Dan has been a licensed journey-level electrician for some 17 years. He has extensive experience in most areas of the electrical trade.
Congratulations! You've just moved into your new home, the new drapes are up, and the washer and dryer are ready to be put into place. But wait! The dryer cord won't plug in—the dryer cord has four prongs, but the wall receptacle only has three holes! What's up with this?
What's up is that in 1999, the National Electric Code instituted a change, requiring all new dryers and home dryer receptacles to have 4 prongs instead of the older 3-prong style. That fourth prong is a ground wire and is there for better electrical safety. The older outlets are "grandfathered" in the rule change and are quite legal to use if already in place, but you will need a new cord to fit it.
Now, it would be convenient if there was a dryer plug adapter that you could plug into that three-pronged receptacle so that you could plug your dryer into that—but there isn't. You will have to change the dryer cord to make it fit.
The good news is that dryer cords are readily available and fairly inexpensive, and it isn’t very hard to switch them. Amazon carries dryer cords in a wide variety of lengths, and home improvement stores will usually have one or two sizes as well. A screwdriver and a pair of pliers will do the job, although some nut drivers would be nice.
Now if the situation with your dryer cord and outlet is backwards from this—that is, you have a three-pronged cord and a four-pronged outlet—you are looking at the wrong article. Look at this article instead: Changing A 3-Prong Dryer Cord And Plug to a 4-Prong Cord.
If Your Wall Plug Looks Like This...
But the Cord on Your Dryer Looks Like This...
You Need to Buy a Cord That Looks Like This...
Removing the Old Four-Prong Plug
Begin by unplugging the dryer. There is high voltage inside (240 volts) that can give you a very nasty shock, even kill you. Make sure there is no chance of this by unplugging the dryer before proceeding any further.
There will be some kind of connector holding the dryer cable to the wall of the dryer so that it doesn't pull out. The most common type is a clamp with two screws on the outside that can be tightened to squeeze the wire into place. Loosen these screws so that the wire can slide out of the dryer.
Remove the cover plate from the wire terminal block, exposing the wires inside. Note where each color of wire terminates. A picture, either hand drawn or taken with your smart phone, can be very useful. Normally, you will see a row of three terminal screws, with the red and black wires connected to the two outside screws, the white wire connected to the center screw, and the green wire connected to the frame of the dryer.
Remove each wire from the screw or stud holding it, making sure to save all nuts or screws. A nut driver or socket is preferred but a pair of pliers is usually sufficient to loosen and remove the wires.
Work the old wire out of the connector that holds it to the wall of the dryer, and set it aside for possible future use. You never know when you might move again, and Murphy's Law says that if you do, it will be back into a home with a four-prong dryer plug!
Installing the Three-Prong Dryer Cord and Plug
Once the four-wire cord is removed, it is time to install the new three-wire cord and plug. Work the wire through the connector, but do not tighten it yet. The red and black wires go to the outer two terminals (in the photo the dryer wires are black and blue) and the white wire goes to the terminal in the center of the terminal block. While the red and black wires are interchangeable, the white wire is not; make sure it goes to the center terminal, where the old white wire was.
Most three-wire cords do not have colored wires, so instead of matching colors identify the wires using the relative position of the wires in the cord. The center wire of the three will always go to the center (white) terminal; the outer two wires go to the outer terminals. The outer two wires can be interchanged, but never put the center wire of a flat, three-wire cord on anything but the center terminal.
Your three-prong cord will not have a green ground wire. In place of that wire a ground strap or short piece of #10 wire (preferably green) must be installed. One end should go to where the green wire on the old cord went, and the other end to the terminal where the white wire went. Do not ignore this step! You must have a "jumper" of some kind, a wire or strap, installed between the dryer frame and the white wire. This jumper is the only thing that grounds the dryer. Without it, if there is an electrical problem later, the frame may become energized and present a huge shock hazard.
The photo shows a metal strap installed; it goes from the white wire down the side of the terminal block, and is screwed to the dryer frame. If this strap is not available (and it usually isn't) purchase a one-foot piece of #10 green wire, strip an inch of insulation from each end, and install that wire between the connector the white wire used to go to and the connector on the frame where the green wire used to go.
With the wires all terminated, tighten the connector on the outside of the dryer that holds the cable securely.
It is wise to turn the power off at this point, just in case something has been wired wrong. With the power off, plug the dryer into the wall outlet and turn the breaker back on. Test the dryer for proper operation and you're done. Congratulations on doing your own home repair job! It wasn't so bad, was it, even though that dryer cord adapter you really wanted isn't available?
A final thought: now that you have your dryer operating properly, the vent hose may need some attention. Older, plastic, vent hoses are not recommended as a fire hazard, and even newer metallic ones deteriorate over time. Many dryers are placed very close to the wall where the exhaust vent is located, requiring that the hose be badly kinked in order to hook up to it, and rigid metal elbows are available to help alleviate this problem. Neither the dryer vent or vent elbows are expensive; consider replacing them or at a minimum clean out the vent hose and the vent opening outside your home. While you're at it, check that the vent outside operates correctly, closing when the dryer is not running so that insects and small animals cannot get in. Whether you purchase your new cord at a local home improvement store or through the Amazon link above, both vent hoses and elbows are available and can be purchased at the same time as the new cord.
Installing a New Dryer Cord
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 am changing a four prong dryer cord to a three prong cord. My problem is the lack of a ground wire on the new three prong cord. I saw the instructions online, it explained about the grounding plate & the #10 wire. Well, when I went to Lowe's an employee there told me it was unnecessary. She said she was educated in electrical things & assured me she knew what she was talking about. So which is it? Do I have to ground it to the body of the dryer, or can I just hook the new three prong cord up and roll with it?
Answer: You may believe a Lowes sales person who is "educated in things" or you may believe an electrician with 20 years of practical experience that has read and understood the electrical code of the US as well as what grounding does and why it is necessary. Your choice: should you choose experience and understanding of electricity then put the ground strap in as described.
