My Dryer Cord Has Three Prongs, but the Plug Requires Four!
So: you've moved into your new home and gotten the dryer wrestled into place. The vent is hooked up, ready to go, but the cord doesn't fit the socket! Your dryer has only three prongs, but it needs four prongs to fit. What's up with that?
(If you have the opposite problem, refer to my article about how to change a four-prong dryer cord into a three-prong cord.)
In 1999, the National Electric Code began requiring all dryer receptacles to be the four-prong type for increased safety, but homes built prior to that time used the older three-prong variety. If you are moving from an older home into a newer one, you will likely find that the dryer plug won't fit.
The Best, Safest, and Cheapest Solution Is to Install a New Cord
This is not hard; most homeowners with even a few basic tools can do it. You'll need:
- Nut driver set
- Wire strippers (depending on the cord)
Removing the Old Three-Prong Cord
- Unplug the dryer before continuing. If its plug doesn't fit the socket, this step shouldn't be necessary, but of course, you should never attempt to work on an appliance that is plugged in. If the dryer is unplugged, there is no need to check for voltage at the dryer, although a non-contact voltage detector will accomplish this if you want to be extra safe.
- Pull the dryer out until you can easily work on the back.
- The cord should enter the dryer through some kind of connector to prevent strain on the screws where the wire terminates. Loosen any visible screws on this connector and remove the plate that covers the wire terminations. If the old wires are colored, note where the white wire ends.
- Unscrew the fasteners holding the wire to the terminal board and remove the wires. Pull the old cable out through the connector and save it in case you ever move into a home with a three-hole socket.
- There will be a metal strap or wire fastened to the place where the white wire was, attaching to the frame of the dryer. Remove this strap or wire, and once more, save it for possible use in years to come. Take note of where this strap is screwed to the frame; one of the wires on the new cord will go there.
Remove the Three-Prong Cord and Plug
What Is the Difference Between the White and the Green Wire?
- White wire: The National Electric Code (NEC) requires that (with a few specific exceptions) the white wire is the "neutral" one. In other words, it is the grounded circuit conductor wire expected to carry current and that it is grounded at the point of entry to the home (aka at the breaker panel) and nowhere else.
- Green wire: The NEC requires that grounds (grounded wires that only carry electricity in a fault situation, when something goes wrong) be either green or bare of insulation and that only grounds be colored green.
- Other colored wires: Any and all other colors are open for use, except that they cannot be used as either a neutral or ground. Typical 240V outlets (as a dryer is) use black and red as the "hot" wires, but any colors except white and green are legally acceptable.
How to Remember Which Wire Is Which
- Tape the wire with a label with "B," "W," and "R" written on it.
- Make a hand-drawn diagram.
- Take a photo with your phone (in today's world that might be the best!).
- Commit it to memory.
How to Install the New Four-Prong Cord
- First, make sure that you have the right new cord. A range cord (made for a cooking range) looks very similar and also has four prongs in about the same locations. The difference is that a dryer cord has two straight prongs and two bent ones, while a range cord has three straight prongs and one bent one. Make sure that your new cord will fit into the receptacle before installing it (do not plug into a "hot" receptacle; just hold it up next to the receptacle and verify the prongs will fit).
- Push the new cable through the connector. If there is no connector, one should be purchased; the most common type is a 1" romex connector that has a clamp on one side with two screws to tighten it and a large nut on the other. Remove the nut, place the threaded portion through the wall of the dryer, and replace the nut.
- With the cable through the connector, it is time to terminate (attach) the wires to the screws where the old wires came out. Black and red terminals will take the outside wires on the flat cable (or on the same colors), and the white wire (center wire on the cable) will attach to the center screw.
- The green wire will attach to the spot where the strap was removed from the frame of the dryer (see above). It does not go on the terminal board where the white wire is, but to the frame. It is a grounding wire for safety and is not used to supply electricity to the dryer. See the pictures for one location for the green wire; your dryer will likely be different, but in all cases, the green wire is to be terminated on the frame or body of the dryer and not on one of the three screws on the terminal board.
- Re-attach the cover plate over the wire terminations. It is a wise precaution to turn off the breaker before plugging the dryer in, just in case something is wired wrong. With the breaker off, plug in the dryer and turn the breaker back on.
- If the breaker immediately trips, you have put a wire in the wrong place; turn the breaker back off and find the mistake. If it doesn't trip, turn the dryer on and make sure it operates correctly.
Install the Four-Prong Cord and Plug
You have successfully changed out the old three-prong cord for a new four-prong one that will work in your new home—and it wasn't so hard, was it? Ready to tackle putting in a new light fixture or replacing an old plugin that won't hold a cord in anymore? These, too, are easy tasks that almost anyone can do.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have four wires red black white and green but where do I put the green wire? It also says ground screw on the outside is that where I put the green wire?
Answer: There should have been some kind of connection between the center wire and the frame of the dryer. A jumper wire or a metal strap that was connected to the center terminal.
That jumper connection needs removed and the new green wire goes where it was attached to the frame, or sheet metal, of the dryer. Not the terminal with the white wire - the other end of the jumper.
If your dryer had no jumper the you will need to find a screw somewhere on the frame to attach to. It won't matter much where, as long as it is not one of the red, black or white termination points.
Question: I have done this and changed it successful I thought. Now my dryer won't heat. Could my dryer not be heating because of the change in cords from 3 prongs to 4 prongs?
