Fixing A Broken Pendant Light

The other day I flipped on the lights in our kitchen and noticed one of the two pendants over the table was out.

No biggie, right? The previous owners had thoughtfully left us a spare bulb (since they take tiny special ones) so I popped it in there and voi… nothing. Darn. Apparently my fix wouldn’t be that easy.

I’m no electrician, but I figured-slash-hoped I could diagnose and solve the problem without having to call in help and/or buy a new light. Not that we have any special attachment to these fixtures in particular. In fact, we’ll probably replace them for one larger light fixture over the island that we plan to add when we start overhauling the kitchen. But since we aren’t quite ready to go down that road (which always seems to snowball into chaos if you’re not ready for it), I had my sights set on saving this fella first. So off went the power to the whole house (call me Captain Better Safe Than Sorry) and down came the light.

I tried tightening the wire caps in the ceiling. Maybe something had come loose? No luck.

I tried swapping bulbs with the working light. Maybe my spare bulb was a dud? Nope. Not it.

I tried removing it and reattaching it entirely, just because I was running out of ideas. Still nothing.

At this point Sherry was batting her eyelashes and sweetly requesting that I “leave it alone for now” (read: give up) because she could tell that I was losing patience with all of my light-related failures. And also because I accidentally dropped a screwdriver on my face (and might have cursed pretty loudly) during my latest attempt. Go me.

Speaking of short fuses, I even tried cutting the now-frayed wire ends off of the fixture and exposing some new fresh wire to see if that would help. All I ended up with was shorter wires. But still no illumination. Sigh.

Thanks for sticking with me through this riveting play by play by the way. At this point I’m ready to take Sherry’s advice and admit defeat.

My last task is just to put the darn thing back together so no wires are left exposed while we go light shopping. That’s when I noticed something on the bottom of the light. The white wire going into the light socket had somehow become unattached. I hadn’t noticed it before, so my guess is that maybe it was loose to start with, and all of my recent manhandling had knocked it completely out. So after a bit more manhandling (and basically disassembling the socket completely) I was able to get the white wire secured back into place:

And that, my friends, is how I showed this light who’s boss.

Don’t mind the wonky shade, I straightened that out after snapping this photo (well, after Sherry pointed out that it looked crooked).

Now I realize the specifics of this electrical solution smackdown hardly apply to everyone who ever has a light out, but it does go to show you that sometimes a little persistence (and a screwdriver dropped on your face) can solve a problem if you stick with it. Kinda like when we managed to fix the pocket door in the last house by flailing around aimlessly and trying a few different things. Maybe we’ll put the money that we saved on buying an interim replacement fixture towards a slightly more expensive permanent fixture someday when we actually dive headfirst into the whole kitchen redo. Call it a celebratory splurge. In case you’re wondering, Sherry has her eye on this one in white. Although knowing us we’ll be too cheap to pull the trigger and it’ll sell out, forcing us to DIY something or hit up a local lighting outlet in search of something else that lights our fire. And that my friends, is my second post of the day that ends with a cringeworthy pun. You’re welcome.


    • Stephanie Phillips says

      In this is the dorktastic comment I leave when scrambling to be first. I posted first!

      Seriously, I check you twice a day (and you’re already on my google reader). It’s the hi-light of my afternoon when I get to snort-laugh along with the Petersiks.

    • says

      Ditto to liking the puns. My husband is also quite fond of them! When I informed him I couldn’t check out the book from the library that he wanted he told me “That was fine,” and then proceeded to explain his fine/overdue library joke pun in much more detail than necessary ;-)

      Much love,
      Future Mama

  1. says

    What would you estimate your success rate is on this kind of project (the “I don’t really know how to fix this but I’ll give it a shot” kind)? In our house a “quick fix” usually involves a whole new problem ;)

    • says

      Yeah we don’t mind them, we just figure that something larger and more centered over the island we’ll build would look nice and balanced. But we have one of these guys in our bedroom above the sink nook and it’s nice and clean and simple (so our other crazy ikea pendant can be the star, haha).


  2. Sarah says

    Wow John, you are all over the post writing these days!

    I know you enjoy a good modern family quote so:

    Luke: She’s like the best doctor every. A couple of puzzles. No shots. I didn’t even have to take my pants off. I found that one out a little late.
    Phil: I’ve been there buddy.

  3. Amy L. says

    Hilarious! My super gentle even-keeled husband becomes a sailor during house projects. He taunts and teases screws that won’t go in right, tiles that won’t come off a wall, and drywall screws that miss the framing behind it. It is both hysterical and not appropriate for children to be around. :)

    • says

      Haha, does he do that behind the wheel too? John suddenly becomes very tough when someone cuts him off and that person can’t hear him smack talk through the glass. But if the window’s open. Not even a mutter. It’s hilarious.


  4. Kit says

    I am MOST excited to see what you do with the kitchen…I can’t wait. It’s like a cliffhanger. :)

  5. says

    Go John! We recently DIY’ed our entire electic plan on our kitchen reno and it is a small miracle that we managed to stay married. Electric work can be infuriating! ;)

    • Ashley says

      I’m working on one of those right now… and not to be a debbie downer but it is def a labor intensive project! So far I’ve spent 4 or 5 hours on it and it’s barely halfway done. Let’s cross our fingers and hope it looks swank-i-fied in the end!

    • says

      I have been looking for a goof DIY tutorial for a capiz light FOEVER!! The only ones I can find involve milk jugs… and I just don’t know if I can ever have the same love for a bunch of plastic milk jug cut outs as I do for real capiz shell lights.

      If anyone has a good tutorial I would like the link!

    • says

      There are a few others people have linked to further back. And if you search capiz on Pinterest I think a bunch come up (there’s a wax paper one from DesignSponge). Hope it helps!


  6. says

    working with electricity scares the bejesus outta me. good call on shutting off power to the whole house!

    loud curses are part of our toolkits, really. but i suppose we don’t have little ears in the house that will eventually repeat all of mom & dad’s vocabulary.

    you ok? no stitches needed? still have both your eyeballs?

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