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How to Change a 4-Prong Dryer Cord and Plug to a 3-Prong

Updated on October 6, 2017
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Dan has been a licensed, journey-level electrician for some 17 years. He has extensive experience in most areas of the electrical trade.

My New Home Needs a Dryer Plug Adapter

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.

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. 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 To 4 Prong Dryer Cord And Plug.

If Your Wall Plug Looks Like This...

Example three-prong dryer plug receptacle
Example three-prong dryer plug receptacle

But the Cord on Your Dryer Looks Like This...

Example four-prong dryer cord
Example four-prong dryer cord

You Need to Buy a Cord That Looks Like This...

Example three-prong dryer cord
Example three-prong dryer cord

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. 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.

The four-pronged cord has been loosened from the dryer wall and is ready to be disconnected from the terminals.  Pay particular attention to where the white and green wires go.
The four-pronged cord has been loosened from the dryer wall and is ready to be disconnected from the terminals. Pay particular attention to where the white and green wires go.

Remove each wire from the screw or stud holding it, making sure to save all nuts or screws.

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!

Here the four wires have been removed and a metal ground strap installed between the dryer frame and the white wire.  You can use a #10 wire instead of a strap.
Here the four wires have been removed and a metal ground strap installed between the dryer frame and the white wire. You can use a #10 wire instead of a strap.

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.

What the three-wire connection will look like, including a metal ground strap (circled) between the dryer frame and the white wire.  You can use a #10 wire instead of a strap.
What the three-wire connection will look like, including a metal ground strap (circled) between the dryer frame and the white wire. You can use a #10 wire instead of a strap.

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 and at a minimum clean out the vent hose and the vent opening outside your home. 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.

© 2011 Dan Harmon

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    • wilderness profile image
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      Dan Harmon 2 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Kaycie 2 weeks ago

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 3 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      Most likely one of the two outside wires is not connected properly. Loose, or left off entirely.

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      CL 3 weeks ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 3 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      As long as there is a wire from the frame to the center terminal, where the white wire was, it is sufficient.

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      Maggie 3 weeks ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 4 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      No, but do get it done as soon as you can.

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      SleePac 4 weeks ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 4 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      SleePac 4 weeks ago

      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.

      Thanks!!

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      Krystal 4 weeks ago

      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

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      Dan Harmon 4 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Krystal 4 weeks ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 5 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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?

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      Greg 5 weeks ago

      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 ?

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      fourevrjarhead 6 weeks ago

      Thanks Dan. I thought that was the case, just wanted verification.

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      Dan Harmon 6 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      fourevrjarhead 7 weeks ago

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 7 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      rmcneely57@gmail.com 7 weeks ago

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 8 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      No problem with the cord; anything 30 amp or greater will do fine as long as it matches or exceeds the breaker.

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      Chris 8 weeks ago

      Hey Dan

      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!

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      Ollie 8 weeks ago

      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!

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      Dan Harmon 8 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Ollie 2 months ago

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Liz90 2 months ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Jennifer 2 months ago

      Just curious why you are telling people to change the cord when they should instead change the outlet to a 4-prong.

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      Vivian 2 months ago

      Hello

      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.

      Thank you

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Angelina 2 months ago

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Jerry 2 months ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Olivia 2 months ago

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      MikeCin AZ 2 months ago

      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?

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      Scordon731 3 months ago

      This is a lot of info to take in

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      Dan Harmon 3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Dan Harmon 3 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Caroline 3 months ago

      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?

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      Don 3 months ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      Shawna p 4 months ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

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      azcat1990 4 months ago

      Hi Dan,

      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.

      Thanks,

      G.

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      Dan Harmon 4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @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.

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      Dan Harmon 4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @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

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      SamB 4 months ago

      Dan,

      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?

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      LPHeisel 4 months ago

      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?

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      Dan Harmon 4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

      Good Luck!

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      Michael 4 months ago

      dear Dan,

      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.

      Michael

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      Iris M Huss 5 months ago

      of course I'd have to mix those two terms up thanks for the help the tutorial was great

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      Dan Harmon 5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      That is correct. The strap, or ground jumper wire, will go from the spot where the green wire (ground) used to be attached and to the center connection with the center wire (neutral, not ground).

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      Iris M Huss 5 months ago

      I just did this in my new used dryer and if I read everything correctly on a dryer set up for a 4prong cord I attach the strap to the spot for the green wire and connect it to my middle ground wire correct?