Answer: If it worked before and doesn't after the change the problem is likely in the change of cords. If the dryer runs but does not heat, one of the two colored wires is likely not making good contact. Check the red and black wires for proper termination and that they are firmly tightened.
Question: I bought a new dryer with a four-prong cord. My husband changed the outlet also to be a four-prong. But I don't have a green wire in my wiring. What do I use for the green ground wire? Do I use just the black, white, and red?
Answer: You don't. It is not possible to install a four prong outlet using only three wires either legally or safely. Put the three prong outlet back and install a new three-prong cord on the dryer.
As it sits, without any ground to the dryer, there is no way for a ground fault on the dryer (inadvertent connection of a hot wire to the frame of the dryer) to trip the dryer breaker. If it ever happens, the dryer will become energized, and will shock anyone touching it, as well as any form of ground (such as the washer) at the same time. It can also cause a fire.
There are very good reasons for having a ground wire in a circuit, and your new dryer is designed for just such a feature. Without it, the primary safety feature of the entire circuit is missing. Replace the three-prong outlet and follow the link in the article for instructions on installing a three prong cord onto the dryer; this will provide nearly the same safety factor as having a ground wire.
Question: I have a 240v kiln that had a 3 prong cord. I needed a 4 prong cord to match the outlet. I don't know where to put the white wire. There's no center terminal. I screwed the green to the wall of the box though. What should I do to direct the white wire in my kiln's four-prong chord?
Answer: It sounds like your kiln has no need for a neutral, unlike a dryer. If that is the case, simply put a wire nut on the white wire and leave it alone without terminating it to anything. You did well to put the green wire on the wall of the box - that's perfect.
Question: There are many 4 prong dryer cords on Amazon but which is needed for a clothes dryer - 30 amp or 50 amp?
Answer: Dryers use a 30 amp cord.
Question: When changing a 3 prong to a 4, do I attach the green wire to the white ground wire?
Answer: No. The green wire in the new cord attaches to the frame of the dryer.
Question: Does the green wire have to be attached between the dryer plug and cord?
Answer: Absolutely! That green wire is there for a purpose; do not defeat that purpose by failing to connect it.
Question: I'm converting to a four prong cord. My dryer has a "but-in" green wire (with a yellow stripe) already screwed into the frame. It is not part of the new four prong cord. Where do I attach the green wire that is part of the new four prong cord? Do I just overlap it with the existing green cord?
Answer: That's the perfect spot to put the new green ground wire - right with the existing one. Just take the screw out, add the new green wire to the existing one and put the screw back in place.
Question: I just moved into a new home. There was an existing dryer. It only has three prongs, no box, and none of the wires are color coded. What do I do with this?
Answer: Three wire cords are very seldom color-coded; instead, the center wire of the flat cable is the neutral and the outer two are both hot wires. If the wall outlet requires a four prong plug, the old dryer cord needs to be changed out to a four wire plug.
Question: I changed my 3-prong dryer to a 4-prong but my dryer will not heat what can I do?
Answer: Double check all your connections, making sure they are in the right place and tight. Check the breaker is turned on. The dryer will often have smaller wires going from the terminals to the inside of the dryer; make sure none of them fell off when putting the new cord on.
Question: I connected all the wires to change my 3-prong dryer to a 4-prong, but the extra white wire attached to the dryer itself was connected to the middle with the white wire. The green wire is on the ground bolt, red & black.outside & whites in the middle. Is this right? I ran the dryer, and it worked great, but I just want to make sure its properly connected.
Answer: You have it right!
Question: Once I installed the new cord it kept flipping a 15 amp breaker. I traded the places of the black and red cords and it no longer flipped the breaker but now it won't heat up. Any ideas?
Answer: A dryer cannot run on a 15 amp breaker. It requires a 30 amp, 240 volt supply, and that means a 2 pole breaker — one with double handles.
It sounds like you are somehow trying to run it on a 15 amp, 120 volt supply, with either the red or black not hooked to anything. In any case, all but the very smallest apartment dryers require 30 amps, and those that will run on 120 volts do not use the dryer cords described in the article, but rather just a normal plugin.
Question: My dryer has 4 prong plug and the outlet in the wall is 3 prongs. What do I do?
Answer: Change the cord to a 3 prong: https://hubpages.com/appliances/how-to-change-a-4-...
Question: Had to change from 3 prong to 4 to match an outlet in friends home. I hooked up both whites together and the red and black and green at ground location but dryer doesn’t turn on. I looked at breaker panel and the oven and dryer are tied together and the oven works, could there be an issue with the plug?
Answer: It is possible that there is a problem with the brand new plug. Unlikely, but possible. More likely is that the wiring is done improperly - perhaps one or more of the connections are loose? Is the outlet wired properly?
But there is a bigger concern in that the oven and dryer are using the same breaker. That breaker is not sized properly to provide the current required by both, and any time they are both turned you can almost guarantee the breaker will trip. In addition, most ovens require a 50 amp breaker, not the 30 the dryer needs, so the dryer does not have proper protection and the wire is likely too small for the larger breaker as well.
Question: The green wire has to be stretched really tight bending the other three wires. Is this normal?
Answer: Sometimes it works that way. One solution is to splice another piece of green wire onto the one in the cord with a wire nut, lengthening it. Other is to strip back some of the outer insulation sheath, leaving each individual wire longer. It probably isn't a good idea to leave any of them as tight as you describe, though.
