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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.

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

  1. Danny on March 30th, 2009 4:57 pm

    I want to and a heating unit to my wall in the basement heating unit is about 1500 watts and it has a thermostat its actually a blower unit and i am using a 20 amp breaker. the main question, is there suppose to be room enough in between the 2×3 stud and wall. the unit is about 4 inchs thick and the spacing its about 5 inches.

  2. Fred Irons on September 13th, 2009 8:51 pm

    Can I change the ends of an 220 Extension cord from a 4 prong to a three prong dryer male and female ends??? My dryer and wall plug are three prong
    if so how…

  3. samuel lee on July 22nd, 2010 4:59 pm

    We moved in last night. When I tried to plug in my dryer the outlet is different than my dryer cor’d. My dryer cord has 3 prongs, 240 voltages and the outlet has 3 holes, but 110 voltages. Is it possible to change the voltage of the dryer or buy new dryer? and how do I do this? I don’t want waste money