How to get a vacuum working again?
January 14, 2009 1:54 PM   Subscribe

My dog chewed the power cable on my vacuum. Not realizing this, I turned it on and burnt a fuse. Is there any option other than replacing the vacuum? Would it be safe to wrap it with electrical tape?
posted by matkline to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
You probably have the hot and neutral wires in the power cable touching, causing a short leading to the fuse blowing (I assume the blown fuse was in your home, not the vacuum). The cord should be replaced - not safe to just wrap it, as it could happen again and, if the fuse doesn't blow again for some reason, possibly cause a fire.
posted by exogenous at 2:04 PM on January 14, 2009

The fact that you blew a fuse indicates that the damage isn't as simple as the insulation being compromised. You've got a short in there somewhere. You could replace the cord, but please don't try unless you know what you're doing. There are still shops around that will do repairs on appliances like vacuum cleaners, and a cord replacement should be an easy and cheap job for one of those.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2009

Don't replace the vacuum, unless it was just so mad cheap that you're unwilling to spend any money at all on repairing it.

You can easily fix a power cord. Safely, even. Here're a couple ways to go about it:

1) Go to the hardware store and buy a new plug end that matches the current one (in terms of groundedness and polarization). Cut the existing power cord off *above* the dog-chewed break. Split out the two (or three) wires inside the cable, strip a bit of insulation off the ends, and attach them to the new plug. Mind you, your cable will now be shorter than it was before. But you can do this for $1.99.

2) Order a new power cord from the manufacturer. Open the vacuum, unscrew the terminals holding on the current cable. Pitch that. Screw the new cable onto the terminals and close up the vacuum.

3) Buy an extension cord that roughly matches the dimensions of the original power cord. Cut the female end off. Replace the existing cord with the extension cord as per #2.

4) Take it to a vacuum repair shop.
posted by Netzapper at 2:06 PM on January 14, 2009

The safest thing is to cut off the damaged section and wire a new plug on to it.
On preview, what netzapper said.
posted by samj at 2:07 PM on January 14, 2009

yeah, replacing the power cord should be pretty straightforward or take it to a vacuum shop - we had our cord replaced once when we broke a prong off for $20 or so. He did it on the spot.
posted by GuyZero at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2009

Dont ever wrap power cords in tape. Even if you do it "right" what happens is that the adhesive weakens in a while and then it peels off causing, if youre lucky, another fuse blown and if youre unlucky electrocution or fire or both.

Have a vacuum repair place just replace the cord. Its not a big expense. If you dont have any electronics experience then please dont try the DIY route. 110 volts kills.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:19 PM on January 14, 2009

I had a slightly chewed cord that I electrical-taped about a year ago and it's been fine, but then again, it never had any issues when chewed, certainly not a blown fuse.

I would replace the cord.
posted by InsanePenguin at 2:34 PM on January 14, 2009

Given the abuse vacuum cleaner power cords take from being reeled in and out I would recommend a new power cord. This is a repair you can probably do yourself. The hardest part will be disassembling the vacuum to get at where the cord attaches. A vacuum repair shop probably won't charge you much to put one on though.
posted by caddis at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2009

Given the way the original question is phrased, Netzapper's #4 is really the only safe way out.
posted by Namlit at 4:01 PM on January 14, 2009

Seconding cut it off above the chewed part, strip 1/2" of insulation from the two internal wire-ends and attach a new mains plug. This is perfectly safe. You can always use an extension cord if the power cord is now too short to reach.
posted by Susurration at 4:30 PM on January 14, 2009

Vinyl electrical tape is not an approved insulator without the use of an underlying layer of tape, usually rubber or cambric. The modern use of electrical tape is to mark wires, not insulate them.

So, leave that out. Don't bother splicing, cords are too cheap. Either put a plug on the end and use an extension cord, or just take it to a shop and have them swap the cord.
posted by eriko at 8:20 PM on January 14, 2009

Replace the cord. Have someone do it for you if you're uncomfortable.

Your old cord has two or three cables. Your new cord will have two or three cables. There are 27 different ways to wire two three-cable cords together, and only one of them is right.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:11 PM on January 14, 2009

There are 27 different ways to wire two three-cable cords together, and only one of them is right.
It's not nearly that bad, though. Assuming that you're doing 1:1 wiring between the cords (I can't imagine doing anything else), there are only 6 possibilities.
posted by base_16 at 12:01 AM on January 15, 2009

The entire cord should be replaced (!). Judging by your question, you're probably not knowledgeable enough to do this, although it is a simple job for a repair person. They open the vacuum cleaner and replace the cord from where it attaches inside the machine so that the whole cord will be new. You can even ask for the new cord to be longer (or shorter) than the original.
posted by atm at 4:43 AM on January 15, 2009

It's not nearly that bad, though. Assuming [sense], there are only 6 possibilities.
Boy, do I have some stories for you.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:07 AM on January 15, 2009

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