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How To Change a 4 Prong Electric Dryer Power Cord To a 3 Prong Electric Power Cord

March 3, 2008

This is an article that several people have been asking for. This “How To” article will walk you through, step by step, on how to change a 4-wire electric dryer power cord to a 3-wire electric dryer power cord. These instructions will work on a stove or range as well. The only difference is the plug configuration and wire size. For a dryer, you need 10 AWG wire and for a range you need 6 AWG wire.

The tools you will need for this installation are:

  • 1 – phillips screwdriver
  • 1 – standard screwdriver
  • 1 – 3/8″ nutdriver
  • 1 – 5/16″ nutdriver
  • 1 – 1/4″ nutdriver

 

Lets get started

4-Prong Dryer Plug To change your electric dryer power cord from a 4-wire to a 3-wire you first need to disconnect the old dryer cord. To do this make sure your dryer is unplugged and open the access panel cover on the back of the dryer.
This cover is all different sizes and shapes depending on the manufacturer of the dryer, but it is typically very close to where the cord enters the dryer. The cover is typically held in place with 1 – 4 screws. See image to the right of a Maytag Performa dryer access panel. Dryer Access Panel
Click to enlarge
With the cover open you will see a terminal block with three wires. Black on one end, white in the middle and red on the other end. Use your 3/8″ nutdriver to remove the nuts or a phillips screwdriver to remove the bolts (depending on your dryer) and remove each dryer cord wire from the terminal block. When you remove the nuts or bolts, be careful not to drop them down into your dryer. Dryer with 4-Wire Cord
Click to enlarge
Now you need to install a bonding jumper from the neutral terminal to the dryer’s frame. The bonding jumper is either a metallic strap (typically copper or copperclad) or a green wire that is connected between your dryer’s neutral (white wire) terminal and the green ground screw connected to your dryer’s frame.

Installing this bonding jumper is an extremely important step when changing from a 4-wire to a 3-wire power cord to prevent electrical shocks when touching anything metallic on your dryer.

Dryer Bonding Strap
Click to enlarge
If you do not have the original bonding strap, you can make one. You need a short piece of green 10 AWG wire, 2 ring terminals, a pair of wire strippers and a pair of crimpers. Strip both ends of the green 10 AWG wire and crimp one ring terminal onto each end of the wire. Now connect one end of the wire to the neutral (center) terminal and the other end to the dryer’s frame; where your ground is connected now. Items needed to make a bonding strap
Click to enlarge
3-Prong Dryer Plug Loosen the screws at the connector and pull the cord out. Now thread your new cord through the connector and tighten down. This only needs to be snug do not over tighten. Sometimes the old connector will work with the new cord and sometimes not. If not, your new cord will include a connector that you may use.
To hook up your new 3-wire dryer cord, connect each wire to the dryer’s terminal block. The 2 outer wires are your “hot” wires and the center wire is the neutral. 3-Wire Dryer Cord Explained Dryer with 3-Wire Cord
Click on images to enlarge
Replace the access panel cover and your new 3-wire dryer cord is installed Dryer Access Panel
Click to enlarge
Before plugging in your new dryer cord, I recommend turning off the breaker to your dryer receptacle. Then plug in your dryer. Now turn the breaker back on. This is not fool proof, but it is a safer way to turn on the power to your dryer if you made a mistake connecting your new dryer cord.

If your dryer is different from the one described above and would like a second opinion on your connections, email a picture of the terminal block to info at ezdiyelectricity dot com. I will post the pictures on this page to help others with the same dryer.

DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician Do you need assistance with your electrical wiring project? Please visit my DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician page. Where I provide electrical wiring tips, expert electrical advice, answers to your electrical questions and electrical consulting & design services over the phone, via instant messenger or via email.

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Comments

50 Responses to “How To Change a 4 Prong Electric Dryer Power Cord To a 3 Prong Electric Power Cord”

  1. Green Home Improvements on March 8th, 2008 9:55 pm

    I bookmarked your site (stumbled it charlesfhi) so I can refer back to it when I have a project around my house.

  2. TheHardwareCity on March 21st, 2008 9:27 am

    I was looking for exact same thing.
    Thanks a bunch.

  3. Allison E on March 25th, 2008 12:45 pm

    I followed your steps, but I’m not sure I did it correctly because my dryer isn’t working. The area where I think I might be messing up is the grounding wire. When I removed the 4 prong wires, the green wire (not the green wire connected to the 4 prong plug, but a seperate one) was screwed to the side of the panel (with a green bolt). I cannot tell where that wire leads. Am I supposed to unscrew that from the green bolt and connect it with my middle/neutral wire on the middle terminal? I tried that, but still got no power?

    Could it be something else? Does it matter which direction you connect the new wires (face up, face down, upside down)?

    Thanks for your help!!

  4. Jeffrey S on April 26th, 2008 4:38 pm

    I am having the same problem as Allison E was having on March 25, 2008. Tried everything she did except the “which direction” (face up, down, etc), and it doesn’t work still. Help! I’m starting to loose my patience with the darned thing!

