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Answers to Electrical Questions About a 4-Wire Range Cord with a 3-Wire Receptacle and Installing 2 Wires Under A Screw Terminal

September 29, 2008

Question mark Jim asks:
HELP! I am moving into a home and i went to plug my stove into the wall and the outlet and cord is different…. The stove has a 4 wire grounding cord on it and the wall outlet is 3 wire non grounding. Can i change the outlet to a 4 wire grounding outlet and how?? or change the cord on the range to a 3 wire? All help is appreciated.

You need to change your range cord. I wrote an article with images and step by step instructions on How To Change a 4 Prong Electric Dryer Power Cord To a 3 Prong Electric Power Cord. Even though the article is about a dryer, the process is exactly the same for a range except you will use a larger wire size.

You may change your receptacle, but you will also need to install a new 3 conductor cable with ground from your breaker box to the receptacle so you have 4 wires. This is very time consuming and a lot more expensive than the first option.

The 3-wire receptacle is legal if it was installed before the 1999 code change. All range and dryer receptacles installed after 1999 are required to be 4-wire.


Joe Byrd asks:
Recently I was troubleshooting an outlet that had been working but went dead. The surge protector was burned out (It had a small TV and VCR on it) and I thought it might have been lightning. Then I found there was no power to the outlet and no breakers were thrown. This room has the closet with the breaker box about six feet away, so I removed the panel cover. The dead outlet was connected to a wire that was hanging beside, but not connected to, a breaker. Evidently when remodelers a few years ago provided additional outlets, they connected ‘piggy-back’ onto a breaker already feeding another circuit. In other words, there had been one breaker with two wires under the set screw feeding a load circuit somewhere and a piggy back wire feeding only one outlet. This wire evidently had just backed out of that connection.

I had not seen two wires connected to one breaker and I suspect this is not allowed. Please comment on this.

You are correct Joe, only 1 wire is permitted to be connected under a screw terminal. The reason is to prevent what just happened to you. When the connection loosens, the wires will arc and this could start a fire as well.

The correct way to do this is to splice the wires together and leave a pigtail allowing only 1 wire to be connected under the screw terminal.

Heat Recovery Ventilators Recalled by Venmar CES Inc. Due to Motors Overheating Resulting in Fires

September 28, 2008

Venmar light commercial heat recovery ventilator August 20, 2008 Venmar CES Inc., of Saskatoon, Canada recalled approximately 3,400 light commercial heat recovery ventilators. The motors in these units can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers. Venmar CES has received three reports of ventilator motors overheating, resulting in fires which caused property damage.

Light Commercial Heat Recovery Ventilators are designed to exchange air between the inside and outside of a building or home in order to provide fresh air. The recall includes the following brand names and model numbers:


Brand Model Number
Flair 150/300 Compact, 300/600 Compact
Venmar 6LC, HRV600i, 12LC, HRV1200i
PrepAir PrepAir600i, PrepAir1200i
vanEE 6LC, 12LC
Carrier 62AA-064—101XX, 62AA-127—101XX
Heil VRC 300 Compact, VRC 600 Compact
Aston HRV600i, HRV1200i
Broan HRV650, HRVl150
Venmate 600H, 1200H

The “X” in the model number can be either a letter or a number. The model number is written on a silver or black label on the outside panel.

These units were sold by heating, plumbing and building supply distributors nationwide from January 1991 through July 2007 for between $1,700 and $2,000 and manufactured in Canada.

If you have one of these units you should immediately turn off the ventilator, disconnect it from the power supply, and contact Venmar CES to schedule a technician to install a free repair. For more information, contact Venmar CES toll-free at (866) 698-6283 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET Monday through Sunday or visit the firm’s Web site at

How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 3: Terminating the Receptacle Circuits

