Request for block heater install

Discussion in 'DIY Instructables' started by Fatboy Walrus, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    Hey friends. Winter is pretty much here, and if it is a repeat of last year this is something that will be useful to have. Also did not see a DIY in this thread.

    I unfortunately do not have a heated garage at home. It scares me a little to start up when temps are below 0. Decided to go pick up an OEM block heater from a local dealer since neither the OBS(2.2) or Saabaru(2.0) came with one factory.

    Looking for a little advice on the matter. If none is available, I may just DIMS and do a little write up.

    Those of you that do have them. Is it totally sweet? Was it a major PITA to install? Will I need to drop all the green stuff? Will I then need to add more and burp?

    Thanks!
     
  2. AspitFire
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    AspitFire Well-Known Member

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    super easy install. I think the part comes with install instructions. Drain your coolant, remove the coolant block plug that is on the drivers side. Replace it with the block heater and gasket. Refill with coolant and route your plug.
     
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  3. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    Seems easy enough. I read that a 14mm allen is needed to remove the plug, and an XXmm is needed for install? Must the coolant be drained?
    I think I'll pick up a spare bucket from menards while I am at it!
     
  4. CarpalTomO
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    CarpalTomO Well-Known Member

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    Coolant must be drained. I've installed a couple engine block heaters on Subarus and quite a few on Hondas. you will need a 14mm Allen as well as a good breaker bar to remove the plug, don't use an impact! My instructions stated that a 27mm wrench, or deep socket will be needed for installing the heater element. You might have enough room for the socket on the NA car but not on the turbo one, use the 27mm wrench.
     
  5. blueroo
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    blueroo Member

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    Is there any lit advocating for block heaters? It would seem most modern engines, aside from diesels handle cold pretty well.... or is it a forced induction vs NA argument in this case?

    It would almost seem advantageous to have the car turn on / off at regular intervals, automagically.
     
  6. CarpalTomO
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    CarpalTomO Well-Known Member

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    I used to own a 94 Honda Civic VX (the big gas mileage model) and in winter time, not having a block heater cost me mileage and would add cold-start wear and tear on the engine. With the block heater installed and ran on a timer to start two hours before I left in the morning, it would give me easier starts in the morning and less wear and tear on the engine. The time saved getting into closed loop operation and getting to operating temps faster kept my winter mileage up close to the summer mileage (55mpg).

    The cost of electricity from a 400 watt heater for two hours was far cheaper than the extra cost of gas consumed during cold-start and running in open loop until operating temps were reached, in fact, I did all the calcs with that civic and heater and the heater paid for itself in the first 6 months of using it. I would use the block heater anytime temps were below 40*F. The same benefits will be for any engine, whether it be NA or turbo, diesel, or gasoline.

    Most people that install a block heater will just notice that it's nice to have a warmed up car faster though. They might not notice that the engine will last longer and your oil will not be fouled up as easily by the rich cold-starts.
     
  7. mike4king
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    mike4king Member

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    I'm very interested in this idea. There are often situations where I don't have time to let my car warm up at all. I have to cold/hard start and go immediately, and I can't drive it super soft until it warms up. Aside from a heated garage, which isn't something I can do right now, I'd love to have my car mildly warmed up at all times when at home, just in case I need to go immediately.
     
  8. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    CarpalTomO, that is some super solid info. Thank you! Last year I had a few rough start ups where I was even scared to start the car. 40 bucks and a gallon of coolant doesn't seem like a bad price to pay to have a block heater.
     
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  9. blueroo
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    blueroo Member

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    It does seem worth it, because I hate hearing it go "whump whump whump" when it is 8*F cold in the morning. What will the block heater do if left plugged in all night? Is it a fire risk -- or is it like gutter/roof heaters that can remain in the whole time overnight.
     
  10. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    Just a waste of power to leave it on all night. I've read that 4 hours is all it needs to be plugged in.
     
