Electrical extension cords for lawn mowers, hedge clippers and chain saws sometimes come to grief – they can get clipped accidentally.
Cut electrical cords can be repaired safely and effectively, putting them back into service within minutes, and saving scores of dollars. Here’s how to repair them like a pro.
If the cut is near one of the ends, the best solution often is to install a replacement end, available at most home improvement stores. Throw away the old end and the short piece of extension cord. However, if the cut is more toward the middle of the cord, a repair can be done economically and effectively.
To repair an elecrical extension cord, peel back and remove about a foot of the outer covering on each piece. Cutting this outer covering can be difficult. Use a utility knife to cut back an inch or two, cutting on both sides. Grip both sides with thumb and finger and peel the covering back like peeling a banana.
The peeled back outer covering will reveal three wires. There will be a white wire, a black wire and a green or copper wire.The black and white wires are the power wires. The black wire is known as the ‘hot’ wire, and the white is called the ‘neutral’ wire. The green or copper wire is the ground.
Stagger the Splices
The black, white and green wires will be joined, or spliced, but first they need to be staggered so the splices will not be side-by-side. Here’s how it’s done:
The white wire on one side is shortened by six inches. The black white on the opposite side is shortened by six inches. Each of the green wires is shortened by three inches.
Remove about 5/8 of an inch of insulation on the ends of each of the individual wires. Join the white wires, the black wires and the green wires by overlapping and twisting them parallel onto each other, forming a compact join.
None of the three splices will be side-by-side. This reduces the risk of electrical shock or shorting in the unlikely event one of the splices comes loose.
Secure the Splices
Ideally, the splices should be soldered using non-acid core electrical solder. Once cool, clean the soldered splices thoroughly with soap and water, then check to see all of them are secure.
Wrap each of the splices with electrical tape, overlapping by about 1/4 of an inch, and then wrap the whole repair forward and back carefully with electrical tape, again overlappping each turn by about 1/4 of an inch. When I was working at carpenters Townsville we would actually do this two times just to be sure it was really secure.
Better yet, use the slip-on wire splicing sleeves that shrink when heated. Note, these need to be slipped on each of the three wires before they are spliced and soldered.
Larger slip-on sleeves are also available for the whole extension cord, as a replacement for the outer covering. This also needs to be slipped onto one or the other pieces to be joined before the splicing operation begins.
While these sleeves have proven to be effective, as an additional precaution it is best to wrap the sleeve with electrical tape, at least once each way, forward and back, overlappping each wrap by about 1/4 of an inch. Extend the wrapping at least two inches onto the original outer covering on each side.
This should provide a serviceable and reliable repair that will quickly put the extension cord back into service.