How To: Replace the Plug on the End of a Cord

Disclaimer-Captain DIY and highly recommend exercising extreme caution when attempting DIY projects. Not everybody can do everything, and some things should only be done by professionals. Keep your digits attached, and keep the insurance company off of your back. Do it right or call the right people!

Welcome to DIY to FI! If you’re new here, this blog focuses on how best to optimize our DIY skills as one pillar on our Journey to FI loft.

The things we use on a regular basis in our lives take abuse. We might not be conscious of it, but that time we pulled the vacuum cord out of the wall from down the hall by flinging the cord around? That did some damage.

Fear not, for your pal Captain DIY is here with repair solutions to keep you from having to hire help or buy new! Today we will be going over how to replace the plug on the end of a cord. You have (hopefully) gotten your tools together, so let’s get started!

Get to Work

The first thing we’re gonna do is lop the end right off that sucker. Take your cutters and chop the end off right at the edge of the plug. We don’t want to lose too much cord here! When you are done it’ll look a little something like this:

I’ve got 99 problems, and this is one

This is the point where we separate the pretty cool from the awesome: before we do stuff that we will need to undo later, let’s prepare for the future by taking the replacement plug apart and putting the outer piece (the black part in my pictures) on the cord and let it slide down. Just make sure you put it on the right way; we want the part we pulled the prongs off to be facing the end of the cord.

A solution looms in the distance!

Now for the tricky part: We need to trim the exterior jacket off of the cord so we can get to the wires inside, but we don’t want to cut into the insulation of the individual wires. The right amount of pressure is key; not too much, just enough to be able to peel back the jacket. Ring around the jacket with your blade about three inches down from the end, then make a cut lengthwise from your ring to the end of the cord.

Try to leave at least a few fingers behind for the next job

Once you have bandaged up your scalloped digits and stopped the blood flow, get those wire strippers out and strip about a half inch of insulation off the end of each wire. Give the loose copper a few twists clockwise to tighten it up, as this will make insertion into the terminals much easier and less sweary. I like to spread the wires out from each other and give them a bit of a bend near then end so they all end roughly parallel with each other.

The Three Stooges

Okay, grab that piece with all of the prongs on it and shove the wires in! Then take them out because you forgot to loosen the terminals. Now put them back in. If you have spread them out and bent them just so, you should be able to insert all three of the wires at once. This is immeasurably easier than doing them one at a time, a reduces the amount of inevitable stragglers that don’t make it into the holes. Important Note: The ground wire (green) goes into the hole with the green screw, the neutral (white) goes into the terminal with the silver screw, and the hot (black, maybe blue if it’s European) gets matched with the brass screw. You may need to shuffle the wires to match.

Easy-peezy, watermelon squeezy

Wow, that sucked, huh? Maybe not, but if this is your first time, it probably did. Don’t worry, after several dozen more it’ll be smooth and easy. Just kidding, that part never gets easy! Maybe you’re better off just buying a new vacuum…

No! That’s not how we do things around here! We fight through the suck and we crush the job! Ok, now that we’re back on track, let’s tighten down those screws. Make sure they’re tight enough to hold that cord, but you don’t have to go crazy.


Once those are all set, slide that outer piece that we put on at the beginning up to the piece we just put on and line up the screws. Expert Hint: The ground screw is usually on the same side as the opening.

It’s starting to look like it just might work!

You got those pieces together, now it’s time to put the strain relief clamp on. This piece allows the cord to be yanked on (not recommended) without having that pressure experienced by the terminals. As long as the cord isn’t massive you should be able to tighten the strain relief clamp just about all the way down, but if it looks like it’s really crushing the cord you may want to back off a little.

Now for the big finish!

There’s one sure way to test your work here, and that is to plug that baby in and fire it up. Hopefully there’s no actual fire, and if you did your job well your appliance will turn on like it used to. Success!

Call the newspapers! It’s alive!

I should add this is not necessarily only for vacuum cords. You can make your own extension cords with this method as well, just make sure you pick up one female and one male cord end, and you can make your cord as long or as short as you want!

Well, that’s it. For a few measly little dollars you were able to resurrect your distressed appliance and save the day! Huzzah! Welcome to the wonderful world of DIY, and run and put those savings into something useful! Captain out!

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