I did not provide explicit directions and photos for a grounding wire because it looks pretty; I did it because grounding is necessary for safe operation of your dryer and is required by law.
Question: My dryer had a green and yellow wire in the center terminal. Can this be used as a ground wire?
Answer: Impossible to say, although it is likely. You would have to find the other end of that wire and verify it is attached to the frame of the dryer.
Question: My 4 prong cord had the green wire attached to the same terminal as the white wire. Does that mean that my center terminal is grounded already and that I do not need to run a new jumper?
Answer: It is possible. It is also possible that it is not. In any case, however, can putting a jumper from the center terminal to the frame of the dryer cause any problems, so do that to make sure the dryer is grounded.
Question: My new dryer has three terminals on the back, but I must use a four prong cord. So does the green and white wire go to the middle together?
Answer: No. The green wire goes to the frame of the dryer; any place on the frame that it can be attached. One suggestion is where the "jumper" from the center terminal to the frame is, and then remove that jumper from the center terminal.
It sounds like you are in the wrong article; you need the one that describes changing a 4 wire cord to a 3 wire: https://hubpages.com/appliances/changing-a-3-prong...
Question: My dryer had two white wires along with a green, black and red where does the extra white wire go?
Answer: Are those wires in the cord, making it a five wire cord? If they are strictly internal to the dryer, not the cord, they will go to the center terminal. If you have a five wire cord, I'm sorry but can't help you.
Question: I’m replacing a 4-prong cord with a 3-prong cord. Can I use the green wire from the 4-prong cord for the 3-prong cord?
Answer: If you are asking if you can cut off the green wire from the 4-wire cord and use it as the jumper wire described in the article when installing a 3-wire cord, the answer is yes. It is of the appropriate size and will do the job nicely.
The only negative is that when you move again, you may need that 4-wire cord once more.
Question: I bought an adapter to fix this - won't that work as is if my 4-prong is wired correctly or do I have to change internal wiring?
Answer: I have not found any adapters that are UL listed, meaning they do not meet the safety regulations of the National Electric Code. If you choose to use one anyway, follow directions (some have an extra ground wire that must be plugged into the ground hold of a nearby outlet). Do not re-wire the dryer.
Question: Can you change the 3 wire outlet into a 4 wire outlet? Is it easier to just change the cord?
Answer: You cannot change a 3 wire outlet to a 4 wire outlet without running new wire from the panel to the outlet - there are only 3 wires there and you need 4. You most definitely CAN change the cord, though - cords are readily available, it is a simple task and is quite legal and safe to change the cord out.
Question: If there is already a ground strap on my dryer (like you have in the photo) will I still need to use a #10 wire?
Answer: No. It is much simpler and easier, and just as effective, to use that strap rather than a wire.
Question: I noticed that my three-prong dryer cord doesn't match my three-prong outlet. I have 10/2 WG wire to the outlet. Could I use a three-prong range cord to match that outlet?
Answer: You can, and it will be wired the same way the article describes for a three-wire dryer cord. The biggest concern is the breaker size and the ampacity of the outlet; both should be 30 amp. If the breaker is larger than that, it won't provide the proper protection for the dryer or the wire.
The best option, though, might be to put in a three-wire dryer outlet rather than the range outlet. It's not difficult and would prevent future problems with the dryer not fitting the wall outlet. Just don't try to install a four-wire outlet--there aren't enough wires for that.
Question: You said to purchase a foot of #10 green wire, why a foot? The space is an inch apart?
Answer: Most stores will not sell you an inch. Their prices are per foot. Plus, of course, not every dryer in the country has a ground lug within an inch of the center terminal; only some of them.
Question: When I did the steps my dryer shot sparks out. I took the ground plate off but then the dryer shocked us. What should I do?
Answer: Sounds like you have swapped one of the hot wires with the neutral on the center terminal. Re-check that you have the wires in the proper position; the center wire of the cord goes on the center terminal of the dryer and the two outside wires (on a flat cord) goes to the two outside terminals in the dryer.
Question: I’m replacing a 4-prong cord with a 3-prong cord. The 3-prong does not have a green wire. After I purchase a #10, how do I situate the green ground wire on the 3-wire cord?
Answer: It does not go on the cord. One end terminates to the center terminal, with the center wire, and the other end goes to the frame of the dryer. Most likely there is a spot where the old green wire went; put the second end there.
Question: I am trying to convert my three cord dryer to a four cord, but I don't have a housing unit that the cords screw into to make a male connection. How should I connect the new cord?
Answer: If your cord is permanently attached to the dryer - soldered or crimped permanently in place - I'd call an electrician or an appliance repairman to install the new cord. It may not be possible, though I've never seen a dryer built that way.
Are you positive that there isn't a little "door", or cover, that can be removed after taking a screw or two out?
Question: Thanks for the info very helpful. I do have a question about the ground. Everything I see is that the unit is already grounded to the machine thus you just hook up the three wires. I have a four-year-old LG that has a white wire that runs over to a connection that has a green cap. Is that functioning as the wire connection you described, just the vendor has taken care of the ground issue?
Answer: If the white wire goes from the center terminal to the frame of the dryer, it is the jumper discussed. However, if it is, it was not legal to be there with a four wire cord!
I would add a jumper, just in case. If it doubles up with something already there, no harm was done, but if it is left out and the dryer is not grounded, it opens up the possibility of a nasty shock.
Question: I have a four plug cord and 4 plug wall socket except only 3 wires go to the wall plug. The dryer plug fits the wall plug but when running, arcing occurs from the supply lines. Is this safe to use?
Answer: I'm only guessing here, but it sounds like someone in the past has taken the easy way out and replaced the 3 wire wall outlet with a 4 wire outlet. Unfortunately there are only 3 of the 4 wires necessary in the wall - what they did to hook it up is impossible to know.
But if you're getting sparking from anywhere something is badly wrong. You need to find out just where those three wires in the outlet are going in the electrical panel and get a 3 wire outlet, properly wired, into the wall, followed by a 3 wire cord to the dryer. It is neither legal nor safe to use only 3 wires to hook up a 4 wire wall outlet.
