I have an expensive medical device that works perfectly and is in
pristine condition, except the insulation on the power cord has
cracked slightly just where it enters the machine (it was bent over
too sharply once when packed for travel). The thick outer insulation
is cracked about halfway around the cord to the extent that you can
just barely see the covered wires inside the cable. The cable is
permanently fixed to the machine (doesn't unplug at the machine end).
It is round, and about the diameter and quality of a computer power
I need a way to seal up this crack in a neat, workmanlike way so that
it will not continue to fray, and so it doesn't look like an
electrical hazard. But what to use? I now have a turn of plastic
electrical tape over the break, but that won't do for the long term.
I simply don't dare open the device and shorten the wire. If I were to
break the machine it's like tossing $800 down the toilet.
A little plastic tube about 1/2" long over the crack would be best,
but I can't slide a typical heat-shrink tube over the area without
cracking open the machine and removing the cable to slip on the tube
-- which I don't dare do.
There's no electrical danger from the crack, as the wires inside are
still insulated from each other and it's a tiny crack. But if we have
to take it to the hospital, as occasionally happens, I'm concerned
that someone will balk at letting us plug it in because of the cracked
wire. Hospitals are so rule-bound about patient medical devices that
this is a real issue.
I've thought about liquid electrical tape, but not sure that it will
be neat and tidy. And will it be thick enough to fill the crack? And
will it hold? I want a finished look as well as a bond strong enough
so it doesn't crack again easily.
Any ideas? TIA
If it is a "power cord" it must have a plug on the far end, huh?
Cut the plug off the end of the cord.
Slide a length of appropriate diameter black heat shrink tubing up the
cord to cover the place where the outer sheath is cracked.
Shrink the tubing with a heat gun, or a carefully applied gas cigarette
lighter flame if heat gun isn't available.
Attach a new plug on the other end of the cord.
My name is Jeff Wisnia and I approved this message....
Is this worth your time? I think I would replace the whole cord, and it
would probably be easier than you think. Be sure to use the proper gauge
wire. However first you should factor in the cost to drive to the hardware
store a couple of times and the fact that you can write off the cost of
repair. Also remember the implications of a mistake. An electrician may be
cheap insurance, unless you are doing this as a kind of personal challenge.
Then the rewards may be strangely worth the effort.
On Sun, 31 Oct 2004 23:48:15 GMT, "Stormin Mormon"
Well, I may have to have it done, but to have the cord replaced will
cost me at least $125.00 -- and probably more -- for a very minor
problem -- a 10 cent problem. If this problem were on a lamp, for
example, or on one of my computers, I wouldn't even tape it up. Having
medical equipment repaired by a durable medical equipment dealer is a
The device in question is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device
-- a pump that prevents collapse of the airway while sleeping. It's a
prescription item in the USA. It's mine, for my personal use, not a
device in a hospital.
The real problem is that if I have someone else fix it, I can kiss it
goodbye for a week or more while they send it off to some repair
place, which means that I can't sleep properly at night. I walk around
all day like an oxygen-starved zombie until I get it back. And it
affects my ability to drive, too. Yeah, there are ways around all this
but they all cost money and are not real convenient.
There is no conceivable liability issue involved. The machine is 6
years old, so it is not ancient. There is nothing wrong with it
otherwise. The crack came about when I packed it into a case and
travelled around for two weeks with it banging against the inside of
the case until the cord started to split right where it goes into the
machine. I have used the machine for several years since it happened
and it works fine. You can barely see the split even if you look
I have several chronic medical conditions which have occasionally
taken me to the hospital overnight. Having the machine makes the night
bearable; one less thing to worry about.
Once I spent the night in an emergency room waiting for a regular
hospital bed so I could have a coronary stent implanted in an artery
next day. They would not allow me to plug in the breathing device
because it had not been approved by their electrician (who was home
sleeping). As a result I had to stay up all night. This is not the way
you want to prepare for a guy putting a steel mesh tube in your heart
using a wire and a balloon!
