Extension cords make our lives easier both indoors and out. With their
help you can put your favorite lamp wherever you decide. With their help
you can
connect that table saw outside on a nice summer day so you don't have to
deal with saw dust inside the house. Since extension cords are used so
much it
is very easy for them to get damaged. Left un-repaired a damaged
extension cord can very quickly turn into a safety hazard.

Exterior extension cords have a tough outer jacket that is designed to
protect the inner wires. If that jacket is damaged, the softer inner
insulation around
the wires can become damaged more easily, so the first step in extension
cord safety is to check the overall condition of the outside of the
cord. Starting
at one end, examine the entire length of the cord to check for nicks,
cuts, crimps, abrasions or other damage to the outside jacket.

First of all, if the jacket is damaged, don't reach for the duct tape!
Damage to the outer jacket of an exterior extension cord - or any cord,
for that
matter - should never be fixed by wrapping it with tape. Tape of any
type, even electrical tape, does not have the strength or abrasion
resistance to make
a permanent repair.

Damage to the jacket, however, doesn't necessarily mean that you need to
discard the entire cord. If the damage is near one end or the other, you
can cut
off the end of the cord just past the damaged area, then add a new end
to replace the one you cut off. For damage that is closer to the center
of the cord,
cut out the damaged section, add new ends, and you now have two shorter
- and safer - cords to use.

Next, examine the ends of the cords. The male end - the end with the
three prongs that fit into an electrical outlet - is the one that is
most prone to
damage. The two flat power conducting prongs are subject to bending,
while the lower, round prong, which is the ground, can be sheared off.
On the female
end, look for damage to end itself, or looseness in the slots that would
prevent good electrical conduct with whatever is being plugged into it.

If one of the ends is damaged, or if you have had to cut the cord to
remove insulation damage, installing a new end is an easy process. Male
and female
repair ends are readily available at home centers, hardware stores, and
other retailers of electrical parts.

First, cut off the damaged end of the cord (if you are replacing the
female end, it goes without saying that the male end of the cord should
not be plugged
in!). Strip off the outer jacket of the cord, exposing the three inner
wires. The inner wires - black, white, and green - are typically woven
often with a filler made from paper or other material that helps keep
the woven wires in a round shape. With your fingers, unwind the wires
and straighten
them out, then cut off and discard the paper filler. Finally, strip the
insulation off the end of each of the three wires.

Most cord repair fittings are in two pieces, which helps keep the
weather-resistant. Loosen the screws that hold the two halves together,
and then separate
them. This will expose three screws inside, which is where the wires
will attach. Slip the half of the fitting that does not have the wire
attachment screws
onto the cord.

Closely examine the other half of the fitting that contains the wire
attachment screws. You will notice that one screw is green, one is a
silver color,
and the third is a darker color. Attach the green wire to the green
screw, the white wire to the silver screw, and the black wire to the
darker screw.
Check to see that each screw is snug but not over-tightened, that the
wires are well contained under the screw head, and that the wires and
the insulation
are not damaged in any way. Finally, slide the two halves of the fitting
together, and secure them by replacing the screws that hold them

Different cord end fittings have different requirements for how much of
the jacket and the wire insulation needs to be stripped off, and how
they are assembled.
Be sure and refer to the specific instructions for the type of fitting
you are using, and if you have any questions or concerns about how to
install the
fitting, it is best to either have the cord repaired by an electrician,
or simply discard it all together.

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