A-Z Guide to Home Electrical Improvement Projects

The A-Z Guide to Home Electrical Improvement Projects

Home improvement projects can be fun, frustrating, exasperating, and even educational. But if you aren’t completely sure of what you’re doing, they can also be dangerous. One area where this rings especially true is do-it-yourself projects that require electrical knowledge.

Not taking the proper precautions can result in severe electric shock or even death. That’s why it’s important that you take the necessary steps to ensure your safety. While it’s possible to complete many electrical home improvement projects to save yourself some money, there’s nothing worth doing if it jeopardizes your health.

We’re going to walk you through how to perform many home electrical improvement projects, but if you’re ever not sure about what you’re doing, take a moment and call a professional.

Before you jump right into an electrical home improvement project, let’s take a moment and visit what you should know and do beforehand.

Home Electrical Improvement Projects

What You Should Know

There are some things you’ll want to address before you begin your project. Not everything on this list will apply to your or your project, but you still may want to take a moment and consider each item before moving forward.

Know Your Home System

Before messing around with the wiring in your home, you’ll want to have an idea as to what type of system you’re working with. For example, does your home have a fuse box or a panel breaker? Most modern homes will have breakers, but it never hurts to confirm.

Another question to ask is, how are the appliances and rooms in your home wired? Most of this information can be determined by performing some simple tests or having an inspection done by an electrician.

Know the Basics

Locate the electrical codes and information about your region and learn as much as you can. You’ll get an idea of the limits and loads allowed, plus you should educate yourself as much as possible about the basics of wiring and electricity.

Know Where You’ve Been

This trick will help you save time and hassle in the future any time you need to do some electrical work. As you do things, label everything: label wires, switches, breakers, and anything else you may need to know in the future.

Don’t rely on your memory to have this information in the future, and a sketch may be difficult to interpret at a later date. Just find some useful labels and slap them on everything you do, that way you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what something is or what it does.

Know Your Next Step

Whether you’re working on an appliance, an outlet, or a fixture, it’s always important to thoroughly read through the instructions so you know what exactly to expect. Be sure to find a DIY manual for electrical work so you can efficiently and safely finish your project.

Know that You’re Safe

Any time you’re working on a home electrical project, check and double-check that the main power on your breaker or fuse box is turned off. Electricity is dangerous, so don’t take chances. Confirm that everything is off.

If you need to, use floodlights or battery-powered flashlights to light-up the area in which you’re working.

power home safety

Know the Conditions of Your Materials

If the purpose of doing an electrical home improvement project is to save some money, you might be tempted to do the same using old materials. While there are ways to reuse materials at times, there’s no way to be certain of their quality unless you picked out the materials.

For the most part, electrical supplies aren’t that expensive, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s a good idea to begin your project with new, unused materials.

Know Your Project Needs

Before you start disconnecting wires, removing outlets, or pulling out fixtures, take a moment to determine what exactly you’ll need to complete your project. Consider everything you can think of. How will it be used? What will it require? Are there any potential problems that could arise?

Taking the time to think about these things beforehand can prevent a lot of wasted time and money on your part.

Know Your Local Requirements

There are many cities that require permits when you are doing certain types of electrical work within your home. Even though it may result in additional costs for your project, you’ll be protected in the future if you acquire the necessary documentation. Plus, your insurance company will be very happy you did so.

Finally, always take your time and be careful when you decide to take on a home electrical improvement project. Even the most skilled electricians take the necessary precautions when working. Plan ahead, do as much research and possible and don’t rush.

As a result, you should experience smooth sailing throughout the entirety of your project.

Home Electrical Improvement Projects

There are plenty of home electrical improvement projects that are easy enough for you to complete. Let’s take a look at some of the more common do-it-yourself electrical projects homeowners can complete.

Switches and Lighting

It’s easy to forget that a lot of work goes into lighting when all it takes is the flip of a switch to illuminate a room in your home. We don’t think about the complete circuit that’s performed to bring electricity from your breaker box to your light fixture.

There are a variety of switches in our home, all of which control different needs and areas. Switches can control your lighting, your HVAC unit, and even your garbage disposal. Switches can even brighten or dim the lighting to give the right mood for certain situations.

While a standard residential switch will turn your lights off and on with no problem, commercial-grade switches are built to last. They’ll cost you a little more upfront but provide better contacts and. You might find them listed as “Pro” switches in the hardware store.