Question: There is a green wire that is coming from the dryer and connects to the frame. Should it be moved from the frame to the center wire?
Answer: No. Instead of a jumper wire, or a ground strap, must be added, going from the center terminal to where that green wire connects to the frame. Leave the green wire where it is and add the jumper.
Question: When removing my old four prong cord from my dryer, the white and green wires were both together on the center terminal and the red and black on the outsides. I also have a green wire with a yellow stripe going from the dryer frame to inside the dryer. Do I still need a jumper from the center terminal to the dryer frame since the four prong wasn't grounded to the frame?
Answer: Yes. Leave the ground jumper where it is, going from the center terminal to the frame. Without a ground, the new three wire cord has no other way to ground the frame of the dryer.
It is curious that a four wire cord had that jumper, and that the green and white were terminated together. Either the factory made an error or someone in the past changed cords incorrectly.
Question: Would a jumper be copper from the middle white to the frame? Does it require a 10 AWG wire or can I use the copper that they have in the dryer already? There is a pre-existing flat copper piece from the white wire to the frame.
Answer: That is the preferred method of grounding the dryer. No additional wire is necessary if the bonding strap is already in place from the center, white wire, terminal to the frame.
Question: You say there is no adapter, 4 to 3 prong, but I have found several! What's the deal?
Answer: Be very careful: I find lots of adapters made for welders or other 240V stuff, so they can run off the dryer outlet. But nothing for a dryer. Although the plugs may LOOK similar, they won't fit unless specifically made for a dryer. They must carry the NEMA designation of 10-30P (3 wire plug) and 14-30R (4 wire receptacle). Or, if that's backwards, 10-30R and 14-30P (4 wire plug, 3 wire receptacle).
I also see lots of "twist-lock" cords that will plug into a dryer outlet: these are 240V extension cords that are plugged together and twisted to lock them in place. A dryer cord does not do that and won't fit even though it looks similar.
Amazon used to carry one, and it still shows up, but has been unavailable for some time now. Problem is that the adapter, when 4 prong (dryer) to 3 (wall outlet), must use the ground as a neutral, and that isn't legal to do which in turn means there can be no UL label. That raises the possibility of liability, which few companies are willing to do. If you go the other way, 4 prong outlet and 3 prong dryer, you now have to connect the neutral to the ground inside the adapter and again, that isn't legal outside of a dryer that is grandfathered under the law. Same thing: no UL label and increased liability.
Question: The white wire that is behind the white wire on the four wire plug that I am removing for the three prong plug.... can that be used for the ground wire?
Answer: No. It is likely that that other white wire goes to the controls of the dryer, which normally requires 120 volts rather than 240. Leave it where it is and add another ground wire to the frame.
Question: I have a 4 wire feed (white, red, black, bare ground) in my wall for the dryer, female wall plug only has connections for 3 wires (3 prong plug) I know to hook up the ground then red and black hot wires but where does the white wire go, or can it be capped off and tucked away?
Answer: First, you should understand that it is not legal today to put a three prong outlet in the wall; if there are four wires there, then they must all be used, and a four wire dryer cord be used to connect to the dryer.
Beyond that, the three wires that go to such an outlet are the black, red and white: there is no ground terminal on a three wire dryer outlet.
Question: What if the dryer still doesn't turn on after doing everything correctly?
Answer: The breaker may be turned off, it isn't wired correctly, or the dryer is faulty. There isn't much other option.
Question: Where do I put the ground when changing from a 4 prong dryer receptacle to a 3 prong?
Answer: There is no ground wire in a 3 wire cord. Instead, a grounding jumper must be installed as shown and described in the article.
Question: Will not hooking up the second ground wire to the middle changing a 4-1 to a 3-1 cause the dryer to not heat?
Answer: No; both the power and the neutral wires are still there and still hooked just as before. All you are doing is providing a ground for the chassis of the dryer.
Question: Where do I attach the old white wire? Do I attach it to the same place with the new green wire?
Answer: The white wire in the dryer that disappears inside the dryer rather than being in the cord should stay where it is--in the center termination point. That's also where the new white wire in the cord goes, though most three-wire cords are not colored, and it is simply the center wire of the cord. The green ground jumper goes with the other end of the jumper going to the frame of the dryer.
Question: Can I use a bolt and nut to hold the bottom wire in place, or is that dangerous given that electricity is involved? Or should I buy a new terminal block? The bottom connector came out and won’t stay in place now. I have a 30-year-old Maytag dryer.
Answer: A nut and bolt is fine. Just be sure that neither one contacts the frame or wall of the dryer.
Question: I just got a new stackable washer & dryer. I hooked up the 3-prong to the back red wire on the top and the white in the middle, and black on the bottom. Do I leave the ground strap hooked up to the white wire? (neutral position)
Answer: If you are using a three prong cord, you will need the ground strap connected to the center, white, wire. Yes, leave it in place.
Question: I'm trying to find either a grounding plate or grounding strap online. Can you give a specific link or more specific terms to search for so I order the right length and size? Also what tools will I need to complete the job?
Answer: It will not be possible to specify exactly what your dryer will need for a grounding strap. If you are set on a ground strap rather than a piece of wire (a few inches of #10 wire will do fine) you might take a look at what you will need and visit an automotive parts store. They should have a variety of lengths.
Some nut drivers would be nice, but pliers will do. A knife or some other method of stripping wire may be necessary. A screwdriver, probably Phillips but perhaps a straight blade. It's a pretty simple task and doesn't require a box full of tools.
Question: I changed my four prong to a three prong, hooked it up properly, and the dryer ran for 30 minutes before quitting. It was running fine before I changed it. What could possibly be wrong?
Answer: Are your connections tight? Is there a "hair" of a wire shorted to the next terminal and causing the breaker to trip? I'd check those for a start - there isn't much else that could go wrong after 30 minutes and be a cause of the failure.
And of course it is always possible it was time for the dryer to die. Coincidences DO happen!