Question: My dryer has the exact setup as the one shown in the photo (grounding metal piece attached where white wire attached & then to the metal frame). I was going to remove the connecting metal piece and attach green wire directly to metal grounding location, however, the green wire was not lot enough. Instead, I unscrewed the unused screw in between the red and white terminal, attached the green wire and shifted the grounding plate to this location. Is there any reason this won't work or is unsafe?
Answer: As long as there is no chance at all that the green wire or the grounding strap will come into contact with either red or white wires, it will be fine. I'm assuming that the screw you used is merely to hold the terminal block to the frame of the dryer - that there are no wires to it. Good work!
Question: Hi, I am changing my dryer plug from three prongs to four. It is pretty easy, but I accidentally sliced the old green grounding wire connected to the frame and going into the dryer. I could not find an Allen wrench and used pliers that slipped and cut it. How should I repair my dryer's grounding wire?
Answer: You will need to purchase a short length of wire and a wire nut and splice a longer piece onto the old, cut wire so that it can once more be grounded to the frame along with the new green wire. Do not just leave it hanging.
Question: How do I change a 3 wire outlet to 4 wire outlet?
Answer: You don't. There are only 3 wires in the box, while a 4 wire outlet requires 4 wires. All new wire would have to be pulled from the panel into the outlet box.
Question: I installed a 4 pronged dryer cord but it won’t turn on, what could be the problem?
Answer: It isn't plugged in (don't laugh - it's easy to forget the simple things). The breaker is turned off. One or more of the terminals aren't tight. Some of the wires are not terminated in the right place.
Question: I changed a four prong to a three prong and now it does not heat up. Is a green wire necessary?
Answer: First, you are looking at the wrong article - you need the one that describes how to change a four prong to a three prong. Read through the article located at https://dengarden.com/appliances/how-to-change-a-4...
A jumper is necessary between the center terminal (where the white wire used to go) and the frame of the dryer. This jumper is used instead of the green wire that was in the four prong cable.
Check all your connections and verify that they are terminated at the proper terminal. Outside wires to the outside terminals, center wire to the center terminal and the jumper wire from the center terminal to the frame of the dryer. A good spot to put the other end of the jumper is wherever the old green wire was on the frame.
Question: When converting from a 3 to 4 prong plug, what should I do with the yellow wire on the dryer?
Answer: If there are any wires, like your yellow one, that disappears back into the dryer somewhere, just leave them right where they are.
Question: We moved into a new home, and I’ve converted from a three prong to a four prong, and now my dryer isn’t working. I flipped the breaker to the dryer, and still nothing. Is there anything else I can do?
Answer: The only suggestion I can offer is to re-check each terminal. Is the wire in the right spot and is it tight? It is possible that there was some damage done during the move, particularly to the control boards, but do check those new wires that were installed.
Question: I have an older dryer that needs a 4 prong cord and has a 3 prong now. I disconnected the three main wires and it had a green ground connected as well. My new 4 prong has its own green wire too. What do I do with the green ground wire that is connected inside the back of dryer and won't come out?
Answer: Remove the old green wire from the three terminals and fold it into the dryer in such a way it cannot touch the terminals even with the vibration of a dryer. Connect the new green wire to the frame or body of the dryer somewhere; an ideal place is where the other end of that green wire goes if you can reach it. If not, anywhere on the body or frame of the dryer.
Question: What should I do when I connect my 4-prong dryer to my outlet and it sparks?
Answer: Re-check all your connections to make sure there isn't a wire "hair" that is out of place, and that all the wires are in the proper place. If it still does not work, call in an electrician to install the new wire.
Question: I'm changing my 3 prong dryer over to a 4 prong. I have a green wire instead of a white wire on the outside of the dryer with the 3 prong. Do I move it over when I switch it to a 4 prong?
Answer: No, just leave it where it is.
Question: I have the 4 prong whip hooked up right but still no power. Why is there no power?
Answer: Did you check that the breaker is turned on and the new cable plugged in? Using a meter, is there power at the connections? If all of these is OK then either the dryer is bad or it is hooked up wrong.
Question: I changed out a four-prong dryer cord for a three. I matched all the wires. It didn’t work. How should I troubleshoot my dryer's malfunction?
Answer: Check all your connections for tightness. Check that wires are in the proper place. Check that none of the internal wires fell off the terminals and did not get put back. Check that the breaker is turned on and the dryer plugged in.
Question: The red wire on a 4 prong dryer plug has been cut. How do I wire it now?
Answer: Using a razor knife (box cutter) carefully strip back some of the outer sheath and expose more red wire, perhaps 8-10". Cut around the wire, taking care not to go too deep, and see if the sheath will pull off. If not, go a little deeper, or slit it lengthwise from your first cut to the end of the wire. You may have to cut off the other wires to match the lengths so as not to have far too much wire at the terminations - that will depend on what the physical termination points are like and how much room there is. You will lose the factory crimped ends but can still terminate them on the screws. Just be very careful not to leave a strand or two floating free where they might touch a different terminal that where they are supposed to go.
Question: We have a new portable dryer with a three-prong cord, but it is not the same as the angled three-prong outlets in our apartment. Is it safe to change outlets? Do we need to tell our landlord? Is it a fire hazard?
Answer: You probably have a dryer that uses normal, 120V household current. If it will plug into a normal outlet, do so. If one of the regular prongs is turned sideways you may have to use one of the outlets in the kitchen, though - those should be on a 20 amp circuit and have the sideways hole for that prong (it's actually kind of a "T" shaped to accept both the normal 15 amp plug and the 20 amp plug).
