Monday, February 1, 2016

Replacing a Plug on an Expensive Appliance to Save Money

On Thursday afternoon I bunkered down for a major cooking session, as I had two families of guests coming over on the weekend, and I planned on doing a lot of cooking from scratch. I took out my food processor, something I needed for at least 5 or 6 different dishes, and it simply wouldn't turn on. I tried so many things, one after another, and nothing worked. Eventually, I unplugged it, and as I pulled out the plug for the transformer that I needed to use to be able to use my American food processor, one of the prongs came off of the plug.

That was the issue.
And it was a huge one.

I use my transformer regularly. I paid $185 dollars for my transformer on sale, and need it to run my heavy duty grain grinder, and my sewing machine. I didn't want to have to buy a new transformer, but without a usable plug, did I really have a choice?

I put the converter away, borrowed my friend's food processor that didn't need a transformer, and made my food... and then forgot about it.

My brother is getting married in two weeks, and the dress I bought needs some alterations done to it, and instead of paying a seamstress to do it, I decided to do what alterations I could, and only pay the seamstress for what I don't know how to do. So last night, I cut and pinned the dress, took out the sewing machine, took out the transformer, since my sewing machine is also an American appliance, went to plug in the transformer, and then remembered- the plug is broken; it is unusable.


Then Mike said "You can just change the plug, its not a big deal".


My whole life, if a plug broke, that's it. It's garbage. We never replaced plugs growing up and I grew up in a frugal household.

But Mike said it was easy, so simple that he didn't even know why I'd put it on my blog, since it's something everyone knows how to do. I said if I don't know how to do it, it means that it isn't common knowledge, something that everyone knows.

He was right.

It was easy.

$1.50 from the hardware store
I went to the hardware store, told the manager that I needed to replace a plug, hoping he'd have something I could use, and he said "Of course I have one"- it cost $1.50. He said it was easy to do- his main instructions were "the yellow wire is the grounding wire- make sure to put that in the grounding prong on the plug- the rest is easy." (Note- with American plugs you also have to make sure to put the other wires in the right places, hot wires and neutral wires, and the color coding of the wires isn't the same- here is American color coding.)

I brought it home intending to do it myself, but in the end Mike did it, me snapping pictures the whole time. (Sorry that the pics aren't so clear, he didn't stop for me to take pictures each step, so this is what I got.)

In addition to the plug, Mike used a razor blade and two types of wire cutters/strippers, and a screw driver. If we hadn't had them at home already buying them would have added a little to the cost, but since we had them already, it didn't.

To replace the plug, first Mike cut off the broken plug from the transformer with the razor blade.

A few inches further along the wire from where it was cut completely, he made a cut with the razor blade, this time just on the plastic casing from the cord, making sure not to cut the colored wires inside.

Using the wire strippers, he then pulled the casing off the wire, exposing the three inner wires.

He then used wire cutters to cut the casing on each of the inner wires, and then pulled off the casing, leaving an inch of copper wire exposed on each wire.

Meanwhile he unscrewed the plug, and it contained three prongs, each containing a hole and a screw, as well as a black piece which I'll get to in a bit. Mike unscrewed the screw on each prong a bit to make room for the wire.

He twisted the copper wire together so each wire was small enough to thread through the hole in the prong. and then screwed the screw back in to secure the copper wire in each prong.

Then he put each prong in its proper place, making sure the yellow grounding wire was in the right place, and that none of the copper wires were touching each other.

He then took this black piece which screwed on the bottom of the plug, where the large wire feeds into it, and then used it to secure the wire into place, screwing it down on both sides.

And from another angle.

Then he screwed the cover back on.

Voila! And it's done! Now the real question is... does it work?

I didn't believe it until I saw it, so I plugged in the transformer, took out the food processor, and turned it on.

It works!

This is so exciting! So exciting to know how to do something that I thought was reserved for electronics. And it was so simple that I'm not afraid of getting electrocuted!

And I'm really glad that by spending $1.50 I saved myself from needing to buy another $185+ transformer!

One last thing- every country's plugs are different, and replacing the plug in each country will be slightly different, but the basic idea remains the same. Cut the wire, expose the wires, secure them in the prongs (making sure they're the correct ones), then put it all back together. Really wasn't hard at all.

Whole thing took less than 5 minutes!

And now on to fix my dress!

Have you ever replaced a plug before? What kind of appliance was it? Did you find it hard or simple?
Who is right- me or Mike? Is replacing a plug something that everyone knows how to do, or something that not everyone knows how, and it wasn't silly to post it here?


  1. I never knew it was possible to do this

    1. I know, right? Its funny that my husband was sure that this was something everyone knew. I'm glad I wasnt wrong. :-D

  2. Thanks for your very timely post. I'm putting this info to good use today.

  3. I did this once on my vacuum (it was only $40 but I still couldn't afford a new one!) and it worked great! Being poor sure brings out the handyman in me!

  4. The live and neutral wires should be wired to the correct side. We were taught in school how to write a plug (uk), and we're taught that the bLue (neutral) goes on the Left and the bRown (live) on the Right.

  5. My husband knows how to do this but he took classes for this stuff in high school when they still taught trade classes. I knew as well but that's cos I was Daddy's little tomboy growing up. I know more than most women will because of Daddy. So your right Penny. It's not common knowledge. And I've only fixed a cut wire, not the actual plug in.

  6. I have replaced a plug on a George Foreman Grill, a vacuum cleaner and a lamp, if not more, but have never had to deal with transformers. It is easy and I've always found the salesperson helpful. So much cheaper than replacing the appliance. If you can find someone to repair (andf you are not confident), it is not that expensive either. Watch the repair and you will be able to do it yourself the next time.

  7. My father is an electrical engineer, so I have always known about this. He does things like buying an old lamp at a yard sale and replacing the worn plug or cord. My partner also enjoys electrical work, so I never have done a repair like this entirely on my own because it's only come up when I was living with someone who thought it was "fun and easy" rather than "work"--but I certainly think of it as a feasible project that I *could* do myself just by reading and following some instructions.

  8. This is terrific! We do this is our home, but it broought a bit of a comical, "Aha!" to my face as I read through!

  9. Thank you! I've seen my son and husband do it but I've never bothered to learn what thy're doing...this is great!
    A side question; it's not possible for you to buy another plug and then attach it to the appliance itself, right. I assume the appliance is 110 and you're in a 220 location but I don't really know how that affects the inner wires.


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