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

Updated on August 31, 2016
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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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      mago 4 years ago

      problem later the frame may become energized and present a huge shock hazard"?

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      Nancy Mago 4 years ago

      I know I have to put a short wire or a ground strap will there be still a problem like u said above "problem later the frame may become energized and present a huge shock hazard"?

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      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      @ Nancy Mago; I'm going to assume that you are replacing a 4 wire cord & plug with a 3 wire setup; that your outlet has 3 wires.

      In that case you will have removed the green wire from the old, 4 wire cord and will not have one in the new, 3 wire cord. That means that your dryer has no ground

      The solution is to connect the center wire, the "neutral", to the frame of the dryer with a short wire or ground strap. That neutral wire (when the jumper or ground strap is added) serves as a ground, and prevents the dryer from ever becoming energized and presenting a shock hazard.

      The hazard is only present when a three wire cord is used WITHOUT the short jumper wire or ground strap and is why that strap is so important.

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      Dan Harmon 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      @Mrs. Phillips: I had to remove your comment because of the eBay link to a homemade dryer cord adapter. That link will soon be worthless as the item is sold and disappears from eBay. In addition, as an electrician myself I am not comfortable allowing advertising on this article for homemade electrical items.

      I will say, however, that it is possible to make such an adapter, and someone has obviously done just that. It is not factory, and it is very doubtful that the maker has liability insurance to cover them in case it is poor workmanship, but that would be your call as a consumer.

      Your tanning bed, however, is another matter. The NEC code permits a change in cord as shown in this article for ranges and dryers ONLY - not for tanning beds. The level of shock protection is decreased a small amount if a 4 wire cord is not used, but considering the number of older homes with only a 3 wire receptacle it is an acceptable risk. Your tanning bed is not considered similar to a dryer and work arounds to electrical safety are not permitted.

      If you are a private homeowner that is using a tanning bed, using such an adapter is of course up to you. If you are a commercial business, selling the use of those tanning beds, you might want to consider the results of a patron being shocked or injured if you have intentionally bypassed the electrical code required of all commercial buildings. If you are a business, I would highly encourage you to hire a licensed electrician to provide the proper receptacle for the tanning bed. The liability issues of ignoring legal requirements for electrical appliances in a commercial business are very high.

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      Stefanie 22 months ago

      I can't get one of the nuts off the bolt to disconnect the red wire....any suggestions?

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      Dan Harmon 22 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Best bet is either a nut driver or a socket. If that doesn't work and the nut absolutely will not come off, the wire can be cut a few inches from the nut and the new cord spliced to it with a wire nut. Make sure there is plenty of wire to put a wire nut on, though - don't cut it just an inch or two from the nut.

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      Don Wickstrom 19 months ago

      Thank You. This is what I needed to know. Thank you

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      Fred 14 months ago

      Thank you very much for the info, i bought a washer and dryer from a fine gentleman because the ones i had was not working properly but i had to either 1. change the cord or 2. get an adapter because the connection on the dryer were different i was totally confused.

      I tell you i just googled and found your info and BAM i am a happy man. I just removed the cord from the old dryer and installed on the new one by following the steps you provided.

      Thank You very much and GOD BLESS.

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      Dan Harmon 14 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You are certainly more than welcome. It's always nice when I hear that I've been able to help someone out. Thanks for the note.

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      Alex 13 months ago

      Your instructions refer to red and green wires on 3 prong cord, but they are all gray

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      Dan Harmon 13 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Most 3 wire cords are gray. The center one is the neutral, corresponding to the white wire. The outside two are the two hot wires, corresponding to black and red, and are interchangeable.

      This is explained in the section above on installing the three wire cord, along with where to put them in the dryer.

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      John a. 13 months ago

      Thanks you. Well written and aided my project.

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      Jessie H 13 months ago

      I have a quick question. We just moved and our wall outlet is 3prong and looks like your first photo (3 straight holes), but our dryer plug looks like your 3rd photo (2 straight holes and an Lshaped hole). Do you have any suggestions? I haven't been able to find a replacement plug with the 3 straight prongs for sale anywhere. Thank you!

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      Dan Harmon 13 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      That actually sounds like an older style range cord for a cooking range. If so, it is likely to have a 50 amp breaker and is not really suitable for a dryer. I'd check the breaker size for that outlet and see. If it's a 30 amp, the outlet could be changed, though it would probably have to be the old 3 wire style if you can find one.

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      lost in tennessee 11 months ago

      Dryer cord installed easily. But dryer got hot and had to be unplugged! Did I miss something.

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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Possibly. I'd recheck your connections and make sure they are all correct and tight. I'd also check the vent to make sure it is open and clear; this is more likely than mis-wiring if you were careful.