If you live in an older home and you’ve ever heard a snap or crackle when you flip a switch, this is a good indicator that your switch is defective. When contacts on a switch get worn, they begin to sizzle and pop, which means its time to replace your switch.

Of course, this is a potential hazard in your home, so you want to be sure that you get power to the switch cut off as soon as possible. As the contact areas erode, heat and resistance begin to build up, which could lead to an electrical fire. That’s why it’s critical to replace your switch if you run into this type of problem.

types of switches

Single-pole Switches

The most common and basic types of switches are called single-pole switches. These switches simply turn a single light off and on. You can find these switches in a variety of colors and designs and are typically rated for 15 or 20 amps.

A single-pole switch will turn your light off and on from one place. These switches have two brass terminals. These are used for the “hot” connections, while the green screw is used for the ground. On the toggle handle, you’ll often see labels to indicate when the switch is on or off.

Three-way Switches

Another type of switch you may find in your home is a three-way switch. These are switches that control lights from various different places. If you want to get really fancy, you can add a four-way switch so you can turn your lights on and off from three different locations.

On a three-way switch, you’ll see a green screw, a dark colored screw, and two brass screws. With a three-way switch, the brass screw is for the traveler wire, while the dark-colored screw is for the switch leg or hot wire. The ground connection goes to the green screw.

However, where the single-pole switch has the toggle labeled, a three-way switch won’t. This is because when the toggle is in the up position, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the lights are on. This depends entirely on whether there’s another switch turned on or off.

You’ll commonly find a use for a three-way switch in places like hallways, larger rooms, or stairwells. Most often they’re found in places that have more than one entrance, like living rooms.

Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches are usually found in either a rotary knob or a slide that moves up and down. These switches dim or brighten the lights in the room for which they are wired. Some of the rotary switches have the ability to turn the lights completely on and off by pressing them knob toward the wall.

Turning the knob to the left or right makes the lights get brighter or dimmer, while the same is true of moving the slider up and down. This is a great switch if you want to use accent lighting in a certain room.

Dimmer switches work well with many different types of bulbs, including incandescent lights, so you don’t need to worry about finding specialized bulbs. There are also dimmer switches for ceiling fans and other fixtures, so you have options available to you if you want them.

Smart Switches and Bulbs

There are also options to go with smart switches and bulbs if you are interested in automating some of the aspects of your home. Smart switches have the ability to control the lights in your room from your smartphone. They wire the same way regular switches do but offer additional functionality to your home lighting system.

There are also smart bulbs available, which offer more granular control than smart switches. With these bulbs, you can control the color of the light emitted in a room, along with turning them off and on from anywhere via a smartphone app.

Installing a Switch

If you’re considering upgrading or replacing an already existing switch, the good news is that it’s an inexpensive and simple home electrical improvement project. Most importantly, it’s critical to understand how the switch itself is wired.

When you flip that switch on, electricity from the breaker box goes through the hot wire, through the neutral wire, then to the ground. This delivers the power you need to turn on the light in the room.

For the majority of light switches, you’ll find two black wires connected to two screws on the switch. White wires are typically connected to one another with a wire nut, but not to the switch itself.

Ground wires are connected to the ground screw, which is on the switch as well. But before you get started disconnecting and attaching wires, let’s walk through how to replace a switch.

installing single pole switch

1. Cut the Power

The first thing you want to do is head to the breaker or fuse box and turn off the power for the switch. Double-check that it’s actually off by using a voltage tester. This will help you ensure the wires are not charged and keep you from getting hurt.

2. Take Off the Switchplate and Remove the Switch

Remove the switch cover using a flathead screwdriver. You’ll find screws on the top and bottom of the switchplate. Once that’s done, grab your Phillip’s head screwdriver to begin the process of removing the switch itself from the box.

3. Disconnect Wires from the Old Switch

Use your Phillip’s head screwdriver to slowly loosen the screws on the side of the switch. These screws are holding the wires in place. Once you have the screws loose enough, disconnect the wires.

Pay close attention to where the wires are attached. Label them if necessary, since you’ll be putting them in the same place on the new switch. If you need to, use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to bend the wire straight.