Question: I'm removing an old dryer and replacing it with a new one. Now obviously I need to switch the new 4 prong plug to a 3 prong plug. Would it be OK to salvage the 3 prong cord from the old dryer and use it for the new dryers plug (the only reason I'm switching dryers is simply because I was given a newer better model) so there shouldnt be any issues with the 3 prong cord being damaged or anything like that. Would it be safe?
Answer: Absolutely. If there is no obvious damage to the cord then re-use it on the new dryer. And keep the existing 4 prong cord for when you move into a house with a 4 wire outlet.
Question: I have 4 prong wall outlet and I'm thinking to connect a European dryer with 2 prong Schuko plug. While Canadian 4 prong plug has 240V between two hot wires at +- 120V each, the German Schuko is 230V on one pin and neutral for the second one. Could you see if this is a problem?
Answer: Yes, it is a problem. American, and I assume Canadian, dryers require 120 volts for the controls. Europe runs on a 240V system, which is why there is no 120V available there. You must have two wires providing 240V for the heating element and a supply, using the neutral, for 120V for the controls. If you somehow hook it up using the neutral for a 240V supply you will blow out all the control structure on the dryer.
Question: I am changing a four prong to a three prong, but the green and white wires from the cord were both attached to the center connection on the dryer. There is a green screw on the dryer with a white wire going into the dryer, where to, I can't see. Was this dryer previously converted to a four prong? Not sure what to do about the ground. I was told by the previous owner the dryer is 4 or 5 years old.
Answer: It sounds like it was previously converted. Age isn't much of an indicator; at 5 years old it should have come with a 4 prong but could have been converted to a 3, then back to a 4.
In any case, the new center wire on the 3 wire cord will go to the center terminal, with a jumper from there to the frame of the dryer - the green screw on the frame would be the best place to put the other end of the jumper. Leave the existing white wire where it is; it will be used to operate the controls and needs to be there.
© 2011 Dan Harmon
James on April 29, 2020:
Very nice write up. Made it simple.
Jim on January 27, 2020:
Nice article, very clear and understandable.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on November 06, 2019:
The only wires that should be disconnected are those that were the 4 prong cord you removed. That yellow wire is going to be there to run something inside the dryer; likely the electronics but could be something else. Leave it on the center terminal where it was.
Most machines have a double set of terminals; one set for the cord and one (that is actually connected to the first set) for the dryer parts. Some, though, simply use one set and put both dryer wires and cord wires on the same terminal post.
Jill on November 06, 2019:
I am changing my cord from 4 prong to 3 prong. I have put the green wire back where it had been. I noticed when I was putting the center neutral wire on that there had been a yellow wire from the machine connected to center location should it still be connected to that center wire?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 17, 2019:
Absolutely! In fact, I recommend keeping the old cord, whichever way you are changing it, for future use. If that cord is not obviously damaged it will be fine.
I just changed out a range cord (the problems are the same with ranges with 3 and 4 wire cords), for the same reason you are changing your dryer cord. And I used the range cord from the range I was taking out.
Sumner Owen on September 17, 2019:
I'm removing an old dryer and replacing it with a new one.Now obviously I need to switch the new 4 prong plug to a 3 prong plug. Would it be ok to salvage the 3 prong cord from the old dryer and use it for the new dryers plug( the only reason I'm switching dryers is simply because I was given a newer better model) so there shouldnt be any issues with the 3 prong cord being damaged or anything like that. So would it be ok to do so?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 27, 2019:
The apartment outlet either has no neutral or no ground (which has been illegal for years). There should never be an unused terminal in an outlet.
But you're on the right track; if you connect the ground wire in your cord to both ground AND the center terminal it should work. That IS how a three wire cord works anyway - the neutral and ground are connected inside the dryer. Any wires coming from the dryer mechanism should be left just as they are; simply connect the cord "ground" (or neutral if that's what it actually is) to the center terminal with a jumper to the framework of the dryer. This is described in the article, and it won't make any difference whether that "ground" wire is an actual ground in the improperly wired outlet or actually a neutral.
A side note - your landlord is correct in that the outlet will supply 240 volts to the dryer. What he is ignoring is that a dryer also requires 120 volts, and that the wire providing that (the neutral) is missing.
David on August 27, 2019:
I just purchased a new dryer and live in an apartment. There is a four prong outlet but only has 3 wires to it. It has a red and black hot wire to the two straight blades and a ground wire to the round blade. When dryer was delivered they hooked up a four prong cord with the white wire to the center and black and red to the two outside and the ground to the frame the dryer does not power on. The apartment maintenance says that the plug is not the problem and will deliver 220 to the dryer. I have noticed in operation manual that I can attach the ground wire to the center terminal. But there is also another white wire from the dryer attached to the center. What can I do if anything to get the dryer to power on?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 02, 2019:
The vent hose could definitely be a problem. It is unlikely, but possible, that you have put the center wire on an outside terminal; be sure that the center, or white, wire is on the center terminal.
Emma on August 02, 2019:
We recently replaced the cord from 4 to 3, but now it seems the heat is not working properly. It is taking 3-4 rounds to dry a batch of t-shirts on high! Would it be a missing step in the cord? Could the vent hose be a problem as well?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 18, 2019:
First, it is no longer legal to install an outlet without a ground, which is what the 3 prong setup is. If you try to go the other way, from a 3 to a 4 prong, the wiring in the wall is missing a ground so the 4 prong outlet, requiring a ground, will not have one.
Brandon on July 17, 2019:
Out of curiosity, why are you not able to change out the wall receptacle instead of changing out the wire ? Thanks.!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 14, 2019:
Yes, you can purchase a replacement, 3 prong, cord. If you are asking if there is an adapter of some sort; none that I would recommend; I actually recommend that any such adapter NOT be used.
Dom on May 14, 2019:
I have a regular three prong outlet and a four prong dryer cord is there a replacement cord for that
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 06, 2019:
No. You must match the plug to the outlet. The L shaped bottom prong is standard for dryers.