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      awillyson 11 months ago

      i have a dryer that has 4 prongs. I purchased a wall receptacle to match.. There are only three wires going to the wall receptacle. Can I put a jump wire from the ground to the neutral at the wall receptacle?

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      Dan Harmon 11 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      No. You should replace the 4 wire cord with a 3 wire. While it is acceptable to accomplish this inside the dryer, it is not legal or reasonable to do the same thing in a wall receptacle; that leaves the r-d. A very large no-no as in the future users will assume that it is properly wired with a ground.

      While code and laws allow the neutral to be grounded to the frame of a dryer when there is no proper ground available, it does NOT allow the use of a grounded receptacle, of any type, to use the neutral as a ground.

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      Kristin 10 months ago

      We switched out the cords, but now, even though the dryer gets hot, the clothes are drying. I've checked the venting and everything. It is always humid in the machine. Do we do something wrong?

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      If the tub is tumbling and it is getting hot, it is wired correctly. About the only options left are the venting and the lint screen. Is the outdoor vent cap opening? Is the lint screen clean? No kinks in the vent tube?

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      Andrea 10 months ago

      Hello, if my dryer has a green (green and yellow) strap after I remove the four prong cord, do I still need to add another ground when I install the three prong cord? There were two green cords attached to the frame and green and yellow one seems permanent. It's an old Roper dryer.

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Normally I would say that there could not be a green strap from the frame to the neutral on a 4 wire dryer. You indicate it is an old dryer, though, so I would have to guess that it came with a 3 wire cord and someone in the past installed the 4 wire on it but did it incorrectly.

      If that is the case, then no, there is no reason to add another ground. Only one is needed, from frame to neutral, when replacing a 4 wire cord with a 3 wire. Do take care, though, to be absolutely certain that there is a ground wire or strap between the frame and the neutral wire.

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      Andrea. 10 months ago

      Thank you! Apparently, the green and yellow cord is called a chassis ground like the first one in this linked video at 1:56 - 2:00 minutes in. You'll see the green and yellow cord in the upper left on screen. What I'm trying to figure is is that all I need with the three prong cord? Other video instructions don't mention the ground like you do, so I just want to be certain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WItdpvBddBA

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      First, the video you linked to shows attaching the cord ground to the neutral of a 4 wire cable, but not the chassis. In this configuration there is no chassis ground at all. The connection between neutral and ground is why the 4 wire cord is mandated to be used where possible and the connection being shown should never be done. What has been accomplished is to negate the usefulness of the ground wire entirely while at the same time leaving the chassis of the dryer without any ground at all and subject to carrying a high voltage which can then be transmitted to anyone touching the dryer. To his credit, the video DOES mention that it is not the correct way to do it, but it should never have been shown at all.

      But 3 wire cords do not HAVE a ground, and neither does the plug it goes to in the wall. In this case it is then necessary to get that neutral not only to the terminal on the terminal block but also to the chassis of the dryer - this is accomplished by either a ground wire or ground strap that goes from the terminal where the neutral is to the chassis of the dryer.

      The reasoning behind this change in the National Electric Code is beyond the scope of this article to go into, but be assured there are good reasons for separating the ground and neutral whenever possible. Were it a simple fix to require all dryers to have a dedicated ground it would be done, but that would also require that the home be re-wired so there is a ground in the wall plug and that's neither cheap nor easy. Thus the work around allowed, that the neutral may serve as a chassis ground when there is no ground available. Not as safe, but acceptable under the circumstances.

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      Andrea. 10 months ago

      Okay. Thank you for taking the time to explain. I appreciate it.

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      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You are more than welcome, and thanks for stopping by.

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      Dale 9 months ago

      Hi! Okay first off I have already switched chords and apparently my supposed self made electrician buddy forgot to mention the whole grounding thing. That will be fixed in the morning. The dryer runs fine but is not heating. Would that be the cause? Should I recheck the wiring. It's a samsung

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      Tenlely 9 months ago

      My outlet is a three prong (2 straight holes and an Lshaped hole). My dryer is a 4 prong. I want to put a cable on my machine that will fit the outlet. Would the 3 prong (2 straight holes and an Lshaped hole) work with the 4 prong dryer?

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      Salas 8 months ago

      Great information and so easily explained. Thank you.

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      Dan Harmon 8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, recheck the wiring. It is possible that the neutral is not being used correctly.

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      Dan Harmon 8 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes. Follow the directions to install the new cord.

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      Kafi 8 months ago

      Wow, great article! Thank you

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      Yvonne 8 months ago

      Hi. I just changed a 4 prong dryer to a 3 prong. I'm so confused about this grounding wire. The 4 prong had a green wire that literally was screwed to the dryer wall. Grounding it I guess. There's a white wire that came from the dryer and was screwed WITH the middle neutral wire before. Do I do that again? Also what do I use as a grounding wire? I've Googled and watched videos. One of them had that white wire I spoke of before screwed where the green wire was when there were 4 for the 4 prong. Does that make sense? I'm doing this for my mom who just moved into this older house. I need to make sure I'm doing this right.