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      Dan Harmon 5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Best guess is a poor connection one of the outside two wires. The center, neutral, is OK or the lights wouldn't work. Could you have inadvertently removed or knocked off one of the wires to those outside posts that go into the dryer? Was never a part of the old cord?

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      Pri 5 months ago

      Hi I did all the steps and my dryer will not turn on. The light inside is working but it won't dry. Do you think you know why?

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      Dan Harmon 5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Amazon sells them - simply search for "ground strap". Or a piece of #10 wire from a home repair shop like Home Depot, perhaps 2 feet long. Auto parts stores will have the wire as well, and possibly a regular ground strap.

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      AJ 5 months ago

      Hey Mr. Harmon,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write this.

      I am attempting to take on this project myself... Where can I purchase the strap for the ground?

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      Annie 5 months ago

      Wow,that was fast! So much for your speed and expertise. Off to the garage I go

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      Dan Harmon 5 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, it makes sense. Any wires in the dryer, except for those that are the cord, are to be left alone. The white wires you reference could be supplying a neutral to the control electronics, the motor or some other function - if so they must be connected to the neutral on the cord in order to function. That center post could well have a couple of wires going inside the dryer, the center wire of the new cord and a ground strap or jumper going to the frame of the dryer.

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      Annie 5 months ago

      Hi Dan! I'm changing my four prong dryer to a three prong. Been reading all the questions and responses. You're very thorough and make this very easy to understand. I understand how and why to attach the ground when using a three wire cord. One thing I didn't see in all the Q&A's about this subject was The dryer I am attaching the three prong to has it's own white wire that doubles up on the middle post with the white wire on the cord. Do I put that back in the middle doubling up again with the three wired cord and one end of the ground under both of them in the middle as you instructed ? Does this make sense ?

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      Dan Harmon 6 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You are installing an electric dryer in a house without any plug at all, if I'm understanding it correctly. You will need a 30 amp, 240 volt circuit with a neutral and ground - this will require 10-3 wire. The old 3 wire outlet is not acceptable per code as it has no ground and cannot be used - I don't believe they are even available for purchase anymore. No electrician should ever install such an outlet.

      In addition, I'm assuming that your dryer is set up for a 3 prong plug (thus the question); this will have to be changed to a 4 prong plug to match the new (required) outlet.

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      Nelson 6 months ago

      I own a dryer with 3 prong plug and I just bought a house that's set up for a gas dryer. My question is when my electrician runs new wiring, is it necessary to use 10-3 wiring or can 10-2 wiring still safely be used (and up to code)?

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Jason:

      If you have a short piece of 12 gauge, use it. But if you're going to buy some, buy 10 gauge.

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      Jason 7 months ago

      Do I have to use 10 gauge wire for the jumper? 12 gauge is not sufficient?

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      Ben 7 months ago

      Thank you!

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      Mike 7 months ago

      Great info, thank you for posting this how-to. Our new, 4-wire dryer came with a jumper from the neutral lug to the frame already installed so all we had to do was install the 3-wire cord. Thanks again!

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi, Jill:

      I would use them. No, it isn't strictly legal, but it will be quite safe. Between being short (as opposed to a hundred feet long) and being a single wire (as opposed to being a part of a cable), it will be fine.

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      Jill R Spriggs 7 months ago

      Hi Dan! I went to HD for my ground fix and they sell a small set of ground wires with screws but it's 12 gauge instead of 10...will this be OK?

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Angela:

      The instructions given here will work with any 30 amp dryer intended for use in the US. That is the standard dryer for residential use.

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      Angela 7 months ago

      How can you put a 3 wire cord on a 4 wire cosley dryer

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi, Kim:

      Sounds like the wires are either put on wrong or are left loose. Check that the white (or center) wire on the cord is going to the center terminal and that all connections are tight.

      Are you positive that the circuit breaker is on? Turn it off and then back on to verify.

      It is also possible, though quite unlikely, that the new cord is defective; a volt meter will tell you if there is voltage at each of the outside two terminals. There should be 120 volts between each one and the ground and 240 volts between the two terminals. Take extreme caution here - 240 volts can be deadly!

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      Kim 7 months ago

      I switched a four prong cord to a 3 prong and NOTHING! I'm stressed out. what am I doing wrong? I thought I could buy an adapter.