Jo on May 06, 2019:
If the outlet on the wall has three prongs yet the bottom is the L-shaped can I use a 3 pound with the bottom from being flat will it still work
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 07, 2019:
Yes, there are adapters that come and go on Amazon. This one is typical: an advertisement from China, in broken English, claiming to have a UL approval but failing to stamp it on their product as required by UL. They're willing to make a single cord to your specification, but it costs a great deal to get a UL listing and they will lose hundreds of dollars trying to do so for each product produced.
But beyond that, consider just where you're going to put that ground wire, and what will be used for a neutral wire. There IS no neutral in the wall, so any "neutral" in the adapter is not one at all. The ad says to ground that green wire to a 15 amp outlet (it doesn't say where to attach it or where to find another outlet that the wire will reach) - electrical code in the US requires a #10 ground wire to the panel and a 15 amp outlet only has a #14 wire. It will not carry fault current safely.
Buy and use the adapter at your own risk; I wouldn't use it.
Emily on April 06, 2019:
Hi, a little bit off topic but you said that there is no adapter. I'm looking at this adapter from Amazon. Is this okay to buy instead of a dryer cord and rewiring as you described? Link:
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 23, 2019:
One end of the ground jumper goes to the center terminal, along with the center wire on the new cord. The other end attaches anywhere on the body/frame of the dryer; an excellent point is wherever the 4 wire ground attached.
Frank Testa on February 21, 2019:
Thanks, Dan. But your explanation of how the ground wire is installed needs to be clearer. Tell me how to connect to the middle wire and the frame. I'm dealing with a conversion from a 4-prong stove cord to a 3-prong cord. Thanks
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 21, 2019:
I am not familiar with wiring requirements in Costa Rica. In the US, the neutral (white) wire is grounded to the ground bus in the panel, but everywhere else in the building it is forbidden to connect the white to the ground.
In the past (US) dryers then used the neutral wire as a ground; after all, it is connected to the ground in the panel. This is not the best possible arrangement, but it did provide grounding safety to the frame of the dryer via a ground jumper from the center wire of the dryer cable (that's the neutral) to the frame of the dryer. It's good enough that when the electrical code changed it was allowed to remain in millions of homes.
So if Costa Rica grounds that neutral wire in the panel box it will work fine as far as safety goes. I have no way of knowing if it is legal to do, though, and you MUST install a jumper as described above between the center terminal and the frame of the dryer. Again, assuming you are using a dryer intended for the US market.
This isn't the first time I've heard that manufacturers are not including that jumper in their instructions. I don't know if there is already one there (there really should not be for a 4 wire cord) or if they are just assuming that current codes apply to all houses. But even if it is already there it cannot hurt to put another one in - be sure to install that jumper!
Jonathan Araya on February 21, 2019:
I´m a civil engineer from Costa Rica trying to understand electrical topics.
Great article by the way!
In my new house we had a 4-prong 14-50 Nema receptable for the dryer, like the ones you use for your Kitchen. (I checked the circuit and has a 30 amp breaker). So, I filed a claim to the construction company to change it.
At the local hardware store they couldn´t find the correct 14-30 receptable, only a 3-prong one (hard to believe, I know). They install it. I´m not sure what they do with the ground cable coming from the breaker, I think they cut it and wrap tape around it.
- I´m clear about the US electrical code about the 3 prong connection it´s outdated. Regardless of that, will this connection work? I´m worry about the ground cable. If not, considering I already have the 3 prong receptacle and the cable, is there a way to solve it?
- I just read my Whirlpool Dryer install instructions and does not mentioned anything about the ground for the 3 receptable to the dryer´s frame. INteresting they skip this.
Rdc923@gmail.com on November 14, 2018:
Thanks for the help. I had switched cords and then read your site and learned that I did not have a proper ground. I used the ground strap from the old dryer that i put the 3 prong on. Thanks for saving me from a shock
Chris on October 25, 2018:
Hi dan, i have a dryer i got from my inlaws next door, at yheir house its on a 4 prong and works great, i followed your steps and when put in my home on a 3 prong it runs for a minute and shuts off, i took it back to their house and it works just fine there, but still shuts off at my house... any idea what i might be dealing with?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 22, 2018:
Leave all wires alone that are not a part of the new cord. The only exception is the ground wire/strap when changing FROM a 3 wire cord TO a 4 wire cord; that one is to be removed.
If you are change from a 3 wire cord to a 4 wire cord, you have the wrong article. See https://dengarden.com/appliances/changing-a-3-pron...
DG on October 22, 2018:
I'm changing a 3 prong cord to a 4 prong cord on my samsung dryer. I put the ground green/yellow stripe ground wire from the dryer with the white wire in the middle as instructed. What do i do about the small green wire below the wire panel cover. Samsung shows a picture of my dryer but doesn't show how to change it. Nor does my manual. Should I leave it alone since it is on the white panel outside the cover. It does come from the dryer. Could that also be a ground wire?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 11, 2018:
@Lisa: There are few adapters out there, but the biggest problem is that they are not UL listed as they do not follow current National Electric Code. I do not recommend them; instead I strongly recommend replacing your 3 prong cord with a 4 prong. It is much cheaper, easy to do and provides the safest method of using the new dryer.
Lisa on September 11, 2018:
I just got a new dryer (used) it is 4 prong and my old dryer was 3 prong. I was told I could buy and use an adapter and use that, is this true?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 29, 2018:
Absolutely it is safe if done correctly. That is why the article was written; to explain how to do it safely.
Crystal on August 28, 2018:
I am converting a 4 prong into a 3 that is safe right
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 16, 2018:
If it is at least 10 gauge wire, Mark, you could. Very few speakers use that large a wire, though - most systems are using 18 gauge or smaller (bigger numbers mean smaller wire).
Mark on August 10, 2018:
Hey can I use speaker wire for my jumper wire
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 08, 2018:
If you follow the directions here, no, you will not need a ground. When the directions are followed, the neutral wire serves as a ground so the wall outlet does not need one.
This is only legal in the case of an older home with a 3 prong dryer outlet, however.