There should be a sticker somewhere on the dryer saying what voltage and amperage it requires. If it's 110V or 120V then ordinary house then it plugs into a normal outlet.
© 2011 Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on November 25, 2019:
Any wires going back into the dryer should remain right where they are.
Michelle O'Rourke on November 25, 2019:
Where does the green & yellow striped wire go? This wire is part of the dryer it self, where doese that 1 one changing from a 3 prong to a 4 prong plu?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 29, 2019:
I presume that one of those goes back into the dryer - this is pretty common. Leave it where it is, and put the new white wire with it.
Felipe Ramirez on October 29, 2019:
I have 2 white wires connected together that goes to the neutral terminal what do I do
Prasanna on July 07, 2019:
Thanks for the step by step instructions. My dryer had a diagram instruction on its back which helped too. This was really easy.
Thanks to your article, I made the right decision to change the cord instead of buying an adapter.
Tony Holland on May 04, 2019:
I changed the dryer cord from a 3 prong to a 4 prong. The dryer has a green ground wire connected to a plate on the dryer. The new 4 prong has a naked ground, along with the white, the red and the black. Can I connect that naked ground to the same terminal as the white, or should I connect it to the green existing ground?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 17, 2018:
Your 4 wire dryer cord will not plug into that. There are quite a few adapters that enable a 220 volt device to operate off of a dryer outlet, but the design of the plug will not accept a dryer plug. The one you link to is one such - an electric car plug is not the same as a dryer plug.
Although there are some adapters out there that are designed for dryers, I do not recommend them. None that I've seen carry the UL label as they do not conform to US safety protocols. Some, such as the one you reference are just flat out wrong - it will allow a 50 amp car charger to plug into a 30 amp outlet which will blow the breaker and possibly start a fire.
Changing the cord is not a difficult task and my recommendation is that you do that rather than use an adapter that may be unsafe.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 16, 2018:
Sounds like you've covered your bases very well, and there is a problem outside of the 3 wire/4 wire changeover. Good luck!
Tyler West on July 16, 2018:
Thank you for your quick reply. As far as I can see, everything is hooked up properly. There were no wires on the terminal board, but I believe that they are hooked up behind the terminal board that the user doesn't have access to without removing the terminal board itself. For the bonding strap, it is internally connected somewhere in the dryer (I can only see about two inches of it before it disappears), and it is securely fastened to the center terminal with the neutral wire. The wiring diagram on the dryer near the opening displays that this is how it is supposed to be if you have the four wire setup, but with three wires, it is supposed to go to the spot where the green grounding wire is now. The terminal board itself is secure, and all of the terminal lugs are fastened to the terminal board with the hardware that was already on the dryer. I am an aircraft electrician by trade, and we use terminal boards all of the time, so I am always careful to make sure that everything is secure, and that none of the terminal lugs will touch one another. Everything on the dryer is operating properly except for the heat, so I can only assume that it is going to be internal (more than likely the heating element). I have a service call scheduled for Wednesday, so I will report back what the technician says. Again, thank you for your advice!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 16, 2018:
No, it doesn't make any difference if the black and red wires are switched, and if the control panel is working then the neutral is also correct.
You have 220 volts at the terminal board, but is it possible that one of the internal wires slipped off the terminal while working on it? I would expect the motor to require 220 volts, but some dryers may use a 120 volt motor, which might still run if just one of the black and red wires isn't connected into the dryer.
Other than that about all that's left is the heating element, just as you say.
I am a little concerned about that ground strap that is apparently left on the center terminal, just floating around, though. If there is any chance it could contact either the black or red wires, or even the frame of the dryer, it needs removed. You'll want to save it for future use when you move again and need the 3 wire cord back on, but it's usually better to leave it where the green wire attaches to the dryer - that's usually out of the way and can't cause any harm if it moves a little.
Tyler West on July 16, 2018:
Hello Dan. I recently replaced my three prong with a four prong due to moving into a newer house. I followed everything step by step on both the dryer and the cord. The dryer called for the bonding strap going to the grounding point on the case of the dryer to be hooked up with the neutral on the middle terminal. The green ground wire went to the spot where the bonding strap was removed on the case. The white went to the center terminal with the bonding strap attached with it. The red and the black went on the outside terminals labeled L1 and L2. Now I am getting no heat in the dryer, but it does spin and operate like it should. I have read that if the dryer does not get the proper 220 volts from the plug that it will not heat. I have verified that the dryer is getting 220 from the plug at the terminal board, so I don't see that being an issue unless for some reason the red and black terminals need to be flipped. I don't believe that it would make much of a difference as it is all single phase, and the placement of either line voltage wire should just supply 110 to their respective terminals. My only thought now is that the heating element has gone out. It went out less than six months ago, and it is still under warranty so that is not a major concern if it needs to be replaced again. As for the wiring, I am just checking to see if you would have any suggestions with how to approach this if the wiring happens to be hooked up wrong. Thank you for your time!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 14, 2018:
I'm not sure whether you are in the wall outlet or the dryer, but either way the bare ground goes ONLY to the ground, not to the neutral at all.
In the dryer the ground will not touch the center, neutral, termination at all; it just goes to the ground screw on the frame of the dryer. If there is a jumper from neutral to the ground inside the dryer, remove it.
Only when a 3 wire cord is used does the neutral and ground come together, and then only between the neutral termination and the ground on the dryer as there is no ground wire in the cord.
