Chain Chain Chaaaaaain

Last time I checked, this wasn’t Worldwide Wrestling, and I checked five minutes ago.

– Chazz Busby

After I became embittered over tiles, I started working on the master closet. I had purchased a three-light fixture on clearance for it, but I wasn’t happy with how the light worked in there. I found something less obtrusive and took down the original.


Managed to get primer all over it before removal

Our basement is unfinished and dark, so I thought, hey, how about sticking this bright light down there? The only issue is that most of the lights in the basement are on pull-chains and this is not a pull-chain light. Fortunately, that’s an easy fix.

1. Buy one of these.


Gardner Bender Pull Chain Switch (or Westinghouse or another brand, about $4 and typically available in nickel or brass at your big box store or online)

2. Drill a hole through the ceiling canopy.

Pick a spot away from the wiring and the mounting holes and make sure there’s enough clearance inside the canopy for the switch.


Switch spot selected

Choose a drill bit just a tiny bit larger than the threaded nipple that the chain comes through. The packaging should give that size, or you can just unscrew the metal nut and measure it. Ours was 13/32″ and I used a 7/16″ drill. File off any burrs.

3. Stick the threaded nipple through the hole, then screw on the nut to hold it in place.


Left, the threaded nipple stuck through the canopy; right, with the nut.

4. Wire the hot (black) wire through the switch as shown in the instructions.

Use a small enough wire nut to secure these two small-gauge wires.


The “load” is the fixture side and the “line” is the power.

Wiring it up

Wiring it up

5. Hang the fixture.

With THE CIRCUIT OFF, get a stepladder and install it as normal (make sure you know how to do that), with the hot wire now the wire from the switch. I just used regular nuts to hold up the fixture from a cross-bar attached to the box. If you are installing someplace nicer than our basement, find bolts the right length for using decorative cap nuts. If I ever find the ones that came with this fixture, I might switch out the bolts.

When I did this part, I was wearing a full-length flannel nightgown of the Laura-Ingalls-was-not-sexy variety. It’s super-comfy for winter evenings.

Same idea, but not as sexy as this one from L.L. Bean

Same idea, but not as sexy as this one from L.L. Bean.

As I finished the job, unbeknownst to me, the front of my voluminous and highly tear-resistant gown draped over the top of the stepladder. When I reached the floor, I found myself alarmingly entangled with the thing.

Bewildered, I sought clarification. “BWAKK?!” I inquired of no one in particular. I tried to back away from the stepladder, which toppled painfully against my shins but insisted on staying under my skirt while I staggered about.


Thrown off balance but maintaining a continuous yowl, I stepped onto a pile of lumber, which slid out from under me. I just managed to kick the stepladder away to cope with this new challenge.

My brain said, “It appears this nightgown is inappropriate attire for ladder work.”


I never did fall completely over, but I am a bit hoarse. The nightgown was unharmed.

Here it is...? Super glamorous basement light!

Super glamorous basement light (it’s level, just doesn’t look it.)

You’re probably not installing a pull-chain light anywhere glamorous. I didn’t! But it makes a huge difference to the visibility of our paint shelves.

I can see! That I need to organize these shelves!

Perhaps the darkness was preferable.

Anyway, that’s how to add a pull chain to a hard-wired ceiling light fixture, and what not to wear while doing it.

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