Be sure you keep the wires apart from one another. Move them to opposite corners if necessary. If there is a ground wire connected to the switch, make sure you remove it last.

4. Connect the New Switch

You should have three wires that need to be connected to the new switch. There will be one white wire, one black wire, and a ground wire that could be either be green or bare copper. Check out the wires and re-strip or trim them if need be.

Connect the wires to your new light switch, in the same manner, they were connected to the old one. Create a hook at the end of the wire with your need-nose pliers and wrap it around the corresponding screw.

Tighten down the screw until it is snug around the wire. You can pull on it gently to ensure the wire is held in place and isn’t going to move. This part of the process can be frustrating, but if you’re patient, you’ll have it done in no time.

5. Connect Switch and Screw-In Cover Plate

After you have the wires connected, gently place any excess wiring into the box behind the switch. Don’t rush this part of the process, as you don’t want to inadvertently break any wires.

Place the cover plate over the switch and tighten down the screws until they are snug against it. Don’t tighten down too tight as doing so could break the switch. Once everything is in place, head to the breaker box and flip it back on.

Now you can check that everything worked the way it’s supposed to by flipping that light switch.


If you’re not impressed by light switches, then maybe you’re the type of person more interested in outlets. Also called receptacles, these outlets are strung throughout your home in several areas and locations. They could be near the floor, near your counter, or even in the ceiling.

These outlets are the delivery point used to power many of the appliances you use on a daily basis. Things like your coffee maker, toaster, television, washer, dryer, stove, gaming console, and much, much more. Of course, each type of outlet in your home is designed for specific voltages and uses.

electrical outlet

Spacing Outlets in your Home

You may notice that your outlets are spaced certain distances throughout your home. Code requires that outlets be no more than 12 feet apart so that your appliances, televisions, and other electrical devices aren’t more than 6 feet from an outlet.

Of course, you can put outlets closer than that if you want to, but it’s not required. If you have an area in your home that may be subject to heavy use, you may want to consider shorting outlet spacing so one receptacle isn’t carrying the entire load.

There are a few exceptions to the 12-foot rule, although you don’t have to adhere to them. If a wall is less than 24-inches wide, you don’t have to place an outlet on it. Additionally, hallways that exceed 10 feet have to have one outlet at the very least, usually placed in the middle of the hall.

Bathroom and Kitchen Outlet Spacing

The kitchen and bathroom walls also have exceptions. For example, in a bathroom, you need an outlet within three feet of the edge of your sink. Usually, these are found above the counter, but there is flexibility if this simply isn’t possible.

Comparatively, kitchen outlets shouldn’t be any further than 48-inches away from one another. That means your appliances won’t be more than two feet away from the nearest outlet. Also keep in mind that if a countertop if more than 12-inches wide, you’ll need an outlet on the wall behind it.

Outlets need to be below 20 inches on the countertop, but of course, there are exceptions for those where the height rule isn’t reasonable or feasible.

So what kind of outlets should you use? There are actually several options, so let’s take a look at some of the more popular ones.

15A and 20A Outlets

Most of the outlets you find in your home are rated at 15 amps, indicated by 15A. This indicates that the circuit connected to the outlet can handle an electric load of up to 15 amps. Every device you plug into an outlet has a rating for amperage.

For example, your smartphone will charge at roughly 1 amp while your larger appliances, like microwaves, usually require 5 amps or more to work. But what do you do if you have devices that require more than 15 amps on a single outlet?

Fortunately, there’s a solution. 20 amp outlets let you support another 5 amps if you need it. These are typically found in areas where power-hungry appliances and tools reside. Places like your kitchen, garage, and laundry room are more than likely using 20 amp outlets.

An easy way to tell if your outlet is 20 amp or not is to look for a small notch into the opening of the left-side prong. If you see one, then your outlet will support 20 amps on its circuit.

However, keep in mind that you can’t just put a 20 amp outlet where a 15 amp currently exists. 20 amp circuits require different wiring that’s able to carry more current. The opposite, however, can be done. If you want to put a 15 amp outlet where a 20 amp resides, you can do so.

Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to power all the devices you could before.

GFCI Outlets

If your house has a bathroom or kitchen, then there’s a good chance it has a GFCI outlet. GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, is an outlet meant to immediately cut power to the outlet is a short or ground fault is detected.

