How To Replace A Damaged Plug On An Electrical Cord

Electrical cord plugs are subject to a substantial amount of stress from everyday use, and this can result in the plug flexing, cracking and breaking. A damaged plug is dangerous and can be the source of an electrical fire or potentially-lethal shock. Therefore, it's important that damaged plugs be replaced. Fortunately, this is an easy repair for the do-it-yourselfer; below is more information on how you can make your plug as good as new:

Tools and materials

  • Replacement plug

  • Phillips-head screwdriver

  • Wire cutters

  • Wire stripper pliers

  • Utility knife

  • Ruler or tape measure

Step-by-step procedure

1. Keep electrical safety first and foremost - when performing electrical work of any kind, the most important consideration is safety. Of course, it goes without saying that the cord should be unplugged before attempting a repair. In addition, if your repair appears to be less-than-secure, then you should either re-attempt the repair or replace the cord entirely.

2. Purchase a replacement plug - new plugs, including both female and male connections, can be bought from hardware and home improvement stores for a modest cost. Replacement plugs consist of a removable cover and internal electrical terminals. Be sure to buy a plug with three terminals: one for the "hot" wire, one neutral and one ground, unless the cord contains only two wires and no ground. In that case, choose a replacement plug with no ground terminal and omit any steps below that relate to grounded connections.

3. Prepare the end of the cord - after making sure the cord is unplugged, use a pair of wire cutters to snip the cord just beneath the damaged plug. Measure one inch from the end of the cord, and carefully cut away the outer insulation with a utility knife; be careful not to nick the wires. After removing the outer insulation, strip away one-quarter of an inch of insulation from each of the three interior wires. Twist the ends of the bare wires so no loose strands are exposed.

4. Attach the plug to the cord - unscrew the removable plug cover and slide it down over the cord so you can reattach it later. Loosen each of the three terminal screws on the plug and observe the colors of each one; the brass-colored terminal is the "hot" connection, the silver-colored terminal is the neutral connection and the green screw is the ground connection.

Once the screws are loosened, the next step is to attach the appropriate wires to the terminals; the "hot" wire contains black insulation, the neutral wire is insulated with a white covering, and the ground wire is green.  In some cases, the ground wire will not be insulated but consist of bare copper. To attach the wires to the terminals, form small u-shapes out of each of the stripped ends. Slip the u-shaped ends over the screw posts of the matching terminals and hold them in place. Tighten the screws thoroughly so the wires will not slip and cause a short circuit, and double-check to make sure that none of the wires are touching one another.

5. Replace the cover and test the plug - after attaching the wires to the plug, slide the removable cover back up the cord and over the terminals. Tighten the screw that holds the cover in place, and verify that no uninsulated sections of the cord are exposed. Gently tug on the cord to make certain the connections are strong and that the wires won't easily pull free from the terminals. After the new plug is installed on the cord, plug the cord into verify that all connections are correct and that electrical continuity exists.

You can click here to read more about how an electrician can help you with the task above or other electrical tasks in your home.