DIY Basics: How to Change a Plug

Learning to change a plug is one of the most basic DIY tasks. But is arguably the most important (thanks to our modern obsession with electrical products). Since the humble electrical plug has changed very little over the years, this task comes with the rare advantage of thwarting redundancy. This further adds to its value.

Don’t forget, while this DIY job is relatively straightforward, it comes with its risks (as any electrical related job will). So don’t rush and always take the utmost care!

What You’ll Need:

  1. A cross head (or Philips) screwdriver
  2. A normal flat head screwdriver
  3. Wire strippers (but a knife can work)
  4. Some pliers
  5. A new plug

(I included some links above to specific items if your toolbox is lacking them, however, if you head to Wickes you’ll be able to get your hands on everything you need.)

How to Change a  Plug:

Remove the Wires:

Firstly, take the existing plug and your Philips screwdriver to unscrew the central screw that’s holding the plug together; once this is removed the top of the plug should open.

Next, loosen the screws that are holding the plastic cover across the wires, however, make sure not to undo both of them completely. It only requires the full removal of one to remove the plastic cover. But you’ll need to loosen both to allow for some wiggle room.

When you’ve removed the plastic cover to reveal the inner workings of the plug, take your flat head screwdriver and loosen the screws that are holding the three cables in place.

Once the plug is loose enough, you should be able to gently prise the wires out of each of their holders to completely remove them from the plug itself.

Now, cut the wire off at the part where all the wires are together, this should give you a clean edge.

Prepare the New Plug:

When you need to change a plug, you’ll need to prepare your new plug (many new plugs now come with a wiring diagram to help you see what goes where.)Plug change

Once again you’ll need to remove the central screw with a Philips screwdriver. Then release one of the screws on the clamp and to twist the plastic casing out of the way.

Now, with your pliers remove the outer sheath of the wire a few inches from the end; be very careful here not to cut through any of the wire, only the sheath. You can ensure this by making little pinches all the way round. Be patient, and don’t use excessive force! Simply slide the sheath off to expose your three plug wires.

The Technical Bit:

Take the now exposed wires and place it on top of the newly prepared plug, making sure there’s sheath on the wire where the clamp is fastened.

When positioned correctly with the blue on the left-hand side, (which is neutral) brown or red on the right-hand prong (which is always live) and the yellow or green earth cable placed in the middle. You should position the wires in such a way as you can see that you will be able to fit each wire into its respective home and cut to size if necessary.

Now, using your wire cutters, you will need to strip each of the wires to expose roughly 5mm at the end. Once stripped, give the exposed copper wires a twist around. This will make them easier to fit and stops any loose wires from floating around.

Plug wires

Take the live wire first (brown or red) and place it in its holder and immediately tighten, making sure there’s no exposed copper wiring.

Next, repeat the process with the earth, using your screwdriver to push the wires into their place where needed.

Finally, put the neutral blue wire into its holder. If you need to pull the holders slightly out of the plug while fitting that’s fine. Then tighten the wire in, then push everything back into place and give it an extra screw.

Don’t forget: check for any exposed copper wiring.

Tying Up Loose Ends:

You can now push everything down into place ready to be sealed. Twist the clamp back over to cover the wires and refit the second screw, tightening both clamp screws fully.

Opened plug

Now, reseal the cover. If everything has gone to plan, it should fit snugly. You’ll be able to tighten it with the central screw. If you can’t get the cover on properly at this stage, there’s probably an issue with your wiring that you can solve by gently prodding things into place with your screwdriver.

And there you have it, how to change a plug!