How to replace an AC power cord

A damaged power cord doesn’t have to mean the end of life for a tool or appliance. Power cords are usually replaceable with simple tools and minimal expense. Here’s how to replace an AC power cord.

If you can open up the device, do this. Open it up, snip the bad cord off, tie a knot in the replacement cord and splice it onto the remainder of the old cord.

If you can’t open the device, do this instead. Snip the cord off above the defect, splice the replacement cord onto what’s left and insulate it well with heat-shrink tubing.

Here’s how.

Sourcing a replacement AC power cord

how to replace an AC power cord
To replace an AC power cord, first you need to source a suitable replacement part.

First, you probably need a replacement power cord. Most hardware and home-improvement stores sell replacement appliance power cords. These cords tend to be expensive (around $12). But they’re usually rated for 10 amps or more and they’re ready to go with minimal prep work, making them safe and convenient. If you don’t mind doing more of the work yourself, get a UL-rated extension cord rated for an adequate amperage. You can do a Google search to find the approximate amperage of the device you’re repairing, but if the thickness is similar to the original cord or greater, you should be fine. Cut the end off, then trim back about an inch of the outer jacket and strip off about a quarter inch from the three wires inside.

Splicing the old cord

replace an AC power cord
When you replace an AC power cord and do the splice inside an appliance, the blue or gray wire nut is the size you usually want.

To splice onto the old cord, trim back about an inch from the old cord’s jacket. Then strip off about a quarter inch from the wires inside the old cord. If you’re working inside the device, you can twist the black wires together, then secure them by twisting a blue wire nut onto them, then slip a small piece of heat-shrink tubing onto the end of the wire nut and shrinking it with a hair dryer. Then repeat for the white and green wires (assuming green is present).

If you’re working outside the device, it helps to know how to solder. Ideally you’ll tin the old and new wires, slip a piece of heat-shrink tubing onto each wire pair, slide the tubing out of the way, twist the wire together, then solder them together, and let it cool. Then bend the twist back onto the wire and out of the way, slip the heat-shrink tubing over to cover the solder joint, then shrink down the tubing with a hair dryer. Then repeat for each wire pair. This yields a very durable and professional-looking repair that is stronger than the original wire.

If you don’t know how to solder, twist the wires together, then bend them back. Wrap a piece of electrical tape around it. Then secure the whole thing with a length of heat-shrink tubing. Be careful. If you pull on the wire hard enough, you can unravel the wire. A soldered connection is much stronger.

At any rate, if you need to replace an AC power cord, you have some options.

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