Typically, an electrical flow comes out via the hot wire and then completes its circuit through the neutral. But if the outlet detects the electricity flowing beyond that point, it will automatically trip.

Why is this important? Let’s say you or someone you love is blow-drying their hair in the bathroom. They just got out of the shower, so there’s a little water around their feet. A short in the hairdryer could result in the current passing through the person to the water on the ground, which basically electrocutes them.

With a GFCI outlet, the power is killed before the electricity is able to travel to the hairdryer.

While these outlets are a little more expensive than the other outlets in your home, they are required in areas of your home like your bathroom and kitchen. It’s easy to see that the extra money is worth it though since you and your loved ones are protected in potentially dangerous areas.

GFCI Outlets

USB Outlets

I’m particularly fond of USB outlets as I’ve installed a few myself. They’ve very handy to have and it would be nice if houses began integrating them as standard options. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality yet.

The good news is that you can install them on your own, wherever you need them most. There are plenty of choices for USB outlets, but the ones I like most has two USB ports placed in between a pair of normal outlets.

You can also find ones that simply replace the outlet receptacles with four USB ports, so you can charge up to four devices at once. Both are great options, so you really can’t go wrong here.

You may prefer to use a wall charger, in which case, there’s no need to have a USB outlet. But if you don’t want a big, intrusive charger blocking other others, a USB outlet can come in handy when your devices need to be charged.

Smart Outlets

I’ve touched on smart switches and bulbs, so it only makes sense to discuss smart outlets as well. These are just normal outlets that you can control with your smartphone. That means you have the ability to turn your outlet off and on no matter where you are by using your smartphone.

Some smart outlets can work as standalone devices, while others use a hug to create a larger smart home environment. If you plan on using other smart devices, you might want to find a hub that supports everything you want. Otherwise, a standalone outlet will work just fine.

Installing an Outlet

Installing a plug-in outlet is a home improvement project that’s easy to do if you’re just replacing that receptacle. However, things can get a little more complicated if you need to run new wires.

Installing Outlet

For the latter, I would recommend contacting an electrician, but to replace an already existing outlet, just do the following:

1. Turn Off and Test for Electricity

Find the main service panel, also called a fuse or breaker box, in your home and switch off the breaker that you’re going to be working on. Once you do so, return to the outlet and ensure that no power is flowing to it. You can do this by using a voltage tester, confirming the power is off. Once verified, remove the old outlet.

2. Prep the Cables

The cables that come through the sides and holes of the electrical box are held in place by pressure fit clamps that are mounted within the box itself. Usually, you want the cable to extend into the box so that the wires are manageable.

Longer cables are more difficult to get back into the box once you connect the outlet. If they’re too long, you might want to trim them back with a wire cutter. If need be, use a cable ripper to remove the outer sheathing and free up the cables.

Of course, keep in mind that if you’re just replacing an outlet, a lot of this work may already be done for you. You probably won’t need to strip the wires or prep the cables.

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3. Connect Circuit Wires to Pigtail Wires

If you have multiple cables in a single box, you’ll want to pigtail them together. You’ll want to connect the end that comes from the circuit to the end going to the outlet using a wire connector.

The end going to the outlet you’ll want to bend into a hook and wrap around the terminal on the side of the outlet. Do this for the neutral wire, the black wire, which is your hot, and the ground wire.

4. Attach the Ground Wire to the Outlet

With the ground wire, form a J-shaped hook using a pair of needle-nose pliers. Trust me, it’s much easier this way. Wrap the hooked end around the ground screw of the new outlet. It should hook right around it.

Then, tighten the screw down until the head of the screw fits snugly around the hook of the wire.

5. Connect the Hot and Neutral Wires to the Outlet

In the same manner, you connected the ground wire, you can now connect the neutral and hot wires. The neutral wire goes around the silver screws. Form a hook, wrap it around the screw, then tighten it down. Do the same with the hot wire and the brass screw.

On standard outlets, you’ll see two silver screws and two brass screws. You can use the neutral wire on either of the silver screws and the hot wire on either of the brass screws. So if one is easier to access or reach, it won’t make a difference. Power will still get to the outlet.

6. Connect the Outlet to the Box

Make sure your wires are all snug by gently pulling on each one. If any are loose, take a few moments to tighten them down. Now, gently put the wires back into the box. If you have to, bend the wires to get them to fit into the box, but don’t create any sharp bends as you could damage them.

