No power from cable extensions

27 Jan 2009
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United Kingdom
I hope someone can solve this very odd problem for me which has only very recently come about, as everything used to be fine!

I have a 3-year old Black&Decker Electric strimmer which works perfectly when its own attached power cable (which is not very long) is plugged into a mains socket. However, as soon as it's plugged into an extension lead, it sometimes works very briefly (for a few seconds) but most of the time there is no response whatsoever. I have three extension leads of different lengths and it works with none of them (I bought one of the extension leads yesterday, thinking that maybe the plug connections had worn on the other two). But all my other power tools work, plus lighting, perfectly when plugged into these same extension leads.

I have changed all the fuses but this has had no effect and I can't get into either the plug or the connection to the machine because they are both sealed. But I don't think that's the answer because the strimmer works fine when directly connected to the mains.

Anyone got any ideas?

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Well, from here I can only suggest a broken wire inside the strimmer cable but I would have thought it wouldn't work everytime when plugged into the socket directly.

Plug it into the extension lead and give the cable a good wiggle. If it starts and stops then definitely is.

Is there a part of the cable that is 'softer' or more flexible than the rest?
You could cut the cable and fit a new plug if it's that end and if it's the other end there must be some way in.
Just a thought, but how long are these extension leads?

I'm just wondering if you are getting massive volt drop causing a malfunction if there is nothing wrong with the internal wiring.

By the way, if it's a sealed plug you can cut it off and replace it with one you can get into in case of a loose connection.

AND!!!!! If you don't have these sockets protected by an RCD, get an extension lead with one built onto it.
Do the pins on the strimmer's plug have longer than normal insulated sections ? Compare them with the pins of plugs on tools that do work when plugged into the extension lead.

The contacts in some cheaper extension leads do not have a large contact area with the pin of the plug. It might be that the sockets have contacts that touch the pin of the plug very close to the insulated part of the pin thus making a non-reliable connection if the plug is pushed fully into the socket.
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Thank you all for your contributions, they were very helpful because (a) they were each different and (b) they enablede me to look more widely for a solution than I would otherwise have done.

I have cracked it after thinking about EFLImpdence's suggestion. I realised that the mains sockets I had been testing on (both in the garage and the utility room) were positioned high on the wall above work surfaces. The strimmer worked when I plugged in the strimmer's lead into the socket. But it didn't work when I plugged it into the extension lead, the connection of which was down on the floor. So there had to be a break in the wire which came apart when the lead was horizontal.

So I cut off 18" of wire at the strimmer's plug end, put on a new plug and it now works perfectly!

Thank goodness for a web site like this.

This all reads as if you're using a regular 3-pin plug on the strimmer, and an extension lead with a regular 3-pin socket lying outside, and not something like this...

Hi Ban-all-sheds (what sort of sheds?)

You are right. What is the benefit of using the 2-pin socket you show? I did see that there was no earth wire on the strimmer's lead but using a regular 3-pin plug means that I can use any extension lead that comes to hand. Is it about safety?


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