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  11. joebush44
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    joebush44 Well-Known Member

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    I installed on on my old '03 WRX. That car was a very stubborn starter when cold so I used it on very cold nights/mornings. It doesn't really heat your coolant enough to get the needle off the bottom of the gauge (heat is still cold), but coolant warms up much faster. Car is easier to start. However, I wouldn't say it's a replacement for letting your engine warm up. After all, it's not directly heating your oil.

    I usually always had mine plugged in overnight when I used it. Might be a better idea to plug it into one of those nifty timers so it comes on at a certain time instead of all night?
     
  12. AspitFire
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    AspitFire Well-Known Member

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    you can plug it in all night, or you can get a cheap timer to have it turn on at a certain time. I just plug mine in all night.
     
  13. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    From what I understand they appear to be a basic heating element. Similar to what is inside an electric water heater. In about 5 minutes I am going to leave work and go pick it up from Bloomington Subaru. I will most likely throw it on a timer and let it heat for a couple hours before work. 5:00am-8:00am. I do have one of those cheap outlet timers from work. Not sure if it is a good one to use, last time I had it "set up" it dumped 5 gallons of chilled water treatment into a 300 gallon fountain :eek:. It was a pretty sad day at work.. haha
     
  14. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    Make sure it's an exterior timer. The interior ones will probably break in the cold weather.
     
  15. Fatboy Walrus
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    It will have to be indoor. I do not have an exterior outlet! Our house has an outlet in the basement with an extension cord that was routed through a glass cube window to the outside :p Stay tuned for more on "This old wacky house"

    Picked up the heater last night and a gallon of the green stuff. Was about 60 bucks. If the install goes smooth and the price of the 14mm allen is reasonable I will claim this as a success. Now I just need to find a gallon of holy water. Not sure why you can't buy the green coolant premixed.
     
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  16. AspitFire
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    AspitFire Well-Known Member

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    you can buy coolant premixed, but its a rip off. You will pay almost the same price for half as much coolant. Just pick up a gallon of .99 water from walmart.
     
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  17. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    I searched a few local stores for Peak Global with no luck. From what I understand it is compatible with the green stuff. No worries though, the coolant in the motor currently is only about 2000 miles old so I will reuse some of it and top off with the fresh jug. It was odd, when I did my timing I made 2 gallons and after filling the whole system I was still a little low. Will post back after install!
     
  18. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    Did you end up installing this yet? Interested in hearing how it went. What vehicle did you install it on?
     
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  19. Fatboy Walrus
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    Still haven't had time to do it yet... Last weekend I replaced my PS pump, it was all sorts of gooshy and ran out of time to do the block heater. The car is an 05 Saab 92x Aero. I have read a little that says removing headers may be required :eek:. Gonna pop off belly plate and take a peek first.
     
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  20. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    Not sure how different the Saabs are from Subarus, but for my car all that had to be removed was the heat shield.
     
  21. Krazylegz1485
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    Krazylegz1485 Well-Known Member

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    Curious, is it more beneficial to heat the coolant or the oil? I saw somebody make mention of the oil.

    Reason I ask is I snatched a "block" heater off our forklift at work while doing some maintenance on it. We bought it used and it sits indoors year round, so the heater is unnecessary. That and it was defunct at the time (one wire was cut). Anywho, it's basically just a heated box with a magnet on one side. It was just stuck to the side of the oil pan. I could see how it would make the engine easier to crank in the cold if the oil was a little warmer, but again, costs/gains?

    Also, while I'm here, are these ~$40 block heaters everyone speaks of a Subaru specific thing or just a universal fit one that works? Wouldn't be a bad idea here in the next few weeks.
     
  22. CarpalTomO
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    CarpalTomO Well-Known Member

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    If you could heat the oil, coolant, and battery, that is best. I have seen it where people have installed all three and used a 3-1 adapter so that all three would run at the same time. You just have to make sure that your total current draw doesn't exceed the amperage rating of your outlet and timer device.

    Heating the oil and the coolant will lessen the effect of temperature shock. The warm coolant will warm the block, and by convection, the oil pan and oil a slight amount, but you still end up introducing cold oil to the engine and oil passages if you don't use an oil heater (either magnetic pan heater or dipstick heater). So if both an oil heater and coolant heater are used, you can fire up your car and be on your merry way immediately. With only a coolant heater it's still advisable to idle the car for one minute to allow the oil to warm up a bit.