You can orient the receptacle with the ground facing up or down, but it’s safer to have it on top. This way, if a cord is partially removed from the outlet, an object is grounded before it has the opportunity to cause a short-circuit.

7. Put the Cover Plate Back

Now you can attach the cover plate and tighten it down with the screws. Turn the power back on by flipping the breaker back on. Ensure the outlet is working by plugging in one of your electronic devices.


When it comes to electrical improvement projects, many people are more intimidated by installing or fixing an appliance than replacing an outlet or light switch. The reality is that it’s not much more complicated. Let’s take a look at a few appliances you should be able to handle yourself.

Wiring a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are usually connected through either a cord that plugs directly into an outlet below the sink or through a dedicated circuit. Hard-wired disposals are connected directly to a switch, which resides in an electrical box. This box is usually on a wall close to the sink or in the cabinet under the sink.

If you discover the switch close to the sink, you’ll usually find a second box, which is a junction box, located within the cabinet. Typically, exposed wires are covered by a flexible metal material.

The plug-in connection is just what it says. It’s where the disposal cord connects directly into an outlet under the sink. A wall switch controls the outlet, which is typically found on a wall close to the sink.

garbage disposal wiring

Let’s take a closer look at how to wire garbage disposal. Before doing anything else, first, make sure the power is off. Turn off the breaker at the box, then use a voltage meter to ensure no power is getting to the unit.

1. Take the Cover off the Wiring Compartment

On the bottom of the disposal, you’ll find the metal cover for the wiring compartment. More than likely there is a screw holding it in place. Remove it using a screwdriver, then set everything aside for now.

2. Insert a Cord Clamp

Next, you want to install a cord clamp. This will go into the hole close to the wiring compartment. Be sure you put the threaded end in the hole. Then use the base plate along with the nut for the clamp to secure it in place.

More than likely you’ll need to reach through the compartment to tighten down the nut. You may want to use a flat-head screwdriver to securely tighten it down.

3. Strip Wires if Needed

The next step in the process may require you to strip some of the insulation away from the ends of the wires. You’ll want to use a wire stripper for this step. Your wire stripper should indicate which notches to use based on whether your wire is solid or stranded.

If your cords have stripped wires, you can skip this step. You also want to make sure that if there’s a ground wire with a preinstalled ring connector, you leave this intact.

4. Install the Cord

Find the cord with the stripped wires and feed the end of it through the clamp all the way into the wiring compartment. Tighten the two screws on the clamp to secure the cord. Make sure it’s held securely without deforming it.

5. Connect the Wires

Next, find the bare copper end of the ground wire and wrap it around the ground screw in a clockwise direction. You may also be able to use the ring connector for this step, if you have one.

Use a screwdriver to tighten the ground screw and secure the wire.

Connect the neutral cord to the neutral wire using a wire connector and connect the hot cord wire to the hot wire of the disposal. Make sure they’re both secure by gently pulling on them.

Most of the time, the neutral cord is white and the hot wire is black. However, sometimes your hot wire may be red instead. If that’s the case, you can connect the red wire to the black wire on the appliance cord.

6. Reattach the Compartment Cover

Tuck all of these wires back into the wiring compartment and reinstall the cover with screws. After you’ve installed the disposal and the plumbing connections are secure, you can plug it into a GFCI outlet to test it. Run water and flip the wall switch to ensure proper operation.

Installing a Dishwasher

A new dishwasher is a fun and exciting upgrade to your kitchen. If you’re simply replacing an existing dishwasher, it’s not to hard to pull the old one out and put the new one in. However, if you’re installing a dishwasher where you didn’t have one before, it can be more complicated.

dishwasher wiring

You’ll not only need to find a place to put it, but you’ll have to ensure you have a dedicated circuit running from your electrical panel to the dishwasher and that you have a place to install the drain hose.

1. Install the Electrical Circuit

Once you figure out where you’re going to put the dishwasher, drill a hole in the floor so you can install the circuit in your electrical panel. Make sure you install a 12 AWG cable, leaving around six feet of extra cable sticking up through the hole in the floor.

This excess allows you to pull your dishwasher out later to service it without breaking the cable. Tape the cable to the floor so it doesn’t fall down into the basement or crawl space while you’re working.