Willie on July 08, 2018:
I bought a drier with a 4 prone cord an had a 3 prone receptical do u need a ground to hook up for the drier to work
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 17, 2018:
Yes. You MUST have either a wire (preferably green) or a ground strap to go from the center terminal to the grounding point - the "green nail". Do not operate the dryer without it - if necessary cut a piece off your old 4 wire cord but do NOT leave that ground jumper off. Home repair shops sell both ground straps and wire.
Butterscotch Goddess on June 17, 2018:
I just changed from 4 prong to 3 prong but I have no green wire to put on the green nail. Is that a problem?
Chris on May 04, 2018:
Very easy to convert. Mine had a green wire screwed down along with the white center wire. I simply created my own double ended green wire, attached the one end along with the white center wire and the other end jumpered over to the frame where the dryer control white ground wire was screwed to.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 23, 2018:
In a 3 prong cord you have it right; the center wire is the neutral and the outer two are the black and red. There is no ground wire at all in the cord, unlike the 4 prong cord that was on the dryer to start with. Instead, the neutral is doing "double duty" after making the changes described in the article.
Sanielle on April 23, 2018:
I'm attempting to change a 4 prong cord to a 3 prong cord on a Kenmore elite dryer. My cords are not color coded. So the middle cord is the white wire and the other 2 are black and red (I'm speaking of the cords that aren't labeled)? Which cord will be the grounding cord?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on April 08, 2018:
The center wire of that flat, 3 wire, cord corresponds to the white wire of a 4 wire cord. The outer two correspond to the black and red in the 4 wire cord (it doesn't matter if they are swapped). There is no green (ground) in the 3 wire cord.
Betty on April 08, 2018:
My dryer has a FOUR WIRE CONNECTION AND THEY ARE COLOR CODED I NEED TO ATTACH A 3 WIRE AND THEY ARE NOT COLOR CODE. HOW DO I KNOW HOW TO CONNECT THE 3 WIRES CORRECTLY. ONE MAN AT LOWES TOLD ME THAT I WOULD HAVE CHANGE THE PLUG AND THE SWITCH AT THE BOX AND THEN I WAS TOLD I DID NOT HAVE TO DO ALL THAT. SO WOULD YOU PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO DO. MY HUSBAND PASSED AWAY AND HE WOUIL DO ALL THIS TYPE OF WORK. THANKS BETTY
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on February 10, 2018:
Hi Kay. I'm assuming the green dryer is attached to the framework of the dryer somewhere - not to one of the terminals the other wires use.
If it is, leave it where it is and add a jumper wire or ground strap between the center terminal and the screw where that green wire attaches to the frame. If it is hanging free, use a screw to attach it to the frame somewhere and add that jumper wire.
Kay on February 10, 2018:
My dryer had 4 plug and the green wire was with the green from plug my 3 plug as 3 wires all gray so I put middle wire in middle and other2 either side what do I do with this green wire from dryer
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 30, 2017:
It's supposed to be a #10 but, yes, a short piece of #12 will work. Or perhaps a nearby home improvement carries ground straps? Amazon does, I know.
Jennifer Jones on October 30, 2017:
I cannot find a #10 grounding wire... will a #12 work?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 04, 2017:
Many (most) dryers have a white wire on the center post that is not from the cord, but rather goes deep into the dryer. You did right in just leaving it there. There will also be the ground wire that goes both there and to the frame of the dryer, plus the center wire of the new cord. Two, probably 3 and maybe even more wires on that center terminal.
Kaycie on October 04, 2017:
We have a 4 prong dryer and need to put on a 3 prong cord. We put on the 3 prong but aren't sure if we did the ground correctly. There was a white wire that we put on middle prong with middle wire. I read your article but am still not sure.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 02, 2017:
Most likely one of the two outside wires is not connected properly. Loose, or left off entirely.
CL on October 02, 2017:
Once you have changed the wire and the dryer runs, is there a reason it will not now heat now when it did before changing the wires?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 01, 2017:
As long as there is a wire from the frame to the center terminal, where the white wire was, it is sufficient.
Maggie on October 01, 2017:
I just went to change my 4 prong plug to a 3 prong and discovered the fourth, green grounding wire was connected in the same spot as the white wire, as opposed to being connected to the dryer frame. There is another green wire connected to the frame, separate from the plug. Will that be sufficient along with the new 3 prong plug?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 24, 2017:
No, but do get it done as soon as you can.
SleePac on September 24, 2017:
Dan - many thanks! If I can't get to it for a few days and the dryer is used (I'm out of town) does it pose a major "code red" situation?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 23, 2017:
I think I just answered this, but...no. Neither the ground strap is to go to the center terminal; it is illegal to ground the neutral wire there, and that's what you have done. Instead, remove the ground strap from that terminal, remove the green wire from there, and put the green wire to where the other end of the ground strap attaches to the frame of the dryer.
SleePac on September 23, 2017:
I just switched from a three prong to a four prong cord.
I left the grounding strap assembled and just doubled up the green and white wires on the middle terminal block position. The grounding strap remains in place and remains connected to the middle position.
Is this a safe and acceptable practice / layout? Unit works great - but would like to know if this is going to be a concern.
Krystal on September 18, 2017:
I thought it might be that the terminal ring I used was too low a voltage or something so I tried without it and still nothing. I'll check with a voltmeter tomorrow and let you know the results. Thank you
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 18, 2017:
Check that the other two connections are snug. If you have a voltmeter, each of the outside two terminals should show 120V to ground or neutral, or 240V between the two.
Krystal on September 18, 2017:
I switched the cord to the 3 prong cord and cut a piece of the ground wire off the 4 prong then added an amp ring terminal to the cut end then attached one end to the ground screw and the other to the neutral but its not working. I get the lights but nothing when I push the button. Any ideas?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 18, 2017:
While it is not really possible to troubleshoot with such limited information, my guess would be a temperature limiting switch. Somewhere in the dryer is a temperature sensor that will shut it off if the temperature goes too high. I don't see it getting that hot in only a few seconds, which would seem to indicate that that sensor or the switch is bad. It's only a guess, though, and could be something else. Have you checked that the discharge tube is clear and not plugged with lint?
