Proper preventive maintenance can prevent serious damage to your RV, or worse. When I first noticed our RV surge protector hissing upon plugging in our 30 amp RV electrical cord, I knew something needed to be fixed. When I saw smoke coming from the connection, I knew it needed to be done right now. But was it the surge protector, or the plug? Well, it’s cheaper to replace the RV plug than buy a new surge protector, so I started there.
NOTE: This job is similar to my post: How to Repair 7-pin Trailer Cord Plug – with a few less wires.
Cheap Easy Plug Repair to Prevent RV Electrical Fire
With a few simple tools, and an inexpensive 30 Amp RV plug, you can prevent serious damage (or worse) resulting from a faulty RV elecrtical cord. The stock RV electrical cord has a molded plug permanently attached to the end. Whether you have 30 amp or 50 amp power, replacement RV plugs are available for your cord.
Be sure you know what amperage plug you need before attempting this repair. All photos depict a 30 amp plug, though the procedure is very similar to replace the plug on a 50 amp cord.
Remove all screws from the replacement plug to open the cap and inspect how it is constructed. Unplug your RV from shore power and remove the plug from the end of the cord. If permanently attached, you will need to cut the cord to remove the plug.
Slice the rubber insulation close to the plug with a razor, exposing the inner wires. Then cut each of the wires with wire cutters. Make a slit down the cord about a couple inches, being careful not to press all the way through the rubber outer insulation.
You do not want to cut into the inner wire insulation. Carefully cut around the cord at the end of the slit to expose the inner wires. You should be able to tear the outer insulation off cleanly by cutting almost all the way through the thick rubber.
With inner wires exposed, use a stranded wire cutter/stripper to remove about an inch of insulation from each of the three wires – white, black and green. Using a blade to strip stranded wires can easily result in cutting copper strands. Wire strippers have clearly marked guides for easily stripping different gauges of wire.
Gently twist and bend the exposed wires, and make note of the pole positions marked inside the plug casing. Two will be marked BLK and WHT, the third (centered) pole may just have a green head on the crimping nut to hold the ground wire.
Most quality replacement RV plugs will allow you to remove the poles – or blades – from the slots for easily attaching the wires. The poles marked BLK and WHT are the same, and can be used for either black or white wires. Just be sure to insert them into the correct slots once the corresponding wires are attached.
Before sealing the plug cap, some replacement plugs will have a cord clamp that needs to be secured. If so, hold the metal strip in place around the cord and tighten with screws from the exterior side of the plug cap.
Double check to confirm the wire positions and ensure tight connections. You are ready to seal the plug by screwing the cap back together.
Tighten all the screws to secure the replacement plug to the RV electrical cord, and you are done. Upon plugging back into the power pedestal, I crossed my fingers.
No hissing or crackling sound, with no wisps of smoke rising from the plug. That’s a good thing, it was the plug after all, and we do not need to invest in a new RV surge protector! Fantastic, another cheap fix to a potentially extremely expensive and traumatic situation. Thanks to thinking fast, and being prepared with a spare part on hand – and having the right tools for the right job – we avoided another RV electrical catastrophe. Or at least another close call.
UPDATE: Replace Electrical Socket When Contact Corrosion Occurs
IMPORTANT: Thanks to Steve for his important feedback regarding this project. (See first comment below.) Apparently when spark corrosion like this occurs, it is imperative to address both parts of the problem – in this case, both contacts, the plug and the socket. I may be able to address this by following the same steps I illustrate above to replace the 30 Amp female plug receptacle on our surge protector. If not, it’s time to research and purchase a new, higher quality RV surge protector.
Don’t miss this important follow-up: