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Accidentally I cut my extension cord with the hedge trimmers in a tight spot. Normally I would just rewire it with a new end from the hardware store. However, a friend told me that repaired cords are illegal.

Are repaired extension cords covered by building codes (such as NEMA)?

Are repaired extension cords covered by safety codes or guidelines from major organizations (e.g UL, OSHA, etc.)?

  • 1
    Legal question is sort of off topic. Can you reword your question to a home improvement problem? – Kris May 8 '17 at 13:14
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    Using a listed cord cap is a legal method of repair a extension cord. – Ed Beal May 8 '17 at 13:22
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    I didn't think they'd sell the ends if you couldn't use them. If you're running a business there's more procedure involved to comply with OSHA (in the US) standards for worker safety, but I'm pretty sure you can legally repair your own home-use extension cords with a retail plug (sold for this purpose). – Chris M. May 8 '17 at 13:25
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    Cords can be repaired in an industrial facility also I have been doing this for years and never received a write up but have had them looked at by inspectors. – Ed Beal May 8 '17 at 13:36
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    @ChrisM that wouldn't stop them. Big-box is full of "how can they still sell this?" items and they're often the dominant product.. Non-HVLP automotive spray guns. Receptacles not TR. NEMA 10 receptacles. NEMA 2. Panels with 20 bonus breakers, none GFCI or AFCI, and no residence can possibly use 20 plain breakers. Meanwhile over in pharma, a few people abuse Ephedra, boom banned. – Harper May 8 '17 at 14:00
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Replacement cord ends are not illegal for home use in the USA. They are, however, disallowed by some jobsite governing organizations (OSHA, for example) in certain situations.

Just make sure you're familiar with the fundamentals of electricity and know how to make good electrical and mechanical connections. (The cable jacket should usually extend into the plug and be retained by its clamp.)

  • My contractor tossed out an expensive extension cord due to frayed outer insulation. He said OSHA will shut down the site if it was in use during any inspection. He said it's fine for me to repair it, just not his business. – fred_dot_u May 8 '17 at 14:24
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    Frayed insulation is really a different issue. Clearly a safety factor that probably warranted that action. The OP as I see it, was is a repaired connector (done in a good workmanship manner) acceptable. Then the issue of "site" arose. – DaveM May 8 '17 at 14:50
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    I just voted you good answer. As for the following comments, like everything else it depends on the OSHA inspector, but if you have frayed outer insulation it will trip a GFCI in wet weather. Which means the cord is defective and needs to be replaced. (By the way it will work perfectly in dry weather.) Most inspectors will allow replaced cord caps if they are approved as such, but they will probably want you to go to an assured grounding procedure. Who wants to do that? – Retired Master Electrician May 8 '17 at 15:19
  • Adding additional context/perspective: The best authority is your insurance agent, asking them about replacement ends (no insulation damage), AND that the extension is for "non-permanent use" which your yardwork entails. Honestly I expect they'll just say "no" out of risk-exposure aversion. Related thought: NEC code forbids extensions for "permanent" installations (like garage door openers and lights) but they're commonplace and claims are rarely denied for common-sense applications, BUT anyone thinking of using repaired extensions for "permanent" installations would be wise to reconsider. – Crossfit_and_Beer Dec 5 '18 at 16:03
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I found this OSHA interpretation Re: Whether extension cords may be repaired and returned to use.

Question: Where an extension cord being used in construction has been damaged near the plug end, is it permissible to replace the plug with an approved cord cap made for that type of cord, provided the repair is done by a qualified electrician?

Extension cords used in construction may be repaired, so long as the repair returns the cord to the "approved" state required by §1926.403(a).

This section states, "All electrical conductors and equipment shall be approved."

The repair of cords and cord sets is permitted under 1926.404(b)(1)(iii)(C):

Each cord set, attachment cap, plug and receptacle of cord sets, and any equipment connected by cord and plug, except cord sets and receptacles which are fixed and not exposed to damage, shall be visually inspected before each day's use for external defects, such as deformed or missing pins or insulation damage, and for indications for possible internal damage. Equipment found damaged or defective shall not be used until repaired. (Emphasis added.) Repairs of extension cords are therefore permitted under §1926.404(b)(1)(iii)(C). However, in order to remain compliant with §1926.403(a), the repairs must return the equipment to the state in which it was initially approved.

Similar repairs are discussed in our May 19, 2003 letter to Barry Cole:

To satisfy the requirements of the OSHA standards, a repair would have to restore the tool to its "approved" condition in accordance with §1926.403(a). Tools ... are approved as complete factory-produced entities. The approval is for the tool as a whole - its design, capacity, materials and construction. This provision precludes the use of an approved tool if its characteristics are materially altered.

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.

