Over the winter, my dog chewed through the power cord on an a/c window unit. I was going to just add a new plug as the cord is still long enough. I sliced into the wire and found 3 wires (ground, neutral, and hot) and wire braided throughout the cord. I assume this is part of the ground-fault protection, but I don't know how it affects rewiring it. I attempted to open the existing plug to investigate, but it's molded plastic and I haven't been able to get into it. Do I have to use a ground-fault plug or can I just use the 3 wires and wire in a new 3 prong plug? Thanks in advance.

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    I'd guess that the braided wire is not used electrically, instead it may be included to strengthen the cord. Think unit falling out of the window, and dangling by the cord. – Tester101 Jun 1 '15 at 16:57

I would assume the braid is just for strength. Ground fault relies on detecting current leaks between hot and neutral.

However, if the existing plug is a GFCI plug, then it is advisable to replace it with a comparable part. Alternatively, you could replace the outlet with a GFCI outlet, or even a GFCI breaker. This would provide the same level of protection with a standard plug.

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    I would recommend against putting a normal plug on it and relying on a GFCI breaker/outlet - because one day you (or someone else) will move that window AC, and forget that it needs GFCI protection, since it's normally built into the plug. – Grant Jun 1 '15 at 17:33
  • Sure, but finding an outlet or breaker might be easier than finding a plug. You could always put a tag on it saying "Must be plugged into a GFCI device" or something like that. – Steven Jun 1 '15 at 18:31
  • GFCI replacement plugs are easy to find online or in big-box home improvement stores. I think the only appropriate replacement plug is a GFCI one. – Hank Jun 1 '15 at 19:44
  • The receptacle is a GFCI. I don't know why I would need a GFCI plug too. I should have included that info in the original post. The braid in the wire through me off, and I wanted to be sure it wasn't part of the GF wiring. I thought it might somehow have had a purpose like a RCA wire for stereo systems. Tester101 mentioned it may just be for added strength "Think of the unit falling out of the window, and dangling by the cord," which makes sense. – bonbilla Jun 1 '15 at 21:57
  • @bonbilla: You should replace the plug with another GFCI plug so that you aren't circumventing an important safety feature. If in a few years you move the unit to another window that doesn't have a GFCI receptacle, you've created a problem. AC units generate lots of water and you want to make sure you and your family are protected. GFCI replacement plugs are relatively inexpensive; just do it right. – Hank Jun 2 '15 at 16:25

Some air conditioner units are fitted with a type of plug known as a Leakage Current Detector Interruptor (LCDI) plug which uses that braid to pick up on leakage caused by damaged cords -- this is used for fire safety reasons.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any way to fit replacement LCDIs to damaged appliance cords.

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