. If this is the case, avoid cutting the wires from the switch assembly. Insert a small screwdriver into the slot adjacent to each wire to pop them loose.

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.

Determine how the wires attach to the new switch. Insert wires into slots on the switch in the exact order that they lined up on the old switch. If the new switch has terminals, twist each wire clockwise around the appropriate terminal and tighten down the terminal screw. If the wires attach to feed wires with wire nuts, strip off about 1/2 inch of insulation from the switch wires and twist the appropriate switch wires together with the feed wires, then twist on a wire nut.

Slip the switch into the fan housing and reattach it with the nut from Step 3.

Reattach the housing cover, then turn the breaker back on.

Things You Will Need






Cell phone

Wire stripper

Wire nuts

Post time: May-19-2021