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      Naomi 7 months ago

      Hi, I live overseas and the power voltage here is 220v. My LG Dryer is a 120v. What are the chances for switching it to a 22ov? Is it worth the hassle?

      Thanks!

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Hi Yvonne:

      When replacing a 4 wire cord with a new 3 wire, the 3 wire cord has no ground wire. Instead, a new wire must be placed from the white wire to the dryer wall. Both the white and the new ground attach to the middle terminal.

      Naomi: I'm sorry, there is zero chance of switching it to 220V. If that is all that is available you will have to buy a new dryer, but isn't there a 120v plug nearby for the washer?

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      Julia 7 months ago

      I disconnected the old cord and there appears to already be a grounding thing like appears in your pictures. However, my green cord wasn't connected where that is. It was connected to the actual back of the dryer above the words "ground screw" with just a nut. Is it safe to say that if it already has that metal thing like your picture that is is grounded? Do I just ignore where my green cord was attached?

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      If there is a connection between the frame and the white wire then it is grounded. Make sure that the "metal thing" goes from the white wire to the metal frame of the dryer and you're good to go. It is possible that it was removed from the frame long ago to put a 4 wire cord on, so be sure and check where it goes to. It is also possible that someone put a 4 wire cord on without disconnecting it.

      If you are unsure where it goes, you can put another ground wire between the white wire and the ground where the old ground went - multiple grounds will not hurt anything.

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      JP 7 months ago

      I'm trying to install a 120V/240V electric only dryer in place of a gas dryer. I know, just go buy another gas dryer ... not that simple. I am assuming that I need a 3-wire cord, but then where does the ground wire connect to? I purchased a standard cord, but think I need a 3-wire as the paperwork indicates needing two hots. Can I just run a jumper from the red hot to the neutral though? Thanks!!!

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      Dan Harmon 7 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I'm assuming you have a new dryer and an old, 3-wire 240 volt outlet in the wall. Do NOT jump from either red or black to the neutral white. That will only blow the breaker every time it is plugged in.

      You must install a jumper between the neutral wire connection in the dryer and the frame of the dryer if there isn't one already (and there should not be if it is a new dryer) as shown in the article. There is no ground wire in a 3 wire cord and that jumper between frame and neutral becomes the only ground.

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      GS 6 months ago

      I just had a quick question. So the dryers with 4 prongs don't use more electricity than the ones with 3 prongs? What are the differences? Thank you!

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      Dan Harmon 6 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      The dryer itself is identical and uses exactly the same amount of power. The difference is solely in how the dryer is grounded for safety: the 4 prong outlet and cord is slightly safer.

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      Deanna 4 months ago

      Hi! This information is very helpful. We went to Home Depot and they said the same thing as you. We weren't sure and went to Ace. Ace told us we have to change the outlet altogether or the dryer will not work properly. Trying to figure out who to believe! :) will this process work on any dryer?

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      Dan Harmon 4 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      You cannot legally change the outlet from a 4 prong to a 3 prong. Electrical code requires that every outlet has a ground wire, and there is no where to put it on a 3 prong outlet. I'm not even sure those old outlets can be purchased - as they are illegal to install I've never installed one in my years an an electrician. But the code DOES allow the procedure used here - it is a "grandfather" arrangement that allows dryers to be used in homes built before the code change requiring a ground to the dryer.

      Yes, the procedure here will work on any dryer made for use in the US and is both legal and safe if done correctly.

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      Deanna 4 months ago

      Thank you so much! Super helpful!!

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      Alltimedad 4 months ago

      Hey wilderness, very helpful. I have a question about the jumper. My ground nut is much further away from the neutral nut than your example. Can I use the green ground wire from the 4 wire cord as my jumper?

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      Dan Harmon 4 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.

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      Ashton 4 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 4 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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      floridaboyinco 3 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 3 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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      Kai 3 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 3 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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      Sanford 2 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 2 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 2 months ago

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

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      Lisa 2 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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      Dan Harmon 2 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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      ironmanth 2 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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      Ashley Myers 2 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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      Dan Harmon 2 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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      Lisa 2 months ago

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

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      Maqkdaddy86 7 weeks 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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      Dan Harmon 7 weeks 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 7 weeks 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 7 weeks 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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      Vicki 7 weeks 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 7 weeks 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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      Melissa Tafoya 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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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      Kim 4 weeks 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 3 weeks 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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      Angela 2 weeks ago

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

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      Dan Harmon 2 weeks 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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      Jill R Spriggs 13 days 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 13 days 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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      Mike 8 days 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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      Ben 7 days ago

      Thank you!

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      Jason 12 hours ago

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

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      Dan Harmon 47 minutes 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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