I guess cutting the plug off the cord and slipping a heat shrink tube
over it is the only way, but putting a new, non-molded plug on the
cord opens yet another possible electrical issue for the hospital to
object to. I just thought there might be a clean, neat way that would
not involve this, but I guess not.
Thanks to all for the suggestions.
Oh, hell. Quit making such a big deal over nothing.
Get a loaner CPAP from your DME and send in the old one to get repaired.
Better yet, get a new CPAP and keep the old one for a spare. Six years old
means it probably has over 17,000 hours on it and it is probably worn out.
You got your money's worth if it lasted 6 years. Besides, I'll bet you got
your insurance company or Medicare to pay for 80% of the cost.
It's not me making this into a big deal. I'm just asking for a simple
electrical repair suggestion on a tiny problem.
My DME doesn't give loaners. In fact, my DME is such a money grubbing
crook that I never deal with them any more. My insurance company
doesn't pay for this device. The machine works fine. Why toss away
I've bought from Joe and from other online sources (there are cheaper
sources than Joe, in fact). But my machine isn't broken. I need a
cosmetic repair to the power cord. Apparently there isn't one, so I'll
just keep on using it as is or look elsewhere for a repair suggestion.
This is the right kind of idea, and thanks for trying to offer a
solution. Unfortunately, it's a small crack that needs to be filled
and sealed, not a break that could be glued back together. I think I
may try "liquid electrical tape" first and if that doesn't work then
try cutting off the plug and slipping on a heat seal tube. Can't hurt
I guess. Thanks again.
I don't like the heat shrink idea. Chances are the whole cord is old
and needs to be replaced to be safe. If you don't have the skills to
replace the cord yourself have someone do it for you. Life is too short to
be shortened or messed up by taking the easy way out.
I suggest that you contact the manufactuer and ask them what they recommend.
Other posters have given you some suggestions that for a power tool or lamp
might be sufficient. When it comes to medical equipment that is used in a
hospital and may come in contact with patients or staff the liability is
tremendous. You will probably need to send it back to the manufacturer to
get the cord replaced properly and relieve yourself of the liability. The
manufacturer may even fix it for free.
If you were to repair the cord yourself and an accident occured, a bunch of
lawyers would eat you for breakfast and your own insurance company may turn
their back on you.
BUT, taking an obviously "unofficially repaired" device into a hospital
is just asking for trouble. These things will have "only repaired
by qualified and certified technician" warnings ALL over them. Any
problems with it whatsoever in a place choca-bloc with lawyers on
call, and you're toast.
No "repair" described so far is invisible. Even cutting off the plug,
sliding on some heat shrink tubing, and then putting on a new plug
will be abundantly obvious it's not an official repair (because it
won't be a molded-on plug).
A hospital is likely to refuse it if they see it first, and have
a fit if they detect it later.
The guy is in between a rock and a hard place. The manufacturer _may_
charge something ridiculous to fix it. Anything the OP
does without opening the case will be "obvious".
Frankly, I wouldn't trust any glue, and electrical tape wouldn't do much
good in this situation.
In the OP's situation, I personally would open the thing and shorten
the cord, as long as I could make sure I could do the repair invisibly
(both inside and out, unit doesn't have anti-tamper indicators etc).
Here, tho, the hospital issue wouldn't arise, because they'd
supply one as necessary, so I could leave a slightly more obviously
butchered unit at home. I'm not so bad off that a few days without
one will be a problem.
Fortunately, my CPAP doesn't have a hard-wired cord. It has
a replaceable standard appliance cord (like a PC). Get cut?
Dig through my odds-and-ends box for another complete cord, no
Unfortunately, I do have the same problem with a submersible sump
pump. Given that the line HAS to be water proof, I'm going to have
to do surgery on the unit and put a brand new cord on it to avoid
problems with the cord cracking again.
I'm with Joe. Ask the manufacturer. A regular TV or appliance
tech might well be able to fix it "legally" too. I should hope
you could get it repaired for <$50.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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