  5. Allison E on April 28th, 2008 7:25 am

    Jeffrey – if you haven’t tried the face up/face down switch, you may want to. A coworker came and got the thing running just by flipping the connectors over…I felt like quite the girl because I hadn’t tried such a simple fix, but at least its working now! Good luck!

  6. josh on May 4th, 2008 6:03 pm

    same thing with the green wire thats left when i cahange the 4 prong to a 3 prong. what do i do with the green wire

  7. Jerry on May 12th, 2008 10:00 am

    I just bought a new dryer from Sears. They supplied me with a 3 prong plug (2 flat prongs, one L-shaped). My home receptacle admits 3 flat prongs. Can I replace the supplied supplied dryer cord (and cable) with an “old-style”, 3 (flat) prong plug and cable or must I install a receptacle that will accept the “2 flat, one L-shaped pin” plug? (PS. don’t be thrown by the “.uk” in my e-address – I live in Virginia).

  8. Steven on June 7th, 2008 12:06 pm

    I am trying to change out a 4 wire to a 3 wire as well. There is a green wire that is attached somewhere inside the dryer and to the neutral terminal….

    What do i do from here and is that green wire attached as it should be?

  9. joseph on June 10th, 2008 11:10 pm

    need advise: I took the 4 burner electric element with yop frame off a 220v. electric range along with the the 4 knob control panel for the burners (I am making a Japaneese teppanyakki table) which I plan to place under a 2′x4′ sheet of stainless steel #304 as a heat source for my grill/table. when I followed the wires from the burners to the control panel then to the terminal block – the ONLY 2 wires connected to the 4 burner control panel are red and blue (both hot 110v each) there is NO white common wire to the top 4 burner elemet. the grounding strap is in place connecting the frame and terminal post center together. a three wire plug was used to power the stove – my question I have a dedicated 220v 50amp GFI breaker – i connect the red and blue of the electric 4 burner to the 2 hot wires in the breaker – I think I should connect the ground from the breaker to the metal frame of the 4 burners via the third wire of the 3 prone cord that came with the stove (since there is no actual white wire needed) by connecting the ground – will this shut off the GFI breaker in the case of electric shock?

  10. misty on June 23rd, 2008 3:10 pm

    i have electronic appliances that are wired to UK or Mid east standards (3 prong instead of the regular “polarized” american standard??)…i am moving back to the states taking all of my belongings with me..and i want to know if i can just buy new plug ends and re wire the appliances…question is where do i get the new plug ends from and is it as easy as that? changing the plug ends? I appreciate any help.

  11. Chelle on June 28th, 2008 12:06 am

    Thank you so much, if i had listened to the guy at Lowes my house would be up in smoke…The pictures were a big help!!!!!!

  12. Brett on June 29th, 2008 3:02 am

    wow, cool. So glad this sort of information is around. It took a while to find this website but you really answered my questions.

    thanks from Alaska

  13. C. Jerry Walker on July 9th, 2008 6:15 pm

    Where do I find a 60 watt 220 volt light bulb? I bought a band saw. I changed the motor from 110 volts to 220 volts. At 110, it pulled 15 amps, at 220 it pulls 7 1/2 amps. However there is a work light attached to the saw and it says to use a 60 watt bulb. Since I have change to 220, I need a bulb rated for 220 volts. Is there a way to rewire the switch from 220 and make the light 110 again? Thanks, C. Jerry Walker Would appreciate an email to my question

  14. Jennifer Watkins on July 28th, 2008 3:40 pm

    followed your steps, but I’m not sure I did it correctly because my dryer isn’t working. The area where I think I might be messing up is the grounding wire. When I removed the 4 prong wires, the green wire (not the green wire connected to the 4 prong plug, but a seperate one) was screwed to the side of the panel (with a green bolt). I cannot tell where that wire leads. Am I supposed to unscrew that from the green bolt and connect it with my middle/neutral wire on the middle terminal? I tried that, but still got no power?

  15. ravi on September 16th, 2008 8:01 am

    I am looking for a similar solution for connecting my Jenn-air Cooktop. The cook top has 4 prong wire coming out. My wall receptacle is 3 prong. I tried replacing the receptacle but the wires running inside the walls were 3 wired.

    I opened the back of the cooktop to try what you suggested above. The ground (open copper wire) is connected to the casing. The neutral wire and the hots are connected respectively and taped up. No connection plate like the dryers (shown in the above wiring diagram). I bought a 3-prong wire to replace the 4-prong. But I feel this might be messy.

    Can I instead connect the Neutral (White) and the Copper wire together on the same terminal on the 3 prong Plug. And connect the 2 hots to the respective terminals.

    I would appreciate your suggestion.

  16. Ron Bruce on September 18th, 2008 9:41 pm

    I am changing a dryer power cord from 4 wire to 3 wire. In addition to the green wire attached to the “exterior ground” terminal, there was a green, with yellow stripe, wire attached to the neutral terminal under the white neutral wire. After attaching the 3 wire cord, will leaving that green with yellow stripe wire in place sufficiently serve as the ground wire, with the white power cord wire sharing the same (neutral) terminal?

  17. Greg on October 1st, 2008 12:29 pm

    Can see questions but not answers. What do you do with the green wire? Also is 12 guage wire acceptable in regard to the ground, instead of 10?

