Repairing Christmas Lights: Replace a C7 or C9 socket

November 26, 2018

One broken or missing socket on a C7 or C9 Christmas light cord can make for an exasperating installation.

Fortunately, there are replacement sockets available to make minor repairs to C7 and C9 cords. We don’t suggest you install 100’s of these by hand for custom sets but rather consider purchasing a spool with a non-traditional bulb spacing and skipping a socket as required.

Materials required

  • Repair sockets to match your cord style and color – these are specifically designed solely for 18 AWG wire. Be sure to match SPT-1 or 2.
  • ruler
  • washers – the size doesn’t have to be exact but look at the photos to estimate your sizes and configurations
  • channel locks

Assemble your materials. After we took this photo, Dave and I had a discussion about well-used tools and what they look like.

Make sure your light cord is unplugged.

If the socket is missing, measure to find where to install the socket.

Line up the base of the repair socket with the measured distance.

Using a washer protects the socket and evenly distributes the force required to puncture the thick insulation on this style of cord.

After you’ve lined up the socket with the base/cap and added the washer, press hard on the socket with the fleshy part of your palm to somewhat pre-seat the socket on the wire. This will not be enough pressure to complete the installation.

Grab the smaller washer and hold it on the bottom of the socket.

Complete the install by using channel locks to firmly press the contacts of the replacement socket through the insulation into the stranded 18 AWG copper.

Test the installation. Plug the set in, then install a bulb.

Job well done!

Shellie Gardner
Aside from throwing dinner parties that feature at least two kinds of cheese dip, Shellie's passions include travel, Mid-Century Modern furnishings and finding the perfect street taco. Has been known to snort laugh champagne.

7 thoughts on “Repairing Christmas Lights: Replace a C7 or C9 socket”

    1. No need to yell. Of course work of this type must not be done with the cord plugged in.

      I’ve updated the blog with a line at the beginning of the process to emphasize that and added a phrase to the text above the last photo to emphasize the point that the cord was unplugged during the work and then plugged in after the repair was complete.

      Good catch.

  1. What can I do if I need to REMOVE a base and not replace it. Those things are snug and I cannot figure out how to remove it from the line!! HELP!! My project is in danger…. as well as my sanity!!

    1. Commercially installed sockets aren’t really tailored for removal (as you’ve seen). Without looking at your line, it’s hard to determine what the resulting damage might do to your cord which would put a crimp in your installation.

      Can you simply leave the socket empty and wrap it with a couple turns of electrical tape to keep the spiders out?

    2. Unscrew the bulb. Inside the socket should be the two locking tabs that are part of the cap. You need to pry them off the socket where they connect. This will loosen the cap to be popped out.

  2. How do I get my NEW working mini Xmas lights to blink/ flash?? They are NEW out of the box!

    1. The only way to get them to blink or flash would be to install a red-tipped flasher bulb if a properly rated one was included with your set.

      Keep in mind that this would only be for smaller light strings with little glass bulbs. Not all mini light strings come with flasher bulbs. Note this makes the entire string flash on and off at the same time.

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