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Melissa:

      Your extra green wire is almost certainly a ground. Did it go to the old green wire or is it connected to the frame of the dryer or perhaps to the control panel, grounding that assembly? If so it should be connected to the white wire now - all the grounds will go there.

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      Melissa Tafoya 7 months ago

      Dan, this info is so helpful...thank you!

      One question. We have an extra green wire, that is the ground, can I connect this with the white middle white one? Still confused about it.

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      Dan Harmon 8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      It is highly unusual to see a white wire attached to the frame of a dryer.

      But without knowing where the OTHER end of that white wire goes, I would not remove it from the frame and would most definitely not assume that taking it off of the frame would provide a reasonable ground when re-attaching it to the center post.

      So no, please leave it where it is an add a ground. Doing what you suggest could easily remove any possibility of the dryer having any form of ground at all.

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      Vicki 8 months ago

      My dryer has the green ground wire attached to the body of the dryer. In addition there is also a white wire attached to the same place. Can I attach that white wire to the center position where I'm attaching the center wire of the new cord? Will that serve as a ground so I don't have to go get the jumper wire you refer to? Thanks.

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      Dan Harmon 8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Unlikely; most of the time those are bolts, cemented or otherwise held in the terminal block.

      Room can indeed be a problem. One possible solution is to purchase a terminal end for the green wire (preferable), something like what you likely have on the new cord. A flat terminal end should require less room on the stud.

      Another would be to remove the existing green wire, install a short piece of #10 green wire in it's place and then splice the original, the new short piece and the one from the dryer frame all into a wire nut.

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      Maqkdaddy86 8 months ago

      Thank you for your advice. One final question, when attempting to attach the #10 grounding wire to center terminal I had an issue with there being room now that there are three wires going to the center. the green from the internal of dryer, the middle from the new cord, and the grounding wire. is this fix as simple as buying a new longer screw?

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      Dan Harmon 8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Maqkdaddy86 It sounds as if someone had a 3 wire cord on the dryer at one time and changed it to a 4 wire. If so, that green wire is going to the frame somewhere on the dryer.

      But in any case, leave it on the center terminal. If you cannot verify that the other end goes to the frame of the dryer, add another one to make sure that frame is grounded as well as it can be with a 3 wire cored. Multiple, redundant, grounds will hurt nothing; it is only if there is NO ground that a danger exists.

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      Maqkdaddy86 8 months ago

      when attempting to change to a 3 prong cord I noticed a green wire attached to the neutral/center hub that the white wire from the 4 prong cord was attached to. is this a ground wire that I can simply attach to the grounding screw on the dryer frame or do I need to leave that in the center, put the center wire on the new cord on the center and attach a separate grounding wire from the center terminal and to the dryer frame?

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      Lisa 9 months ago

      BINGO! Thank you sooo very much. Your step-by-step instructions were simple and easy to follow.

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      Dan Harmon 9 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      First guess is that by plugging in the cord with bare wires exposed you have tripped the breaker. Turn it off and then back on, resetting it.

      If that doesn't work, follow the directions here (you didn't say how they differ from what Ace Hardware advised) and double check that none of the wires from the terminals that go out into the dryer have come off. You should have no problems.

      (Yes, the NEMA 10-30R outlet is fine.)

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      Ashley Myers 9 months ago

      We are replacing a four prong with a three prong. We followed directions given to us at Ace Hardeare that were very close to what you recommend here. Before we started we plugged in the plug to make sure it fit and the three wires sparked a bit. we attached the wires as instructed but the dryer isn't working... do you think plugging the cord in first and the spark resulted in a malfunction with the cord? Or do you thing something else happened? The outlet in our house is called a NEMA 10-30R... is this not suitable for a dryer is that why it may not have worked? Thank you!

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      ironmanth 9 months ago

      Dan, Thanks and blessings to you for your assistance on switching out a 4 prong for a 3 prong plug on my dryer! Superman had Kryptonite, I have electricity (or even most mechanical things and such!). You made the conversion very easy to follow, and gave this aging artsy non-believer the confidence that he could do it himself. I've always said, I wished I had not taken that extra art class 45 years ago, and instead had opted for the "required" shop class! Regardless, it is never too late to learn anything! Can't tell you how satisfying it feels to DIY!

      I carefully read all the comments supplied, and realized that none of us knows everything, and we are all here to learn, and to teach. We are all in the same boat in life, which is short, and wonderful!

      Again, sir, many thanks and blessings to you on this Inauguration Day. Carpe diem, Dan. Go USA!

