The ground prong on my backpack vacuum came off and stuck inside a wall outlet. Should I replace the plug or does the ground not matter much? The plug itself gets really hot now when I use the vacuum.

Thanks for advice.

  • How hot? Is it hotter than before the prong broke? It's normal for such cords and plugs to get warm in use.
    – Bryce
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 6:07

4 Answers 4


The ground prong is important. If a failure occurs that connects the hot to the parts of the vacuum that are supposed to be grounded, a functional ground prong means the circuit breaker trips. Lack of it means you get to play with electrocution. Devices that do not have a ground prong from the factory are "double-insulated" meaning that two separate failures would have to occur to connect the hot to the case (and in most actual product, have non-conductive plastic casings so you cannot touch any metal parts)

The plug overheating is an additional reason to replace the plug and would be even if the ground prong was intact.

So, replace the plug.

  • Ecnerwal do you think it is just the plug that is getting hot? :)
    – WarLoki
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 1:44
  • 4
    @WarLoki That's the implication of "the plug itself gets really hot now" as written - I don't claim any psychic ability to know more than the questioner has written.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 1:47
  • 1
    I did not mean that you have any psychic abilities, I meant (with sarcastic tone) do you think its just the plug that is getting hot. If a plug is getting hot that usually means that the wire making up to the plug may be going bad also.
    – WarLoki
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 2:08
  • "Getting hot" is not necessarily the same as "overheating". On every vacuum cleaner I've ever used, the cord gets noticeably hot while the vacuum is running. I presume this is due to the high current draw of the vacuum, combined with the requirement to have a flexible cord (hence with relatively thin conductors). I also presume the cord is designed to handle these temperatures without burning or melting. So you might have to consider "how hot" before jumping to the conclusion that the plug or cord is otherwise defective. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 1:08
  • @NateEldredge please note that the questioner stated "gets really hot now" - once again, reading what was written, that implies it is now getting noticeably hotter than it used to be; which is a likely sign of a need to replace it, ASAP.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 1:12

Yes to the plug, but you should also change the outlet if you can't get that prong out.


It depends. many vacuum cleaners have no ground conductor in the power lead and the ground pin on the plug does nothing but stabilize the plug, if that's the case, its still safe to operate ungrounded. But a plug that's getting hot should be remedied (replaced). When you do that you'll also have your answer to wether the ground pin is needed. (if the cable has a ground conductor the ground pin is needed for safety)

  • I'd say you should replace it even if it appears for stability. Paying for things isn't fun, but electrocution is even less fun. Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 19:47

You answered your own question, the plug is getting really hot NOW. Yes you need to replace the plug. The ground is there for your protection if the vac where to get a direct short and/or a static buildup charge from the carpet.

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