September 22, 2008

In today’s article we are going to discuss terminating the receptacle circuits and getting everything ready for a rough electrical inspection. For anyone that missed the first two parts of this series, you may read them by clicking on the following links:
How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 1: Creating a Materials List, Installing the Boxes, Recessed Cans and Exhaust Fan
How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 2: Installing the Cables
The first thing you need to do is support all of the cables. To do this, I recommend plastic romex staples. All cables need to be supported within 12 inches of the box and every 4 1/2 feet thereafter. I like to place my staples approximately every 3 feet. You also need to ensure that there is atleat 1/2 inch of the romex sheath in the box after you strip the cables. Half inch sheath in receptacle box
Let’s get started terminating all of the receptacle circuits. These are pretty simple and they will all terminate the same. I like to mark the “home run” or the cable that goes back to the breaker box. I take an approximate 2 – 3 inch piece of the romex sleeve and mark “HR” on it and slip it over the “home run” wires. This will make life much easier in the future if you need to do any troubleshooting. Mark the home run cable
When terminating your wires, you need to set them up so they will terminate to the device (receptacle or switch) easily. This means you need to terminate the ground wires on the left side of the box, the neutral wires in the center and the hot wires on the right side of the box. When cutting your wires, you need a minimum of 6 inches of wire measured from the back of the box.
Now, six inches of wire includes both ground wires. Most people make the same mistake and make one of the ground wires long and the other one is three inches long or less. What I do is run 1 ground wire down the right side of the box, bend it horizontally along the bottom of the box to the left side and bend it out of the box. If you cut the wire flush with the edge of the box, this should be six inches. Then run the other ground wire down the back of the box and bend it so it comes out on the left side of the box and leave it long. Twist the wires together so the long wire remains for a tail to connect to the ground screw on the receptacle. After the wires are twisted you need to use either a crimp sleeve or a green wire nut. Ground wire termination
Now run the white wires down the back of the box and bend them so that they come out of the center of the box. Next run the black wires down the back of the box and bend them so that they come out of the right side of the box. Now cut the wires approximately 4 inches past the front of the box. All wires out of the receptacle box
Finally fold all of the wires into the box so that the grounds are on the left, the white wires are in the center and the black wires are on the right side. Fold the wires and push them as far back into the box as possible so the sheet rockers can’t cut the wires when they are cutting out the boxes. Made up receptacle box
Make up all of the receptacle boxes according to the instructions above. There is only one receptacle box that you will mark the wires differently. That one is the one with the “home run” in the bar area. You need need to mark the “home run” wire with “HR” and “line” and the other wire as “load”. The reason for this is, you need to install a GFCI receptacle in the bar area. You need to know which wire is the line or power supply and which is the load or power out to properly wire a GFCI receptacle.


Electrical Wire Splices Recalled by Gardner Bender

September 21, 2008

Gardner Bender package of 50 butt splices On August 20, 2008 Gardner Bender, of Milwaukee, WI recalled approximately 53,000 electrical wire splices (also known as butt splice connectors). When crimped, the splice can fail to hold the wires adequately together, posing a shock and fire hazard to consumers. Gardner Bender has received one report of a recalled butt splice failing to hold wires together. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled butt splices are used to connect electrical wires to one another. They are typically used for wiring small electrical appliances, like audio equipment, or in automotive applications. The splices are yellow insulated vinyl and measure about one inch long and ¼ inch wide. They were intended for use with 12-10 AWG wire. 12-10 is stamped on the side of the splices. Model numbers 10-126, or 21-126, and Gardner Bender are printed on the product’s packaging. They were sold in packages of 8 or 50.

Gardner Bender 12-10 butt splice

These units were sold at electrical distributors, hardware stores, and home centers nationwide from June 2005 through April 2008 for between $1 and $5 and manufactured in the United States.

Consumers should immediately stop using products that contain the recalled butt splices and contact the firm for free replacement splices. For additional information, contact Gardner Bender at (800) 624-4320 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at

Answers to Electrical Questions About Troubleshooting a GFCI Receptacle and Upgrading an Electric Service

September 20, 2008

Question mark Don Allen asks:
I installed a koi pond in my yard and had a electrician run a wire to a GFI box on a pole which supplies power to my pump for the waterfall and pond circulation. Recently during two thunderstorms the GFI has tripped at the post outside but not at the breaker in the inside box. The lightning from the storms was not all that bad but it still causes my pump to stop running to circulate the water. Could it be that the GFI receptacle is not properly grounded at the receptacle outside? Really has me stumped. Appreciate any thoughts or help you may share.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Don Allen

If an electrician installed the receptacle, then it is probably properly grounded. I’m willing to bet that the problem is a ground fault caused by the lightning or static electricity from the lightning strikes. If it was a ground fault, then the GFCI is working properly. It is designed to trip when it senses a ground fault. A circuit breaker is used for overcurrent protection.


Lawson Williams asks:
Question: I have a 60amps and need to upgrade to 150amps it’s a single family house. What do i need to do? Where the existing fuse box is located, i do not have space for a 30/40 breaker box. In fact the available space is 16×22. and on the outside there is a meter socket and switch box (fuse box).

The first thing that you need to do is check with your local building codes department to see if you can legally upgrade your own electric service. Most areas do not allow homeowners to upgrade their electric services. You may need to hire a licensed or qualified electrician to complete this project.

If you are able to do this work, then you need to check with you local utility company to see what their specifications are. If you have an overhead electric service, your utility company may make you change to an underground service. You need to know this before you get started.

As for what you need to do to upgrade your electric service from 60 amps to 150 amps, you need to change the meter box outside, increase the wire size between the meter box and the breaker box and upgrade your breaker box. If you have an overhead service, then you need to increase the conduit and wire size. If you need to change to an underground service, then the utility company may require you to install the underground wire all the way to the power pole.

You also need to check your grounding and ensure it is in place and sized properly.

As for the space limitation for the new breaker box. There may be additional framing in the wall to accommodate for the smaller breaker box which may be easily removed. If not, then leave the old breaker box in place, remove all of the “guts” and turn it into a junction box. Choose a new location for your breaker box and install the needed cables between the 2 boxes to re-feed all of your existing circuits.

This is not a project that I recommend for a DIYer. This is definitely an advanced electrical wiring project. I highly recommend hiring a licensed or qualified electrician for this project.

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