Asked on Aug 25, 2014

Touch lamp won't touch on

Dawn R Fischer
by Dawn R Fischer

I have a touch lamp that stopped turning on when touched. One bulb did burn out, and I've replaced the bulb, but that didn't fix the problem. I've tried replacing all of the bulbs, and trying different outlets, with no improvement. Has anyone had a similar issue and success in fixing it?

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  13 answers
  • Shari Shari on Aug 25, 2014
    Through the years, I have had several lamps that I purchased with this touch-on feature. My husband has also converted several regular lamps to touch-on with some type of touch sensor device he bought at Home Depot or Lowes. He takes the bottom felt off the lamp and inserts it (or wires it) to the lamp's insides. From my experience, they do wear out after awhile. In fact, I have one right now that doesn't work at all and one that mysteriously turns on by itself. I'm sure if you ask in the lighting department of Lowe's, Home Depot, or a local hardware store, you can get a replacement.
  • The touch sensors on many of these lights do fail over time. Although a simple fix the electronics are pretty complicated. To make the repair, you will need to purchase a new control. This control is located under the base where the felt or rubber base is located. Remove that and you will find a small box shaped device. Photograph the device and the wires so its easier to put back together remove it and replace with a new control. You may be able to find them at the better lamp stores or the big box stores, but you may end up paying a lot for this. Check out Ebay, prices are around $10 for the part. Follow the directions and its fixed in less then 15 min. Another pointer is the bulb size. Most of these are only rated for nothing more then 100 watt bulbs. If you exceeded that size, this may have been the reason for its failure.
    • See 2 previous
    • @Peggie B- Sure if your comfortable with working with electrical. However many of the fans sold today are so inexpensive it always seems that the control parts end up costing almost as much as the fan itself.
  • Sandra Sandra on Aug 26, 2014
    I have two lamps that were touch. The mechanism in one lamp burned itself out. Went to local store (don't remember if it was Walmart or Target) and was going to purchase replacement part. But, after seeing the price decided that just a normal socket replacement would do nicely. Being a touch lamp was not that important to me. So. consequently I have only one touch lamp and one switch lamp But could change back if desired. It is very easy to replace touch part usually located in or under the socket but sometimes it is in the lamp base. Follow directions that comes with and you will be able to repair yourself.
    • Sandra Sandra on Aug 27, 2014
      @Sandra My touch lamp operates fine with touch and with thunder or other loud noise such as clapping. Many will do this too. Also, mine turns on and off with an interruption in power. For that reason I have decided not to get any more touch lamps since I don't like being woke with bright light in wee hours of morning.
  • Pat Pat on Aug 26, 2014
    You can buy an apparatus that makes a lamp a touch at Lowes. It will work on a single turn lamp, not a two (dim or light) lamp. We just took the felt on the bottom of the lamp and by-passed the bad touch mechanism and made it a turn on/turn off lamp. Not worth the bother to pay for a new switch.
  • Barb in Texas Barb in Texas on Aug 26, 2014
    Ive been to both Lowe's and HD here in Houston, and both said I'd have to buy the component from a specialty store. They all want $50 to replace it, and won't sell it to me to do the work myself. I have 5 touch lamps, all 3-way, and only one works now, so I'm very interested in these replies.
  • Judy Judy on Aug 26, 2014
    Had the same problem with my bedside lamp that had 3 light levels. Removed the sensor switch (inside the base), took it down to our local plumbing/electrical store & got a replacement for about $12. The new one has 4 light levels instead of 3 but I can live with that. It was a really simple fix. Good luck with yours.
  • Jane R. Jane R. on Aug 26, 2014
    I have two touch lamps. I've replaced the sensor in both. I bought them at a store called Lights Unlimited. My lamps have three levels of light, low, medium and high. One of them works perfectly, the other one worked for awhile then I couldn't turn it on and when I could, I couldn't turn it off. I keeps coming on by itself, first on low, then medium then high and keeps cycling this way all the time. It's in my bedroom and this keeps me awake, so I unplugged it. Funny thing is that if I move it to another room it works fine, but I want it in my bedroom. The sensor doesn't cost that much but I don't think I want to replace it again. Not if it keeps doing it's own thing. If you want to replace the sensor, it's not hard to do.
    • See 3 previous
    • Ed M Ed M on Aug 28, 2018

      Found your 2014 post and have the same problem AND have already switched out the sensor. Question for you: did your lamp have a 2 or 3 prone plug? Mine is an old 2 prone plug and I am thinking that may make the capacitive switch less reliable. Input would be appreciated.

  • Gail lichtsinn Gail lichtsinn on Aug 26, 2014
    we used to sell i remember radio shack sells a replacement rhiostat
  • Jane R. Jane R. on Aug 28, 2014
    @Judy Thanks, The lamps are identical. I switched them out but the other one won't work in my room either. I tried them both on different outlets in other rooms and both will only work on certain outlets. I don't think switching the sensors would help. I'm giving up. I appreciate your help.
    • Judy Judy on Aug 29, 2014
      @Jane R. Sounds like the problem might be with the circuit breaker......
  • Some of the lamp switches require that the polarity of the wires are correct. @Jane R. Try to turn the plug over and see if it changes anything. If you ever look at a plug, one of the tabs is larger or wider then the other. This is to assure that the neutral grounded white wire is connected to the neutral side of the lamp. Over time the outlets begin to wear and it becomes easy to put the plug in upside down.
    • See 2 previous
    • Judy Judy on Sep 02, 2014
      @Woodbridge Environmental Whew.....makes me wonder why I've never had any trouble with either of mine other than having to replace a worn out switch several years ago. We live in an older place with not so great wiring so it's a wonder ours have been trouble free.
  • Dawn R Fischer Dawn R Fischer on Aug 28, 2014
    Thank you for all the feedback! It was the sensor. Solved.
    • Judy Judy on Aug 29, 2014
      @Dawn R Fischer Glad you solved your problem.
  • Ed M Ed M on Sep 05, 2018

    Has anyone noticed a difference in on/off reliability of contact switching on lamps between lamps with 2 prong plugs and lamps with 3 prong plugs? If so, any good explanations for why and how to fix the issue?

  • Paul-mast Paul-mast on Nov 27, 2019

    My (Ikea Kulla) lamp did not respond to touch anymore and turned itself off and on like it was possessed. I took the thing apart, removed the guts, soldered the ends together and installed a new cord with a built-in switch. Voila, new life, works like a charm!