TC SWAN on June 14, 2018:
Great , but now I'm to the recepticle and the 4 120/240 wires coming in . The red and Black go to the Power screws, the White to Nuetral and the bare goes to the white and not to ground also ? When it was hooked up to a 3 wire , it went into the White and looped around to a screw on the box. I understand it now should be just inserted into the screw ?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 27, 2018:
@HB: Those screws must be snug. Leaving one loose can build heat at the connection and could even start a fire. If you can't tighten it to the point that you cannot tug the wire out, can you use a nut and screw instead of the threaded connection?
@Linda: If the stackable is 240 volts you cannot use the GFCI or the wire that is in it. And no, there will never, ever be a jumper between ground and red; that will cause a complete short circuit and blow the breaker.
linda on May 26, 2018:
I have a gfci in garage. I have a frigadaire stackable electric washer dryer that is 240. What type of plug to use and How do i change out the plug to use in gfci that is 120. I beleive i have to have a jumper between ground and red??
HB on May 23, 2018:
I changed from the 3 to the 4 prong correctly. I noticed the screww holding the 2 middle white cords is not lock tight, but still holding quite well. It seems to be partly stripped. Will this be an issue?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 06, 2017:
I'm going to assume that you have connected the white wire to the frame of the dryer, where the old white wire was. I'm also going to assume that there is only two terminations for the hot wires; that the third, center, terminal isn't there. If that is the case then I can offer nothing more.
But if there IS a third terminal, put the white wire there and the new ground to the frame of the dryer. If there are any white wires internal to the dryer at that location, move them to the center terminal.
Melissa on December 06, 2017:
Hello! I have a newer model dryer that came with a white wire attached to where the ground wire is supposed to connect to instead of the metal strap that you have in this tutorial. I referred to another video that had me place that white wire with the other white wire coming from the cord. Everything looks just like in the video I watched, but now I have no heat to my dryer. This is a rental home and the owner told me that the dryer that he had previously in here worked. Could I have done something wrong or is it probable that there is something wrong on the outlet end?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 02, 2017:
The white wire on the compressor is a hot line. If that type of cord was available with 2 black wires the white would be black instead.
Treat the white wire on the compressor as if it were black. It is not a neutral and should not go to the white wire on the generator, but to a black (or red) one.
Joe on December 02, 2017:
I bought a husky compressor that has 3 prong and want to hook up to my generator that has the 4 prong outlet. Have the green and white hooked up but online schematic shows 2 black numbered 1 and 2. And only 1 black on compressor. Does it matter which one i use? Compressor shows 240v and 15A and generator is 240v and 30A.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 29, 2017:
No. Disconnect it from where the white wire goes and bend or move it so that there is no chance of contacting any of those wire terminals. It can remain attached to the frame - that's a good idea to do in case it ever needs the 3 wire back on.
Dawn on October 29, 2017:
Trying to replace the dryer cord and concerned about the
"strap" that is currently on the dryer. Can I just leave that in place? I ask because it connects to the frame of the dryer, then behind the slot where the white wire should go.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 28, 2017:
Follow the basic instructions here: https://hubpages.com/appliances/how-to-change-a-4-... making sure to use the proper cord for your outlet. It won't be a dryer cord, but a range cord.
Flora on October 28, 2017:
I have a four prong cooking stove, whirlpool,I have a three prong wall outlet,how can I change a four prong on stove to a three prong ,so I can use my three prong wall outlet,without changing the whole entire wire to the fuse box???
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 02, 2017:
Hi Dalton. If I'm understanding, you have power in the outlet, and on the proper terminals, but it isn't making it to the dryer. About all that could do that is a bad cord, which would be very unusual if it's new, but certainly possible.
dalton on October 01, 2017:
thanks for your reply, I don't have a meeter but it looked ok on the inside and checked it with my hot stick to make sure it had power but when I attacked the new cord it doesn't seem to have power, I checked the connections and the breaker box and everything seems fine and it was still working fine a few days ago at my fathers house he said he blew out the dust with his air compressor before he brought it over tho, is there anything you can think of that could be causing my problem? and thank you for your help
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 01, 2017:
If you wish you could check voltage and continuity. Two of the prongs should have continuity (they are connected together in the panel box) and the other two should show 240 volts between them. Either of the "hot" prongs should also show 120 volts between that prong and the ground and neutral prongs; the two that are connected together. The biggest possible problem is that the ground ("U" shaped prong) is not connected to a ground.
dalton on October 01, 2017:
I just bought a trailer built in 1983 that has a 4 prong outlet I'm assuming was replaced before I got it, I got a 3 prong dryer from my father and was planing on changing the cord but I'm wondering about the outlet now, is there anything I should check to make sure it was installed right?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 23, 2017:
It is not the proper method. The grounding strap is to be removed from the terminal and the green wire goes to the point on the frame where that grounding strap is attached. The center terminal is NOT to be grounded.
Andy on September 23, 2017:
I replaced a three prong with a four prong on an older GE dryer. I left the grounding strap in place and simply doubled up the white and green wires in the middle terminal block position.
Is this safe and acceptable? The unit works great - just not sure if it's acceptable and safe.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 20, 2017:
They are not common. In order to have the UL listing appliances must be either double insulated or have a ground connection. In a commercial application all appliances must have that UL listing and there are virtually no appliances intended for the home that do not have it as well. As a consequence, while 2 prong appliances are common (hand tools, kitchen appliances, etc.) they are all double insulated.