Greg on September 18, 2017:
I hoped this would solve my problem , but it didn't --- when I turn my Roper dryer on , it runs for about 10 seconds , then shuts off --- any ideas ?
fourevrjarhead on September 05, 2017:
Thanks Dan. I thought that was the case, just wanted verification.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 05, 2017:
It may be redundant...or it may not. Unless you traced that white wire on the chassis, you can't know for sure it is connected to the neutral. You did right by running another wire - a hundred wouldn't hurt. Won't help, either, but won't hurt.
fourevrjarhead on September 01, 2017:
Dryer has white ground wire to chassis. Is it still necessary to connect ground strap or jumper to neutral post? I did run a jumper wire from neutral to chassis ground. May be redundant,but is it ok? TIA, Don.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 29, 2017:
My apologies. That is a photo of a range outlet, not a dryer outlet. At least it inspired you to ask, though, so maybe it's not all bad. Purchase a range cord and you should be fine.
firstname.lastname@example.org on August 29, 2017:
The wall outlet in your photo has three strait slots (and so does mine). But the recommended three prong cord has an L-shaped ground prong. How is that supposed to fit? Thanks.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 27, 2017:
No problem with the cord; anything 30 amp or greater will do fine as long as it matches or exceeds the breaker.
Chris on August 27, 2017:
Thanks for the info. Is a 50amp range cord okay to use? It's a 40a circuit on a pushamatic panel. New to us house. Thanks!
Ollie on August 25, 2017:
Actually, now that you mentioned that I took a second look. I was only looking at the ones that were clearly marked...the smaller ones that are not so clear are different ...15 and 20 amp ...sorry! I am happy that my socket is ok...I was a bit concerned! Thanks for the reply about the dryer though...I am pretty excited that I did this on my own!! very informative article and great follow up advice. Thank you so much!
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 24, 2017:
You have it correct on the ground strap - you need another wire from the location of the 4 wire ground (removed now) to the center terminal.
I wouldn't worry about the 3 prong range plug. They were once very common and you're right in that it was probably originally a 3 prong. Surprised to hear that all your breakers are 30 amp, though, if that means for lights, regular outlets and all. That's pretty unusual.
Ollie on August 24, 2017:
Dan, at the risk of being repetitive,(for which I apologise), I am also rplacing a four pin with a three pin plug.....I am just a little bit fuzzy on the ground strap thing. have all wires in place, including the extra white wire mentioned before that is already going to the middle terminal to somewhere in the control panel I am guessing....so I need to put a THIRD wire or strap into the middle terminal and over to where the original green one was ? Also, my mobile home originally had a gas dryer and when I asked about putting in an electric one, the manager put in a three pin socket....am I reading correctly that this is not safe? Everything in my breaker box is 30 AMP. I wondered if it originally had a three pin and the previous owners just chose to use gas? My washer plug is three pin. Just a bit confused.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 23, 2017:
It is fine as long as the ground strap does not contact the screws where the other wires are terminated. Even a piece of #10 wire will do; there is no necessity to purchase a true ground strap.
Liz90 on August 23, 2017:
Hi, will any ground strap suffice? The neutral and ground are a few inches from each other so I need something long. I found one on Amazon that may do the trick. Is it ok for the material between the ends of a ground strap to "hang loose" inside the panel?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 22, 2017:
Because there is no ground available in the outlet box. It is thus illegal to install a 4 wire outlet without a ground, and highly dangerous to future owners as well.
Or, if it is currently a 4 wire outlet and you need a 3 wire, it still cannot be done as every outlet must have a ground wire to it and the 3 wire outlet has nowhere to put one.
In both cases, then, it is illegal to install the outlet.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 22, 2017:
Yes, leave the green/yellow wire where it is. Ground straps are available from Amazon (search there for "ground strap" and short pieces of wire are usually available at home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowes.
Jennifer on August 22, 2017:
Just curious why you are telling people to change the cord when they should instead change the outlet to a 4-prong.
Vivian on August 20, 2017:
I've read your instructions and followed the steps. I noticed when I removed the 4 prong plug. There was a green and yellow wire at the neutral/center terminal. Do I leave there?
Also where can I find a ground strap or #10 wire. I looked online but I only get long pieces of wire but without the head to connect.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 09, 2017:
I'm not going to be much help, I'm afraid. You might try taking the front (or back, depending on model) off and see if anything inside has come apart. It sounds like moving that air filter while running is the culprit, but I certainly can't guarantee that. If it ran, I'd say you made the changeover on the cord correctly.
Angelina on August 09, 2017:
I got a dryer that had a four wire plug and i changed it to a three wire cause my wall was three. Plugged it in, turned it on and it ran great. While it was still running, i pulled out the lint filter and alot of stuff blew out then it shut off. I can turn the timer and push button and itll hmmm but it wont turn or heat. I dont know what to do next.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 06, 2017:
The panel cover is acceptable if there is nowhere else. Anywhere on the dryer frame is fine, including the access panel cover. It isn't as good a ground, but acceptable.
Jerry on August 06, 2017:
Just converted a 3 wire dryer plug to a 4 wire. The new cord has a green ground wire that was not present with the old 3 wire cord. Where does the green wire hook to? Seems to be two green screws on back of dryer electrical access panel. I assume these are both grounds?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 02, 2017:
Sounds like you have a range, or maybe a welder, outlet instead of a dryer. Either one is likely to be a 50 amp, meaning the 30 amp dryer will not be adequately protected unless the breaker is changed to a 30 amp breaker.
But the outlet can be changed to a 4 wire, 30 amp, dryer outlet without a problem; these are readily available at Amazon or any home improvement store.
