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How to Remove an Electrical Plug

Sometimes after years of use, electrical plugs can wear down. They may not stay securely in a socket, or loose wires in the plug may cause your device to turn on and off erratically. Instead of buying a new appliance, simply repair or replace the plug—a straightforward task.

Removing the Plug

Unplug the device from the wall before you do any electrical work.

Look for a way to disassemble the plug. Some plugs piece together like a clam shell with one or two small screws. Others have a small plastic piece either between the prongs or on the side opposite the prongs that you can slide out to reveal the wires inside.

Check that the wires inside the plug are securely screwed down to their respective terminals and that the wires do not touch each other, which creates a short-circuit. Try tightening the posts securing the wires, wrapping the wires in electrical tape and reassembling the plug, which can solve several problems at this stage.

If you cannot take apart the plug, cut through the cord with the wire cutters at the base of the plug.

Take the plug you removed to a hardware store to find a replacement plug. Note whether the old plug had two prongs or three.

Remove the outer layer of insulation from the cord to reveal about one inch of wires at the end you just cut. Spread apart the two or three wires inside.

Identify each of the wires inside the cord. An uninsulated wire or one wrapped in green insulation becomes the ground wire; attach it to the round prong on the new outlet. A wire wrapped in black becomes the “hot” lead; attach it to the broader prong. Attach the remaining wire, usually wrapped in white or red insulation, to the remaining prong.

Attach the new plug, matching up the wires as described in Step 5. Remove as little insulation as possible—generally not more than 1/2 inch from the end of the wire. Wrap the bare wire around each post and tighten the screws on each post inside the plug. Make sure exposed wire touches nothing else inside the plug other than then prong to which you attach it. Wrap electrical tape around the wires if necessary.


Never work on electrical wires or plugs without disconnecting from the power source first—otherwise, severe electric shocks can result. If uncertain about doing the repairs yourself, contact a licensed electrician to do the work for you.

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