I have, on occasion, been asked to install equipment in commercial applications that do not carry that UL label, but if it is a job that will be inspected (as nearly every job is), the inspector will not allow the equipment to be installed. More than once a customer has gotten a shock to find that their fine new (imported) equipment is illegal to use in this country. In such cases the customer must either have United Laboratories inspect the machinery and apply the label (very expensive) or find other equipment.
Eugene Brennan from Ireland on September 20, 2017:
Are 2 -prong, 120 volt ungrounded appliances (non double insulated) common in the US, or like 3 prong appliances, have the NEC required that newer appliances be provided with a third ground pin?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 20, 2017:
Sounds like you got it!
Don Whisler on September 20, 2017:
Pretty simple (far as I can tell). The 3-prong configuration had a white cord coming from inside the dryer that was grounded to the dryer frame. For the 4-prong configuration, I paired that cord with the white one on the new cable, fastening both together on the middle/neutral terminal. I put the new green cord in the old white one's place, grounded to the frame. The bolts were originally pretty snug when I loosened them s
o I tried to duplicate that when I installed the new cable.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 17, 2017:
None at all. Any 4 prong cable (made for a dryer) will do fine.
Don Whisler on September 17, 2017:
Would there be any concern over taking the 4-prong cable off one Kenmore Elite dryer then installing it on another Kenmore Elite (currently has 3-prong).
From Georgia on September 16, 2017:
Mr Dan thank you so much
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 11, 2017:
It will go somewhere on the frame. Where ever the jumper from the old 3 wire cord attached to the frame of the dryer is preferable.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 11, 2017:
If the screw tightens properly, it is fine. If it is loose and wobbly it will have to be replaced. If that's the case it is possible that a slightly larger screw will work, as long as it is not a machine screw that goes into a nut.
An option is to securely fasten all the wires on that screw together, either with a screw and nut or with a wire nut. If this is done, you must make certain that ALL the wires are included, including any factory wires that go into the dryer and that it is well insulated. Wrapping the entire screw and nut with electrical tape, perhaps.
Latoya on September 11, 2017:
Were do you put the green wire on a 4 prong plug
Keishamarie Bailey on September 11, 2017:
I attempted to do this but I think I messed up the screw hole for the middle wire . I put the screw from the access panel in instead of the one that was there already . Is it safe to keep that one there ??? Please help me .
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 12, 2017:
Well done - you did well to remove the strap. It is not legal to connect the neutral and ground anywhere except inside your main breaker panel.
Matthew on August 12, 2017:
Thank you! Followed another blog which instructed to keep the grounding strap connected to ground and neutral terminal. It just didn't seem right, and then I came across this post. All done and running smooth in 15 minutes.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 01, 2017:
Best guess is that the green wire disappearing into the dryer is a second ground, perhaps for the motor - leave it on the ground screw where it came from.
If the dryer doesn't run or light up any indicator lights, put it back to the center terminal, along with the white wire from the new cord. Put the new green wire to the ground screw, as described in the article whatever you do with the questionable green wire. It would be unusual to have a green wire being used as a neutral inside the dryer but it is possible, and if so it needs hooked to the white wire of the new 4 wire cord.
Andy2017 on August 01, 2017:
I'm trying to change an old 3 prong cord to a 4 prong cord. My dryer does not have the metal strap connecting the neutral to the ground but there is a green wire connecting them. There is a green wire running from inside the dryer to the neutral terminal and then to the ground screw. I assume I need to disconnect it from the ground screw but then what should I do with that end of the wire that was connected to the screw? I have looked around at a bunch of different tutorials and some show a white wire coming from inside the dryer to the ground screw but none show a green wire going to the neutral and then to ground like mine.
I have included a link to three pictures. The first picture is the dryer before I removed any of the cords. The second is after I removed the three main cords. The third is after I removed the ground screw.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 05, 2017:
Number one reason is likely a loose connection. Make sure the breaker is on and it is plugged in - you'd be surprised how often that happens. Using a voltmeter, very carefully check voltage in the dryer - carefully because it is 220V and dangerous.
Branham on July 05, 2017:
I have followed your instructions to a T but my dryer won't start any ideas???
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 04, 2017:
Double check all your connections, making sure they are tight and snug. Check that the breaker is on (you'd be surprised how often it never gets turned back on!). Presuming that one of the 2 whites is from the new cord, you have wired it properly.
If it still doesn't work, use a voltmeter to check voltage at the dryer; you should have 220 volts between red and black, with 110 volts between either red OR black and either white OR ground. Nothing between white and ground.
Rosalee Latham on July 04, 2017:
Hi I just switched over my dryer plug and it is not working. Red on right 2 whites in middle black on left and green on base. Not sure what to do next
Anthony Belle on June 02, 2017:
I changed my outlet back to 3 prong.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 19, 2017:
Probably not. Even if it does, though, the cords are not expensive, and it's probably wise to get another one.
melissa :( on May 19, 2017:
I was trying to see if the new Core would fit and when i plugged it in it exploded will it still work :(
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 28, 2017:
There isn't a whole lot of possibilities here given that a voltmeter shows no voltage at the outlet. A bad breaker, or it is still turned off. Burned wire between the outlet and the panel. Burned wire right at the breaker, resulting in a very poor connection. Use a flashlight to carefully look for burned places in any and all wire you can see, including behind the panel cover. Do be EXTREMELY careful about touching things with that panel cover off!
If there is power there, as shown by a voltmeter, and it is in the right positions on the outlet, it is possible that the dryer is faulty.