    The downfall to using a pan heater is space; if you use a magnetic heater, you lose ground clearance (placing the heater on the bottom of the pan is best since heat rises), if you use a dipstick heater, don't...they are pretty ineffective at warming your oil. There are pad style heaters that you can adhere to your oil pan and not lose ground clearance, but then you're relying on adhesive that will go through many heat cycles to hold to your (possibly) oily oil pan surface. Not the best scenario, but maybe implementing neodymium magnets to help hold the pad on would work.

    As far as the cost/gain thing goes, think of the $40 EBH from Subaru (yes, they are specific to answer that question), plus a $40 pad heater, plus a $40 battery warmer, running at 2-3 hours per morning. It would take longer than a year to recoup the cost in the form of saving gas in the morning commute, but it will also save wear and tear from cold engine startups and extend the life of the engine and turbo.
     
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  23. Fatboy Walrus
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    Should be same as any other 2 liter.

    Carpaltomo, thems are some wise words. My pa suggested just doing an external oil pan heater and calling it good. Already bought the block heater and a jug of subaru holy water. Just need to get it done already.
     
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  24. AspitFire
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    AspitFire Well-Known Member

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    Just did another one of these last week. I didnt drain the radiator this time, just pulled the coolant plug on the block, let it drain, and put in the block heater. Was maybe a 15 min install with waiting for the coolant to drain.
     
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  25. CarpalTomO
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    Good to know since I will need to swap out my EBH. Seems like I was the lucky recipient of a Monday/Wednesday/Friday unit and mine has developed a leak between the outer case and the plastic insulator of the element :(
     
  26. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    Are these things prone to leaks? Since I did my timing I have been struggling to make sure all coolant connections were leak free. It was a real stupid deal. When I did my first research on this I didn't see a point in draining the radiator but just pull the plug rather, install and add the coolant back in. Gonna try to tackle this and my VCGs this weekend if I get some free time. Sometimes I find it hard to have to gumption to work on anything after working on stuff 40 hrs a week for a living :eek:

    This car seems quite a bit different than my OBS. The obs seemed ok to start driving maybe after a minute of warming up. The saabaru I usually warm up for a few minutes then get going real slow before going normal speed. Feels like it runs harder when it has been chilled over night.

    I really should be driving the OBS during winter but it seems lately when I go cruising around the neighborhood it likes to stall out and die. Still haven't figured that one out yet and it is making me real sad!
     
  27. AspitFire
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    AspitFire Well-Known Member

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    neither of mine have leaked. I put high temp silicone (honda bond) on the threads of the plug in all the ones ive installed
     
  28. CarpalTomO
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    CarpalTomO Well-Known Member

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    I've never had an EBH leak from the threads, the supplied gasket and addition of sealant to the threads takes care of any possibilities there. The one I bought recently just happens to leak internally, which I've never seen before from an EBH so I wouldn't hesitate to get one and plan on just getting another one and installing it when I can. I'm probably going to buy a new one Friday as I'll be at Morrie's Minnetonka dropping my wrx off for the airbag recall at that time.
     
  29. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    Fuel pump issue?
     
  30. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    Fuel pump with the obs? Idk. Guess I have no idea! This weekend the block heater is gonna get done. 40 degrees outside, I'll do it in the driveway! And as far as the OBS goes. I have no idea.

    I had it parked for about 3 months with the gas gauge near E. Does gas go bad? Real bad?
     
  31. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    I picked up the part today to do this on my H6 Outback VDC. Debating not doing a flush, seems from other forums that you can quick swap it, catch the coolant in a clean container and re-add it, you'll lose less than 1 cup (at least on the H6). $34 at morries. They wanted $300 to install it though! it's 14mm hex to remove and 27mm socket to install. Instructions come with the part and are very straightforward.
     
