If the ground prong on my extension cord breaks off, can I still plug the extension cord into an outlet without danger?

  • 1
    It would be safest if the outlet you plug it into is GFCI protected. – Tyson Aug 14 '16 at 7:09
  • 2
    Is there a reason you can't cut the broken end off and replace it with a field-fitted 5-15P? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 14 '16 at 10:10
  • It would be fine to use with an ungrounded device, but I would replace the end. – Brad Gilbert Aug 15 '16 at 0:30

The ground prong on an electric cord is there to protect you in case something goes wrong with the tool or appliance while you are handling or touching it. You will not die immediately without the ground prong, but you will no longer be protected from shock, burns, or electrocution by a faulty device.

There are several things that can happen to energize the casing of an electric device. The most likely is that the insulation on the hot wire could fail, causing the hot to touch the casing. This will cause the circuit breaker to pop open and protect you -- but only if the device is properly fault grounded. The ground prong is an essential part of this fault grounding.

I once heard my neighbor's kid complaining about the rules imposed by his mother. His exact words were "She's so dumb. I played in the street hundred of times and I never got hit by no bus." Operating without the ground prong is playing in the street and hoping there's no bus.

  • Thank you very much. I have 3 items plugged into the end. A microwave, a flat grill, and a convection oven. I should probably replace the end or just get a new cord. – steve Aug 15 '16 at 20:27
  • 1
    You realize EACH of those loads normally draws 10-15 amps, and require at least a 14AWG extension cord, preferably 12AWG, and even with that only one should be used at a time. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 15 '16 at 21:09
  • is it safe to use this way (surge protector power strip with ground broken off) if only plugging in low power devices such as CFL lamps and USB chargers? Do dangers include causing a fire or is this less likely? – Jules Manson Mar 25 '19 at 20:49

If the tool is undamaged and used in a safe manner, it will work. You will not be protected if either of those assumptions is false.

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