A last word - it is not possible to legally and safely change a 3 wire outlet to a 4 wire outlet without installing new wire from the panel to the outlet. Unless you did that, please leave the old outlet in place and deal with changing the cord. It is not legal to install an outlet without a ground, and the old 3 conductor wire does not have one - this is not only unsafe but leaves you open to a rather large liability if it is changed and new owners or buyers are not made aware of it.
Chuck on April 28, 2017:
I have an older home. My dryer had a 3 prong cord. My wife purchased a new dryer with a 4 prong cord. Instead of replacing the cord, attempted to change the outlet. Sparks flew as I inadvertently failed to shut off the right breaker. I had everything changed over after turning off the power, but now there is no power coming thru the outlet. Even changed it back to the original but still no dice. Suggestions?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 28, 2017:
Hi, Shena; there is a link near the top of the article, in the second paragraph, to just such a tutorial - I put it there on the assumption that at least some people would end up on the wrong one. The other tutorial can be found at: https://dengarden.com/appliances/how-to-change-a-4...
Good luck with your changeover!
Shena on April 28, 2017:
Now do a reverse tutorial. I. Eed to go from a 4 prong to a 3. Please?!?!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 24, 2017:
Suggestions would be to check all connections, and that any original wires in the dryer, except those of the old cord, are still in their places. Check the breaker is on.
If these do not find the problem, check voltage is present at each of the terminals: 240 V between red and yellow, 120 V between red and white and yellow and white. Also between red and green and yellow and green.
Suresh Ravilla on April 24, 2017:
I changed 3 prong to 4 prong...green is put to an existing screw while rest 3 (white, red, yellow) put to their designated spots. It doesnt work.
any inputs are appreciated.
Clarence Driver on April 23, 2017:
Thanks for the info. My daughter lives about an hour away and your info has kept me from having to go to her. Thanks again
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 10, 2017:
Just leave the yellow one right where it is; it will be going into the dryer and must be there to run.
Jamie on April 10, 2017:
There is a yellow wire under the white wire, do i leave it or remove it? Thank u
cb on March 01, 2017:
This is the easiest instructional i've come across. i just bought a dryer for a mobile home we are renting and the dryer is three prong. we have to make a run to home depot in the morning to get a 4-prong now.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 13, 2017:
No, it is not normal to have a loose ground screw. It must be snug.
You might try a slightly larger screw, particularly if it is of the sheet metal type. Or a screw and nut if that's feasible. You could drill a new hole in the frame somewhere and install a screw with nut. You might even splice the grounds together, adding another wire long enough to reach someplace else on the frame where there is a screw.
But don't leave it loose.
Taylor on February 13, 2017:
Hi Dan! I got my wires all hooked up, except the ground screw will not tighten. It comes out easily. Is that normal?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 04, 2017:
@Bianca: As a last resort, LG can probably supply you with a new terminal block, although that would be a shame to have to go that way because someone tightened them beyond any thing reasonable. If they are nuts on a stud (common) you might try a mechanic's socket, or possibly a nut driver might work. Beyond that and the things you've already tried I have no suggestions.
Yes, adapters are available, although I don't like them personally. There is a link early on in this article to one from Amazon (look for a link with a little yellow "a"); although it is the wrong one for your use, the page will show ones that are correct. In your unique situation it may be the best answer, although a rather expensive one.
Bianca on February 04, 2017:
Good morning, quick question.....back in November 2015 I had my brand new LG dryer placed in my old rental home with the installers placing a 3-prong cord onto it. Fast forward to this week and with me moving into brand new build, would have to switch over to the 4-prong cord. My dilemma is that I cannot, for the life of me (nor 2 other men) get the screws holding the prongs to the back of the dryer to come off!!!! We've tried wd-40 per Home Depot's request because they refuse to come out and address it even though they were the ones that initially installed it. But nothing is working, I would hate to have to have to buy a new dryer because of these prongs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated?! Also, I googled and saw that Northern Tool sold a 3 and 4-prong adapter but the reviews mainly mentioned campers, is this something I could use instead of changing out the cord?!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 01, 2017:
@ Julian: Yes, the green wire is absolutely required. Not only because the law requires it but also for safety. Without that green wire there is no ground at all in the dryer. Please make sure it is used as described in this article.
Julian david acosta on February 01, 2017:
Is the green cord required to be connected?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 10, 2017:
Sorry, but it is illegal to extend the 3 wire cable. Code requires a ground now, and doesn't care that your dryer doesn't. If you're going to move that outlet it will have to be re-wired all the way back to the panel, a 4 prong outlet installed and the dryer changed to a 4 prong.
A real hassle, and expensive, but that's what is required.
Gordon on January 09, 2017:
I need to move a 3 prong outlet two feet to accomodate a built in. I would prefer to upgrade the whole line per 250.138 but I would have to wire all the way back to the panel. The dryer itself is also 3 prong. Is it acceptable practice to extend the line per older code or should i bite the bullet and redo the whole line.?
Liberal123 on November 23, 2016:
Thank you. I needed this.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 10, 2016:
If you do that you need to be aware that the home will no longer meet electrical codes and that you could be liable for any damages down the road when that house is sold. It's not a smart thing to do.
b on October 10, 2016:
can i replace the outlet rather than the cord?
AngelBaby on October 07, 2016:
Awesome Saucesome!!!!! You Totally Rock!!!!
Kt on August 14, 2016:
Perfect, perfect, perfect....
Articles such as yours is how I earned my nickname, Kt Villa. Merci!