Olivia on August 02, 2017:
Hi I have a quick question. My outlet is 4 prongs and so is my dryer, however my dryers bottom prong is an L shape but my outlet is just straight down vertical. Please let me know what I can do about this.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 31, 2017:
Sounds like you have an older 10-50R outlet in the wall, for a range, and it is likely on a 50 amp breaker. If it is on a 30 amp breaker it could be changed to the 10-30R that your 10-30P cord requires. Or you might be able to purchase an older 3-wire range cord to put on the dryer - they are available at Amazon and will we wired as indicated in the article. Be aware that a 50 amp breaker will not protect a 30 amp dryer adequately.
Searching Amazon, I found no adapters but they might be available elsewhere.
MikeCin AZ on July 30, 2017:
I bought a used dryer and it is 4 prong, however my outlet is 3 straight prong, the middle not being the L shaped one. My place is older (late 80's). I bought a new 3 prong power cord with the L shape but of course it won't fit. Is there an adapter for the new L style cord to fit into the straight prong outlet or replace the outlet itself?
Scordon731 on July 15, 2017:
This is a lot of info to take in
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 04, 2017:
Yes, the neutral is connected to ground...in your panel box. Under other circumstances using the neutral in a device (such as a range or outlet) is forbidden, but in the specific case of a home dryer is it acceptable and you have done it correctly.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on July 04, 2017:
Wrapping it around the screw, in a clockwise direction, and then putting the nut on will do fine. If you wrap it the other direction it tends to come apart and come off the screw.
Caroline on July 03, 2017:
Hi! I think I understand everything, but how to get a grounding wire. The other wires I am attaching (that come with the cord) have a tab to screw into the bolt. The wiring I see sold are just normal bald wire tipped. Do I just wrap the green wire I buy to the dryer, where the 4-prong green one was and then to the central white cord, by twisting it? or just pinching it? or do I need to find a green wire with the same type of tabs? where can I buy that?
Don on July 01, 2017:
My conversion of a 4 prong to a 3 prong involved an older, used dryer. No grounding strap visible, but there was a green ground wire attached to dryer frame. I do not know where that green wire leads to. When I installed the 3 prong, I followed your advice and connected a jumper wire from the neutral connection of the dryer to green ground wire at frame. Is this correct? I thought I read somewhere that if that green ground wire is already connecting to the neutral the new jumper might cause a problem. Should I be worried?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 17, 2017:
You can do that. If you cut it long (for possible future use in changing back) I suggest you put a wire nut on the end of it, just to make sure that it doesn't move around and contact one of the other wires. Or you could cut it very short, but that means it cannot be used in the future.
Shawna p on June 13, 2017:
I don't have the tools to remove the nut for this green wire (which is connected to the old 4 prong cord), but the white one is connected to the terminal in the middle. could i just cut the green wire and continue with the install of the 3 prong cord?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 07, 2017:
If your dryer already has a ground wire going to the center post there is no need to add another. From your description it is what you have, and no further action need be taken. Redundant grounds can never hurt, but seldom add much, either - putting two wires where one will do fine is just such a case.
azcat1990 on June 07, 2017:
With the old 4-wire plug, both the green and the white wires are connected to the center post screw. Atop the posts are the internal dryer wires (slotted over the ends). From the top of the center post a white white splits, and one end goes to ground screw.
So when I remove the 4-wire plug, I am not detaching the green wire from a ground (directly at least), and there remains a white wire to ground from internal.
After adding the 3-wire plug, do you still suggest running a green/ground from center post screw to ground? Or is this redundant since there would then be two such connections.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 04, 2017:
@SamB A 3 wire range cord has three straight prongs and should fit. It is likely, however, that the breaker is a 50A; a dryer really should be plugged into a 30 Amp circuit.
If there is a neutral and 2 hot wires in the outlet, it could be changed to a regular 3 wire outlet. These are not common, but can still be found at Amazon.
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 04, 2017:
@lpHeisel: It is possible that you have not connected the center wire properly, or just have a bad connection in one of the three wires. You might double check that the connections are proper and tight, but outside that it does sound like a simple lack of power. If you have a volt meter, the voltage between either of the outside wires and the center should be 120V, with the voltage between the outside wires being 240V
SamB on June 04, 2017:
I am having a problem similar to something someone else posted. The outlet on the wall is a 3 prong, however all of them are straight (No L shape). I now see even the new cord i got says range cord. I didn't notice at the time, as the gentleman at the store said it would work fine when I told him what I was doing. Is there a workaround for this at all?
LPHeisel on June 04, 2017:
Hi Dan, I used your article to hook up a dryer in a rental unit that my brother moved to. The dryer is new, 4 prong, we switch to 3 prong. The dryer won't start. It worked fine the other day, we moved it a couple hundred miles to his new place, changed out the plug and it won't turn on. The breaker is engaged, etc. I can only conclude that the outlet has no power getting to it. We have asked the landlord to come fix and are waiting for them to fix it. I do not believe it is the wiring or the pigtail that is not working. My questions are - could it be the wiring that isn't allowing it to get power? Is it most likely the outlet actually has no power?
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 31, 2017:
Michael, the only suggestion I can offer is to make very sure the normal cord pictured in the article will not work. That is, as you say, a NEMA 10-30P and should work. Are you absolutely positive that the pictures aren't causing confusion? The are typically shown looking down onto the prongs of the plug, whereas the outlet is shown exactly the opposite. The pictures of the plug will thus be backwards from the picture (or view) of the outlet.
You might check with the apartment management or other tenants as well. If it really IS a very old outlet you may have to have it replaced, and by a licensed electrician.
Michael on May 31, 2017:
I just moved into an older apartment. I bought a new Samsung washer and dryer set. The washer hooked up great but the dryer couldn't get set up because of the strange 3 prog plug. It looks similar but the L shaped prong is reversed? I have been researching and it resembles a NEMA 10-30r plug. I'm having trouble finding a cord however. I can't seem to find a cord to go with my plug. Do you have any suggestions? Should I just have an electrician come and rewire the wall plug?
Thanks in advance.
Iris M Huss on May 17, 2017:
of course I'd have to mix those two terms up thanks for the help the tutorial was great