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      Dan Harmon 9 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Lisa. The new dryer does not have the connection between those green wires and the white wire from the cord. They used to connect to the green wire on the cord, but that either was never installed or has been taken off. They are used to ground the internal components, and the frame, of the dryer.

      What you now need is either a ground strap or another green wire going from those existing green wires to the white wire of the new 3 wire cord you are installing. You could simple add another green wire from the termination point for the green wire of the 4 wire cord (which you are not using) to the white wire termination point, or you can add a green wire from that same white wire termination point to the frame of the dryer. The firs is likely simpler and easier.

      Hope that answers your question.

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      Lisa 9 months ago

      I am connecting a three prong cord onto a newer model dryer. The new one has two green wires, one of which I need to connect to the grounding strap? It is ok to bend the grounding strap to connect to the frame as the configuration doesn't allow flexibility? Does the grounding strap go between the wires and the frame? What is the purpose of two green wires on the newer model?

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      sanford 9 months ago

      Thank you for the quick response. You are a Godsend!

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      Dan Harmon 9 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Sanford: It is likely not acceptable to ground the dryer frame to the cold water pipe. The reason I say that is that so many homes today do not have metal piping, but plastic. Even if the last few inches, or even feet, are metal, there is still no adequate ground through the piping system.

      You are being told this by a layman that believes any and all water lines make a good ground - someone who has just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Please follow the instructions in the article - I would not even do both as that will supply an additional grounding to the already grounded conductor (the neutral) and could cause problems in and of itself in a fault condition elsewhere in the home.

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      Sanford 9 months ago

      I was told by a seemingly knowledgeable salesperson that I should run the ground wire from the dryer to ground it to the cold water line as opposed to jumping as shown in the photos. Is either acceptable or would doing both be overkill?

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I would suspect that the white wire has been swapped with a colored one. Please verify that the white wire is on the center terminal (where the white wire from the original cord was) with the colored wires on the outside two terminals. And that the green wire is properly installed between the center terminal and the frame of the dryer.

      It is also possible that one of the wires that go the the inside of the dryer, not part of the cord, has been dislodged. Check for that as well.

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      Kai 10 months ago

      We changed from a 4 prong to a 3, and now the drier runs, but does not heat. We swapped out the element to the same effect. Is there something we could be missing?

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, go back and add that green wire (or white, as you wish, although green is preferable). The white one very likely goes up into the dryer and to the controls, without ever hitting the ground. The dryer will work this way just fine...until something goes wrong inside and energizes the frame and body of the machine, providing a way to shock the user. Adding the green wire eliminates this possibility and is why it is there.

      So add that green wire from the center post to where the green wire was attached originally. It is for safety, not operation, and needs to be there whether the dryer works well or not.

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      floridaboyinco 10 months ago

      when I unscrewed the 4 wire harness, the white center post already had another white wire going into the top panel of the dryer controls. I assumed it connected to the frame but cannot verify so I connected the three wire harness as instructed but without adding a third white wire to the center post. plugged it in and tested the dryer and it works should I ut the go back and put a third white wire to the center post and then to the spot on the frame where the green wire was attached? the dryer is a two year old whirlpool accudry

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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm only counting three wires to the center bolt: one from the cord, one going into the dryer and the new ground wire you are installing. Do you mean that there is a second white wire going into the dryer?

      Either way, just leave it alone and put your new white and the green ground to the center bolt. It is quite possible that the extra wjote wire there is being used to power the electronics and controls of the dryer.

      The only ones you want to fool with are the new wires you are adding - black, red, white and green - and the ones that are the old cord. Anything else, just leave where they are.

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      Ashton 11 months ago

      This page has been super helpful with this project, I just seem to have run into an obstacle. I'm changing my dryer from a 4-prong to 3-prong, and after removing the cover from the back of the dryer I see it has an extra white wire. The extra wire is connected to the center bolt, along with the white wire from the power cord. It dissappears into the dryer after that, along with the three usual wires. Do I leave it alone, and just go ahead and connect my new cord, as well as the new #10 grounding wire? That would make a total of 4 wires running to and from the center bolt, will it be okay?

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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes. Any wire that is 10 gauge or larger will work fine. You could even use a colored wire and strip the insulation off of it, leaving it bare.

      You might want to keep that cord, though, in case you change back in the future. I've changed dryer cords 3 times now!

      Good to here that you found it useful, and glad I could be of help.