If you already have a circuit for the dishwasher installed, make sure you turn it off at the electrical panel while you’re working.

2. Drill Holes in the Cabinets

You need holes for the drain hose and the water line. Drill these holes at the base of the cabinet by the sink to allow easy access to existing plumbing. The drain hose hole needs to be closer to the back of the cabinet and has high as possible without hitting the sink. It should be a 1 ½ inch hole.

It should be drilled at a height higher than the dishwasher tub so that it drains properly.

The hole for the water line should be ¾ inch and drilled in a location that provides easy access to the hot water supply pipe for the kitchen sink.

3. Connect the Drain Hose

Feed the drain hose through the hole you made and attach it to the drain fitting on the sink drain. If there isn’t a dishwasher fitting, you can replace the tailpiece with a dishwasher tailpiece.

You may also be able to connect to the garbage disposal via a dishwasher nipple fitting. Just tap the center of the fitting with a screwdriver or a hammer to remove the knockout plug. Then secure the drain hose with a clamp.

4. Connect the Water Line

When you install the water line, you need to make sure it’s connected to a shutoff valve at the hot water supply under the kitchen sink. Just replace the existing shutoff valve with a dual outlet valve so you can serve both the sink and the dishwasher in one.

Feed the water line through the hole you drilled. Connect one end to the shut off valve and the other end to the dishwasher water valve according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You may need to add a brass fitting and use seal tape to prevent leaks.

5. Wire the Dishwasher

The wiring junction box on the your dishwasher is accessible in the bottom front. Remove the base plate using a screwdriver. On the metal junction box, remove the bolt.

There is a ½ inch hole for the circuit cable. Feed about six inches of cable into the clamp and tighten it down. Then install the locknut to secure the clamp.

After stripping the cable wires, connect the black lead to the black circuit wire. Then connect the two white wires and connect the copper circuit wire to the ground screw.

6. Set the Dishwasher

Slide the dishwasher into place, ensuring that the water line, drain hose, and electrical cable are still intact. Make sure the dishwasher is centered in the opening and adjust the front feet so it’s level.

The two brackets on the top of the dishwasher door should be almost touching the bottom of your countertop. Use a wood screw to secure the unit by attaching each bracket to the bottom of the counter.

The brackets shouldn’t be sticking out in front of the edge of the counter. The screws should not be so long that they show through the top of the counter.

7. Check the Installation

The last step is to check all of the connections. Turn the water on to make sure you don’t find any leaks. Turn the circuit breaker back on and start a cycle. Make sure the dishwasher fills with water, then cancel the cycle and let it drain.

Once you’re sure it’s installed correctly, reinstall the base plate on the front.

Connecting a Power Cord for an Electric Range

If you recently bought a new range, you may need to install the cord on the back side of it before you can plug it into the wall.

While older ranges have three-prong cords, newer appliances have four-prong cords, so you’ll need to make sure you install the correct outlet for your cord. The steps are very similar, but there are some differences you need to pay attention to.

Power Cord Electric Range

Three-prong cords one neutral and two hot connections and may have a ground screw. Four-prong cords have one neutral, two hots, and one ground wire that attaches to the ground screw on the appliance.

1. Remove the Cover Plate

On the back of your range, you will find a metal cover plate. This cover contains all of the wires and a wiring terminal. You may see a hole near the cover for the cord to feed through. Remove the cover using a screwdriver.

2. Alter the Ground

Pay attention to the wiring configuration you see. There should be three terminals. The center is a neutral, typically with a white wire. The one on the left is hot and may be either red or black. The one on the right is also hot and may be red or black.

You may also see a ground screw near the terminal block, but this is not present in all units. If it’s there, it will be screwed into the range’s metal case. Depending on the type of cord you need to install, you might need to alter this ground-to-neutral connection.

Four-prong cords without a connecting wire or strap on the ground screw are ready and do not need to be altered.

If you see a ground screw on a four-prong cord and it’s connected to the center terminal with a wire or strap, you need to remove the wire or strap from the center terminal.

If there is a small white wire on the ground screw, remove it and connect it to the center terminal.

On a three-prong cord, if there is no ground screw, you don’t need to alter it. It’s ready to go. If you see a ground screw connected to the center terminal with white wire or a metal strap, leave it in place. It’s also ready to go just like it is.