Blessings and enjoy your retirement!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 29, 2016:
No. A regular socket will not carry the amperage a dryer requires.
Mrs Williams on July 14, 2016:
I have a 3 prong dyer 30amp and I only have a regular socket outlet are there Adpters that can be purchased?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 10, 2015:
No. But if wired for 120 it would do more than a"little bit" faster. Unless it used to be a 120 sweet up?
Pacific on October 09, 2015:
After changing this on a 6 year old Kenmore dryer that says it accepts 120 and 220/240 volts, it seems to be running a bit faster and hotter than our previous 3 prong connection at our old house. Is this normal? Thank you.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 09, 2015:
You should only remove the ground strap on the dryer from the terminal block. The green ground wire on the new cord will then go to the place on the frame of the dryer where that old ground strap was - NOT to the terminal block at all. You can leave the old ground strap attached to the dryer frame as long as it does not touch any of the other wires (except the new ground wire, of course). This will save it for future use in case you ever need to go back to a three wire cord.
May on May 08, 2015:
Hello, I had a question about the ground wire from the dryer and the ground wire to the electrical cord. If I'm understanding this correctly, I am to take the ground wire to the dryer off and push it to the side (where do I put it? The two ground wires are not allow to touch or sparks will fly?) and put the ground wire to the electrical cord on where the old used to be to replace it? I apologize, I am not very mechanical and I'm very confused.
I have a feeling I did something wrong because the dryer is very hot to the touch and I'm afraid it may start a fire!?! When I turn it on, it works but it feels too hot? Please help :-)
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 10, 2014:
I doubt you have seriously harmed the dryer. I'm confused, though about just what you did. You left the ground wire attached to the frame and going to the center (or white) wire on the cable. Then touched the new ground wire (that is plugged into the wall) to the old ground wire and got a spark.
There should not have been a spark as that white wire is grounded in the breaker box anyway. Not unless you have one of the black or red wires going to that center terminal, whereupon the breaker should blow without harming the dryer. Check the breaker to see if it is blown.
If that is the case, you are energizing the frame of the dryer; a definite safety hazard and sooner or later you WILL be shocked from it. Neither the red nor black wires should ever be grounded, either to the ground wire OR the frame of the dryer.
KMAC173 on February 10, 2014:
So I followed these directions but left the old grounding wire still attached to the frame. I then connected the 3 wires and turned on my machine (without connecting the new grounding wire) It worked perfectly....then.....I moved my dryer over and the old grounding wire touched the new grounding wire. There was a nice spark and now the dryer does not work.....is it just the cable? Or did I just create a $900 paperweight?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 28, 2013:
Yes, it can be done. Because of the danger of shock or fire, however, it should be done by a licensed electrician. They can change both the receptacle and the panel breaker into something suitable for a washer for a reasonable fee.
melissa on August 28, 2013:
Is there anyway to do this for a washer machine?? The outlet where my washer machine is located is 240volt/4 prong, but the washer has a 120volt/3prong.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 19, 2012:
You're more than welcome, and thanks for the post. It's always nice to hear that I've managed to help someone out.
j4nme on December 19, 2012:
Thanks for having this page and instructions. I was scared to do this myself, but your steps made it easy! I appreciate your post!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 10, 2012:
No. I understand that there are few 120 volt dryers out there made for very small apartments, RV's and such but any dryer requiring the normal 220 volts can be wired following the directions give here.
Check the nameplate on the dryer for the voltage; if it is the normal 220 volts (or anything close, such as 240 volts), follow the directions here. If it is one of those tiny dryers operating on 120 volts it should already have a plug on it that can be plugged into a regular wall socket
Matthew on December 10, 2012:
Wilderness, my dryer on the back (near the access plate) says specifically that it is a three cord dryer only. Do you think this is an issue? I just moved into a new apartment and they only have the 4 prong outlet.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on November 03, 2012:
I'm sure it will, thickalious. Just be sure that the white, neutral, wire no longer goes to the frame of the dryer and that the green one does instead.
thickalious305 on November 03, 2012:
I just purchased a 3 prongs dryere and i have a 4 prongs outlet. this information is very handy and i praay it all goes well. Will keep you informed. Thanks for the knowledge
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 26, 2012:
It is indeed easy to do, and pretty hard to mess up. It can also be a time and dollar saver as most electricians will charge a minimum of $100 or so, plus parts. Then you have to schedule it and make sure you're home for the 15 minutes it will take.
Better to do it yourself.
Janis Goad on September 25, 2012:
I might even get the courage to try this myself--I am a duffer at Do-it-yourself home repairs, but your instructions are so exact and easy to follow.
I'm sharing this!
RTalloni on September 25, 2012:
Doing this cord changeout yourself is a time saver and a dollar saver. Good stuff you have here!
Judi Brown from UK on September 25, 2012:
My husband is a not a handyman, in fact the thought of him attempting anything involving electricity scares me, so this is the sort of thing that gets left to me. I shall pin it for reference!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 07, 2011:
:-) That's all right - in less than a year I intend to retire anyway, and I do enjoy passing on what I've picked up over the years.
againsttheodds on December 07, 2011:
Great tip, but if you tell everyone how to do stuff you might be out of work.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on November 03, 2011:
You're welcome. As you say, this is my professional field; I'm put more than a few of these over the years, and enjoy sharing what I've learned in the process.
Knowing Truth from Malaysia on November 03, 2011:
Thanks for sharing this useful tips and your professional knowhow.