This letter was dated 2010.

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    OSHA has no authority in my home or yours. – isherwood May 8 '17 at 20:56
  • @isherwood Unless you're a contractor doing renovations or something. – JMac May 9 '17 at 11:29
  • Insurance has authority (unless you have no mortgage). Insurance will not quote OSHA in their policy, but they will independently have their own policy on the matter. That's VERY relevant ,regardless of applicable or inapplicable laws and codes. – Crossfit_and_Beer Dec 5 '18 at 16:07
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If the cord is modified, the UL certification is nullified. For home use, this could make no difference. However, if the cord were to start a fire, your insurance company could argue that it was due to a faulty repair. This could cause them to deny the claim, and you'd be liable for the damages. If the cord caused injury or death, you could potentially be held liable for that as well.

If you're willing to accept these risks, go for it. Otherwise, go buy a new cord.

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    I disagree. The cord wiring is listed a replacement end is listed. Repairs are allowed. I have many that have been repaired in the plant and the only ones that the inspector have really examined were the less expensive models that looked like unlisted imports once the UL stamp was verified the inspector was happy. – Ed Beal May 8 '17 at 18:59
  • @EdBeal you are a professional, and are qualified to make the repair. – Tester101 May 9 '17 at 0:38
  • This is a liability question and boils down to a simple question. I'm going to agree with Test101 here...the owner should call and ask the insurance agent and get the word straight up. Any thing the insurance co. can find to avoid a claim you better believe they will find. And unless you're self-insured best not take the gamble. – Kris May 9 '17 at 17:21
  • @EdBeal what do you think the questioner will hear for an answer, if they call their insurance agent for clarification? (I agree with you that "ends" repairs are trivial especially for non-permanent use, but people can still make mistakes... stray strands, or swapped hot-neutral that still "works". ) – Crossfit_and_Beer Dec 5 '18 at 16:10
  • This is the same as a home owner doing there own maintaince totally legal in much of the U.S. it is legal to replace light fixtures, switches and outlets with no permits required, yes there are a few that require an electrician but these are a tiny minority. I expect the agent would ask if listed parts are used and assembled to code criteria. It's not rocket science. – Ed Beal Dec 5 '18 at 16:38
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Per my OSHA interpretation the cord can be repaired. As long the cord is returned to the approved state required by 1926.403A. Repair of the cord is allowed by 1926.404.b.iii.c. It may be found by interpretation 27353.

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You have two "sub-questions" here.

Can I use a cord end replacement kit for a cord in use in my home?

Yes, absolutely. In many cases the repaired end may be of better quality and safer then a original end. Not so say that the original end is unsafe, but, for example you can get a "fatter" plug that covers the socket better and helps keeps your toddlers fingers out of the socket.

There is no governing body (IANAL, I am in the US, may vary based on location, other legal disclaimers as needed) that can tell you not to use a repair kit. There is a "governing body" that certifies that the kits are safe to use.

Example End Replacement From Lowes is a good example.

It's fatter, which helps keeps toddles from touching the prongs, and "Meets UL FedSpec WC596" which means it has been deemed safe to use.

Are there any legal issues when using a replacement/repair kit on an extension cord?

In your home no. In a work environment, maybe, but generally no.

So lets focus on a work environment. Lets say you have a coffee pot, plugged in via extension cord. Now Bill, the receptionist comes along and cuts the extension cord. Bill can not just stick the repair kit on the end. He is not qualified. But he can call Bob, the electrician, and Bob can come out and stick the end on. That said, Bob charges $190 an hour, and he already has to come out (Bill can't replace the extension cord either, cause it's on a coffee pot). So do you pay Bob the electrician $190 or just ask if he has a spare cord laying around he can let you have. Bob will probably just give you an extension cord, and plug it in for you, because your a long time customer and it only takes a second, and if you can wait till Thursday he will be in the office anyway. But he will charge you to install the plug end.

Which is now better. Paying Bob $190 to install a plug end, or just getting a new extension cord.

There are some situations (usually high voltage, or high amperage applications) that a plug end is not allowed. But even these are few and far between.

TL/DR

When using a cord repair/end replacement kit properly, it is perfectly safe and legal. In the "business world" it gets more complicated, just like many other things, but when done properly is still generally legal.

  • There IS a governing body: your insurance company. Their policies will extend codes, laws, and regulations and are independent rules to follow. – Crossfit_and_Beer Dec 5 '18 at 16:12
  • An insurance agent is not the governing body. There are electrical codes and listing agency's. An insurance company can not decline coverage for a code legal repair using listed parts in a residential location. For commercial/ industrial locations the work needs to be done by a qualified person usually requiring a license but not always for repairs depending on the AHJ. – Ed Beal Dec 5 '18 at 16:28

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