How to Replace a Plug

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Jan 01, 2011 | Rahel Jaskow
Electrical plug
Source: Samuel M. Livingston, Flickr.com

The appliance is good condition, but the plug is cracked or otherwise damaged. Or there’s a size discrepancy of some sort between the plug and the outlet, and you’d rather not use an adapter over the long term. Don’t despair – you don’t have to discard the appliance. All you need to do is replace the plug and it will be as good as new. Here’s how.

  • Decide whether you need a grounded or ungrounded plug. Grounded plugs have three prongs; ungrounded ones have two. If you’re not sure what sort of replacement plug to buy, cut the appliance’s cord an inch or two away from the old plug and take it with you when you head out to the hardware store. Choose a heavy-duty plug for added value – it will cost more, but it will also last longer.
  • Open the cover of the new plug. Depending on the manufacturer, you will need to unscrew it or pry it open with a flat-headed screwdriver.
  • If the old plug is still attached to the appliance’s cord, cut it off now. Use a wire stripper to strip each wire in the cord. You’ll need approximately half an inch to three quarters of an inch of bare wire.
  • Thread one wire under the screws at the end of each prong. In a two-pronged plug, you can connect either wire to either prong. If the plug has three prongs, make sure to attach the green-insulated wire – that’s the ground wire – to the round prong, which is the ground prong. (Remember: green goes to ground.) You can attach the other two wires any way you wish.
  • Replace the plug cover, and you’re good to go!

A Word to the Wise

While it may save you money and feel great to do improvements on your own, remember to be responsible and smart. Before you replace a plug, make sure that the plug is really the problem. If you should discover a problem in the appliance, don’t try to fix it yourself. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and have the appliance checked by a certified professional.

Also, keep in mind that the damaged plug may be a symptom of a much bigger problem. Take a close look at the electrical outlet where the appliance was plugged in. If you see any discoloration on the outlet plate, particularly around one of the openings, this is no time to call a painter. You’ve likely got a problem with the wiring in your home, and you’ll need to deal with it right away. Any responsible, qualified electrician from New York to Los Angeles will tell you to keep well away from that outlet until a professional comes to deal with the problem.

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