Stuck Plastic Prong in Outlet

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by InfiniteTape, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. Jun 6, 2014 #1

    InfiniteTape

    InfiniteTape

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    My wife put some tight fitting safety plugs into our kitchen island outlets (the kid could remove the normal ones without any trouble). So, not long after, one of the prongs breaks off inside an outlet while she tried to pry one of these things out. It's deep enough that my normal needle-nose can't reach.

    Now, normally I'd just toss the whole outlet. Unfortunately, these outlets are in strips that run along the sides of the island. There's no way to remove or access the backs of the strips without removing the counter, sink, etc. Even if I could get to the strip, it would be practically impossible to find a replacement strip that fits.

    Any ideas on how I might get the prong out without damaging the socket? Otherwise I may just have to use epoxy to permanently close the whole outlet.
     
  2. Jun 6, 2014 #2

    nealtw

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    Can you post a few photos.
     
  3. Jun 6, 2014 #3

    CallMeVilla

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    First, can we stop being so freaking paranoid about kids getting into receptacles? Those of us over 50 managed to survive without safety devices on outlets ... so can your kids.

    Second, you might go to Harbor Freight of HD and buy some very thin pliers. OF COURSE, you would turn off the power first but then you could extract the silly prong. Be careful not to drive it deeper.

    http://www.tmart.com/WL4-5-Inch-Carbon-Steel-Thin-Flat-Pliers-Orange-Black-Silver_p152813.html
     
  4. Jun 6, 2014 #4

    Wuzzat?

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    Another option:

    Numbered drill bits come in pretty small diameters.
    You could drill a small hole in the prong, withdraw the bit, coat it with epoxy, reinsert, let it cure and then extract the prong.
    You may need a pin vise to spin the drill bit.

    Not as long as there is a profit to be made.
     
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  5. Jun 6, 2014 #5

    havasu

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    You could try dipping a toothpick in superglue, push it into the socket until it touches the plastic, letting it adhere, then pulling both the toothpick and plastic out of the socket.
     
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  6. Jun 6, 2014 #6

    Wuzzat?

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    You kinda' want small pliers with parallel jaws.
    Tweezers have parallel jaws and their gripping power could be increased by squeezing them closed with needle nose pliers (non-parallel jaws).

    I'd first use a toothpick as a socket depth gauge to decide if the prong can be pushed too far into the socket or it will hit a backstop first. You'll be less tense if there is less riding on you doing all the right moves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  7. Jun 6, 2014 #7

    bud16415

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    Reading this thread for some reason reminds me of the kids game “Operation” and removing the funny bone. :)
     
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  8. Jun 7, 2014 #8

    Wuzzat?

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  9. Jun 9, 2014 #9

    nealtw

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    I still think you should be able to get into thing to change an outlet.
     
  10. Jun 11, 2014 #10

    JoeD

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    Power off. Take a paper clip. Straighten it out. Bend a loop in one end to fit your finger and leave the other end sticking out. On the sticking out end put a small hook. try to push the end in along the prong and hook it from the back. Pull out.
     
  11. Jun 11, 2014 #11

    Wuzzat?

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    With the tip of a small soldering iron you may be able to melt this piece enough so that it gives up the fight :banana: but don't heat the spring contacts. :hide:
     
  12. Jun 12, 2014 #12

    slownsteady

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    ....More fun if you leave the power on............................NOT!
     
  13. Jun 12, 2014 #13

    nealtw

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    InfiniteTape dose not make a habbit of follow up post when he asks a question.
     
  14. Jun 12, 2014 #14

    bud16415

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    Some threads are so much fun the OP’s problem becomes secondary. The energy expended thinking of a way to get the broken piece out of the outlet could have replaced the outlet 100 times by now.

    Shouldn’t this outlet be a GFCI anyway or on a GFCI circuit? Is that level of protection adequate for crumb crunchers or do you still need these safety covers?

    If he ever returns he will have a lot of ideas.
     
  15. Jun 12, 2014 #15

    nealtw

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    Nothing should be built in so it can not be repaired.
     
  16. Jun 12, 2014 #16

    InfiniteTape

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    Sorry I haven't written back. The dishwasher's on the same circuit, and the time I have to work on this during the evenings overlaps with the time to get the baby bottles run through. Hoping to get back to it Saturday.

    Lots of good suggestions here. Good question as to whether a GFCI on the circuit would provide better protection. Couldn't hurt, and given that all that wiring is in the same island as the sink and dishwasher it probably already should be GFCI.

    Yes, as I mentioned in my question, I would much rather replace the outlet. But I would have to take out the sink, disposal, and countertop to get at the power strips, then figure out if it can be fixed or how to fill in the gap in the cabinetry if it can't. The previous homeowner loved to do things like this...cute, but impossible to repair/replace and not up to code. (Overhead lights powered by lamp extension cords taped to the wallboard, vinyl flooring used as tub surround, etc.)
     
  17. Jun 12, 2014 #17

    nealtw

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    Test the platic that you have for glue that will give a strong joint (krazy glue, lock tight) put glue on one side of a peice and force it in beside the one in
    the outlet, allow to dry and pull it out. Maybe!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  18. Jun 12, 2014 #18

    Chris

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    Hang the house upside down until it falls out?
     
  19. Jun 12, 2014 #19

    nealtw

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    shake but do not stir
     
  20. Jun 14, 2014 #20

    InfiniteTape

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    I tried breaking another prong off of a safely-removed cover and gluing that to the offending prong. Unfortunately, everything I have on hand is ancient, so I'm not getting any bond.

    I've had the best luck so far with JoeD's paper clip hook approach. I can get the prong near the front of the outlet, but then it hits the back of the plastic outlet front, as the paper clip also pushes the prong all the way to one side of the slot. If I slip the paper clip out at that point, the prong is right there at the exit, but the slightest touch causes it to slip back. :p

    I need to grab a fresh tube of Krazy Glue. Then I'll try to get something to bond while I've got the hook pulling the prong forward. I just need a little bit of adhesion to first pull the paper clip free, then slide everything else out....I hope.
     

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