If there is a ground screw and it’s not connected to the center terminal, you’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making a ground-to-neutral connection.

3. Connect the Cord

For a four-prong cord, insert the end of it through the hole in the back panel. Loosen the center terminal screw and attach the white cord to it, tightening it down by securing the screw back in place.

Attach the red cord to the hot red terminal. Attach the greed cord to the ground screw. Tighten all the screws down.

For a three-prong cord, connect your center cord to the center terminal and tighten the screw. Connect your left cord to the left hot terminal, and connect the right cord to the right hot terminal.

On both the four-prong and the three-prong cords, the hot terminals are interchangeable, so don’t worry about which one you connect to. The color coding can be confusing, but it’s not important. Just make sure each terminal only has one wire connected to it.

4. Install the Strain-Relief Clamp

The strain-relief clamp secures the cord to the back of your range. It protects it and prevents damage to the wiring in case the range needs to be pulled out for maintenance later.

If it’s a two-piece clamp, it will require some assembly. There will be screws holding the clamp together. Take the two halves of the clamp apart. There should be a tab on the top half of the clamp. Insert that into the cord hole and make sure the center of the piece is over the top of the cord.

Do the same with the bottom half and make sure it’s on the bottom side of the cord. Tighten the screws back down so the clamp hugs the cord snugly. You can also squeeze the clamp together gently with pliers.

5. Reinstall the Cover Plate

Screw the cover plate back onto the backside of your range. Make sure your range controls are turned off and plug the cord into the outlet to test it. Gently slide it into place against the wall.


If you’re interested in some electrical home improvements, here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand a little bit more about them.

How do I estimate the cost of home improvements?

This is always a tough one. Home improvement projects vary a lot based on a lot of different factors. For instance, if you’re installing new outlets and switches, it may not cost much more than the price of the hardware.
However, if you’re installing an appliance, you have to consider the cost of the appliance itself, which again will vary based on what you’re looking for.
You may also want to factor in the time it will take to configure the electrical components of these installation projects. For instance, installing outlets and switches might take an hour or two each, but installing a large appliance may take all day.
If you’re doing something like installing new lighting or fixtures, it could fall somewhere in the middle.
You could spend as little as $100 on one or two new dimmer switches for your living room and bedroom, or you could spend thousands on a new kitchen appliance plus spend all day getting it up and running.
It’s often much easier to estimate the cost of each project by itself based on the cost of the hardware you need and the time it will take you to install it, rather than trying to estimate how much it will cost to do all of the projects you want to do in a single room.

How much does it cost to fix electrical in a house?

Many people find that once they begin an electrical project, they need to update the wiring. This is more commonly the case when the house is very old. Electrical codes change over time, so if you know you need some updates, it may be something you’ll want to factor into your renovation cost.
If you’re not an experienced electrician, it’s best to hire someone to bring your house up to code rather than trying to tackle it yourself. It generally costs between $2 and $3 per square foot, so it’s not a cheap undertaking.
It all depends on access to the wiring, your electrician’s hourly rate, and the cost of other materials.
electrician project cost

Can I rewire my house myself?

It’s not necessarily against the law to rewire your house yourself, and it certainly does save money upfront. However, you may find that if you’re not experienced, it will take a long time. And if you make a mistake, it will cost you more money on the back end.
Plus, you may find that it costs you even more money when you find out that you didn’t actually do it to code and it needs to be updated again.
You may be able to enter into an agreement with an electrician to have them double-check your work as you go. Keep in mind that they want to make money and will push for doing the job themselves, so you may not find anyone to help you.

What electrical work requires a license?

There’s nothing to say that you can’t do a lot of the electrical work in your house yourself. However, above and beyond the most basic repairs or improvements, you may need a permit to do it.
These regulations vary by state, but there are some states that impose fines for doing your own electrical work without a license or a permit, so make sure you do the necessary research before you begin.


Installing improvements in your home can help you make some big changes without a lot of work. Even the bigger, more complicated projects can be done on your own as long as you know-how.

The most important thing is that you take the necessary precautions to make sure you’re protecting yourself and your home from a mistake. If at any time, you don’t feel comfortable with how your project is going, hire a professional.

If you do the research, take your time, and do it right, you’ll find that you’ll learn a lot, feel accomplished, and be really happy with your new electrical improvements.


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