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  32. Fatboy Walrus
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    Fatboy Walrus Member

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    I STILL haven't had time to install mine yet. As far as coolant goes, its a closed loop If it is old and dirrrrrty change it. I did my timing last August so it should still be plenty fresh. Changed my oil a couple weeks ago and looked for that plug. Looks like a big mother and I did end up buying and impact hex set. Gonna need a cheater pipe and some bourbon for this one. Just gotta "let the liquor do the thinking!"
     
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  33. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    I did mine last night, had to put the jack under the breaker bar to get that **** to turn. Need to do more pushups, lol. I would recommend doing the drain and fill, as I lost almost a half quart of coolant in the scuffle, and that was with the car only jacked up on the install side. I used permatex red high temp for the gasket sealant. no leaks so far, or air pockets according to my temp gauge.
     
  34. Fatboy Walrus
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    A jack under the breaker bar???
     
  35. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    I take it you haven't done this before? Had to do it on the diff fill plug on my last car too
     
  36. Curry
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    Curry Well-Known Member

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    All of the coolant heater ports I know of are on the horizontal plane of the engine so there is no way to cheat it with a jack. I remember mine being a PITA to get off but with some patience and a bunch of yanking on my breaker bar (vs pulling), the plug finally came loose.
     
  37. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    From the diagrams, looks like the 4cyl turbo and NA are more inline than the H6, so that would make sense. On the H6 it is right by the oil filter so there is a fair amount of room
     
  38. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    My block heater stopped working a month ago. Pretty lame since i only got a month of use out of it. Anyone else have problems with their block heater not working? I bought it from Mtka SSubaru.
     
  39. Curry
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    Curry Well-Known Member

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    Have you checked that the cable didn't get damaged or unplugged from the heater element? Did you check the extension cord/outlet? If the unit is defective, I bet Morries would replace it.
     
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  40. CarpalTomO
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    CarpalTomO Well-Known Member

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    GFI circuits can have issues with block heaters, especially if the GFI is older than 10 years. Check to see if it's tripped and reset it, even if it's not tripped, test it and reset it.
    If you just let the cord end dangle it will get worn out from flexing while driving as well, check for any cracks in the insulation just behind the plug end. if you see any cracks, replace the cord or buy a Marinco Plug http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NI38MG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 to replace the cord end and mount it into your bumper or on a bracket you make under the hood.
    OEM block heaters really only raise the temp of the coolant so many degrees over what the ambient temp is. Let's just pull a number and say 50 degrees. so if it's -20*F ambient, your block heater will only get the coolant up to 30*F.
    Remember that our aluminum engines act as a heatsink that dissipates heat while the block heater is trying to warm the coolant. It's counterproductive, but insulation blankets for engine blocks are a pain in the neck too. ;-)
     
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  41. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    I've checked the outlet a few times and it was fine. I always put the cap back on and tuck the cord away, I have ocd when it comes to dangling cords:D. I talked to morries briefly about it, and since another shop did the install, it didn't seem like something they would replace. Ill double check with them though. Just a bummer that i didn't have that during the coldest part of the season.
     
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  42. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    Coldest is yet to come, enjoy the break while it lasts. For the $300 or so they want to install it, you can buy and replace the unit several times over and reinstall the cable to test/confirm. It's unlikely to be the plug itself, the failure rate is much lower than on the cord. Go pick up another one at Morries and swap in the new cable, it should take you all of 5 minutes
     
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  43. Cotts612
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    Cotts612 Active Member

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    Didn't realize i could just get the cord! Thanks, ill give that a try!
     
  44. babiker712
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    babiker712 Well-Known Member

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    The part is a plug and cord, that the cord plugs into the block plug with an external connection. You would just need to reconnect it following the routing the old used. It comes with a diagram, should be very straightforward. Cord plus plug was $34
     
  45. pbedroske
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    pbedroske Well-Known Member

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    I used a multimeter and found my cord was damaged, and after trying a friend's cord which was also damaged I decided to fix mine. The connection in the male plug was bad, so I cut it off and spliced in a male end from another cord I had laying around. 1/2 hour later, good as new-ish.
     
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