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Rewire a Three-Pin Plug in Ten Easy Steps

By Karin Mangan
Rewire a Three-Pin Plug in Ten Easy Steps

Frayed wires or wires that are not properly connected can lead to appliances that don't work properly. They can also be a fire risk. 3-wire power cables and 3-pin plugs are increasingly replacing 2-pin plugs in the U.S. because they are safer, so knowing how to rewire a three-pin plug is useful knowledge.

How to Rewire a Three-Pin Plug

  1. Open the cover of the plug and loosen the grip or cord clamp holding the flex in place. Or, if it is a one-piece molded unit, cut the flex so that you can fit a new plug.
  2. The flex that enters a plug has three wires, each with a colored insulating cover, plus an outer protective cover, which is the part you see.
  3. Strip away about one and a half inches of the outer layer of the flex using a sharp knife, taking care not to cut or nick the insulation of the wires inside.
  4. Each of the three colored wires is connected to a screw inside the plug. Either make a note of which wire is connected to which screw or, if you are replacing a molded plug, refer to the picture template that should be included with the new plug.
  5. The three wires are colored white, black and green. Use wire strippers to strip about half an inch of the insulation from each wire then twist the strands of bare wire together so that none are sticking out.
  6. To connect the wires, loosen the appropriate screw inside the plug then push the bare wire into the hole and tighten the screw again.
  7. Connect the green "earth" or "ground" wire to the green screw at the top of the plug, the black "live" or "hot" wire to the brass screw on the right, next to the fuse, and the white "neutral" or "common" wire to the white screw on the left.
  8. Replace the grip or cord clamp that holds the flex in place, making sure it grips the outer cover not the colored wires.
  9. Replace the plug cover and screw or clip the unit securely back together.
  10. It is important that no bare wire is visible, either when the colored wires are screwed into the terminals or when the plug is closed up.

Frayed or damaged appliance cords pose a fire risk and should be replaced immediately. For more information about electrical fire safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration.

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