I have the below cord reel, rated 1000watt rolled and 3500watt extended. It was working great until someone used it to power a welder. The person told me that it stopped working a few times and he would reset the button.

Now the red button stays up, it will not click and stay down. It clicks and goes up right away. Tried it even without being plugged in, the same. I unscrewed it and everything looks new inside, no sign of anything burned or whatever. The cord also looks good, but since it does it even unplugged it may be something else.

Any ideas? Thanks.

my extension cord reel

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  • Can you get access to the thing on the inside that the red button is attached to, and give us some clear photos of it? Jul 13, 2019 at 20:01
  • just added them. Look quite new Jul 14, 2019 at 5:33

2 Answers 2


The red button is part of what is called a thermal circuit breaker. They open circuit when there is a current overload and pushing the red button is designed reset the breaker back to the closed condition. They are used in gear like this because they are low cost. But along with that they have a limited life time and limited number of trip cycles before they fail.

You could check as to where that cord reel was manufactured and if it has a legitimate safety agency listing. There are many products manufactured in certain countries where the quality of components is really low and fake safety agency marks are applied to the product labels. If your reel is one of that type it probably failed due to a crappy thermal breaker.

Even if the thermal breaker is a better quality unit it may simply have been severely over stressed by the user trying to run a welder on an extension cord like that. There was probably no attention paid to the ratings of the cord and the power requirements for the welder.

It may be possible to replace that thermal breaker if it is a standard component. If it is a custom or unknown component then your fixup job could be a bit more complicated. There are panel mount type thermal breakers that you may want to research to see if you can find something that would work as a replacement. But do be aware that as soon as you start to repair a low cost device like this, if the device does indeed have legitimate safety mark, that you would have to use exact replacement parts to maintain the certified safety rating for the device. Using cheap replacement parts may very well not be safe at all, especially if they are junk from certain countries.

  • so it has failed since the button will not work? I actually paid close to $60 for it but then in another country and everyone that handles it takes their cut. It says Manufactured in Austria but who knows. Do I look for thermal circuit breakers and give it a shot? Thanks Jul 14, 2019 at 5:37
  • if used with care, can I just remove it and tie the wires? I mean unroll it for more than 1000 watt? I know safety Jul 14, 2019 at 5:57
  • 3
    @Chlorinate06 - I cannot in good conscience tell you that it is OK to cut and tie the wires. After all someone tried to use this thing power a welder and someone may try to use it again and overload the amperage rating of the conductors in the cord. Also if you have to unroll the whole thing every time that you want to use it you may as well get a conventional extension cord. By the way the bit about unrolling it is that the wire in the cord has some resistance and when current passes though heat is generated due to this resistance. The coiled cord will heat up more due to no air circulation.
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 14, 2019 at 15:25
  • The added pictures show a circuit breaker that is very custom integrated into the unit. It also looks like the cheapest of cheap. And the fact that the wires are actually spot welded to the contacts something about the intended repairability. The welded contacts are probably better than push on spade terminals from the lower resistance (and thus less heat) in the connections.
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 14, 2019 at 15:32

When the circuit breaker gave up on my 20 metre 4 socket extension lead here in the UK I removed it and joined the neutral together to feed it straight to the sockets.

I use the lead for general household items like lawn mower, hedge trimmer and hand drill and I’ve had no further trouble in 10 years.

Only problem was getting access to the inside, even with the multiplicity of different sized, multi headed screws removed it was still a headache getting into the thing, as if it was deliberately put together that way for you to give up and buy another unit.

But I’m a Yorkshireman, we don’t give up that easy when there’s money to be saved.

  • 5
    While it's good that you've had success with this, bear in mind that any overload of the cord could cause problems at any time and without warning. We generally avoid providing answers that recommend circumventing safety features, as those who don't know how to do so probably also don't know what additional safety precautions to take. Besides, I doubt you'd like the feeling of knowing that someone followed your advice and started a fire causing loss of property or even worse, life.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 7, 2022 at 16:52
  • In particular, note this comment from two years ago stating effectively the same thing.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 7, 2022 at 18:05

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