    Thanks

  18. Wendel on October 13th, 2008 3:13 pm

    I am trying to change from 4 wire back to original 3 wire but I don’t have a terminal block in the GE dryer. I have red, blue and black wires from inside the dryer that were originally connected to the wires from the 4 wire power cord. How do I connect the wires to the 3 wire power cord? and what about grounding?

  19. Jeffrey on December 10th, 2008 12:35 pm

    I am changing from a 4 wire to a 3 wire on a Whirlpool dryer. I seem to be having the same common problem that everyone else is having. It’s that little green wire with a yellow stripe that is attached somewhere in the dryer, does that go to the body of the dryer as a ground or does it get attached to the terminal block and if so, which terminal.

  20. Andrea on December 17th, 2008 2:32 pm

    Ok… So I am stuck at the same spot everyone else is. The green wire coming from within the dryer, what do I do with it? Do I leave it unconnected, do I keep it at ground on the frame of the dryer with the bonding strap, or do I connect it somewhere else?

  21. Joel on December 22nd, 2008 9:12 am

    In response to the green wire with a yellow stripe on the whirlpools. I also had the same question.

    I spoke to a local whirlpool tech and he stated that the green wire with the yellow stripe (that comes from within the dryer and connects to the green ground) is to stay connected on the ground. Although he stated that you DO NOT have to put a bonding strap from the ground to the neutral. This is already done within the dryer. Just connect the 2 hots and 1 neutral. I believe the bonding strap is required for those dryers without the internal wire connected to the ground.

  22. david on September 18th, 2009 6:16 pm

    Hey everybody, correct me (please correct me before I electrocute myself) if I am wrong, but my Kenmore instructs me to disengage the green internal wire from the dark hexnut and connect it behind the neutral/ground middle wire if switching from the four prong to three prong set-up. ZZZZZZapppp–POW !!! Ouch! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Playing with 220 volts is not my idea of fun.

  23. Josh on September 26th, 2009 3:04 pm

    I purchased a 2003 dryer, to replace my pre 2000 dryer…

    I am using the #10 3 prong wire from my old dryer, I hooked it up to my 2003 kenmore dryer to replace the 4 prong #10 wire…

    So, the left most terminal, I hook up the outside wire, one of them, the middle to middle but the middle terminal has the green wire hooked up to the case, and the right wire to the other outer wire on the 3 prong plug..

    When I turn the dryer on, it smells like it is burning…… WHY?

  24. ed on October 23rd, 2009 6:09 pm

    What about hooking up a 4 wire supply cord from the electric box to a 3 prong (old style) recepticle?

    The black and red (hot) wires and the white wire (neutral) all go into the recepticle. But what about the bare copper wire? It’s obviously a ground wire, so can I just attach it to the metal case of the recepticle?

    Thx much.

  25. Jim on October 31st, 2009 2:17 pm

    There is a ground wire that is attached to the unit’s frame, but it is not clear to me if it is connected to the nuetral wire. It goes somewhere behind the connections and I can’t see. Any ideas?

  26. kelly.robertson on November 26th, 2009 6:53 am

    how to change a 4 prong dyer floor outlet to a 3 prong dryer floor outlet

  27. Loreto on December 7th, 2009 2:31 am

    I just moved from Colorado to Pennsylvania and the outlet for
    my dryer was a 4 Prong outlet my dryer had a 3 prong. I was about to call an electrician when I decided to google it see if I could come out with something. I click on your page and it was very helpful all I had to do is to go to my local Lowes and buy the cord and follow your easy to follow instruction. It save me money and I learn something new, thanks by the way the pictures help a lot

  28. Cheryl on December 9th, 2009 2:51 pm

    I have a dryer and it use to be a 3 prong, and change it into a 4 prong, well now that I have moved into a manufactured home it calls for a 3 prong once again. Well when the 3 prong was hooked up the dryer starts very slow and if there is to many clothes in there it will not turn at all. It never has done that before. Can you please help me out tired of going to the laundry matt.

    Thank you,
    Cheryl

  29. Gerry on January 12th, 2010 12:59 pm

    Thanks so much. This was sooooo easy to follow.
    Of course, I’m an engineer. lol

  30. Debbie on February 27th, 2010 1:03 am

    My question is the same as everyone elses. What do you do about the green wire that is alreay connected somewhere else. I changed a 4 prong over to a 3 prong and it says you need the green wire for the ground. it was already grounded somewhere else and i didn’t mess with it and i got shocked. Please help me someone.

  31. EMIR on March 28th, 2010 1:20 pm

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Well Explained with Pictures. i did make my own bonding strap with 10 gage peace of wire. Changed y cooktop from 4 wire plug to 3 wire plug,

  32. David Jones on May 13th, 2010 5:33 pm

    I love your tutorial, I’ve used it twice already. First for a friend who moved, I switched her dryer from a three prong cord to a four prong one. Second I used it when I moved, but I had to switch mine from a four prong cord to a three. Thank you for your help!! I really appreciate it!!!

  33. Rennie on May 30th, 2010 7:14 am

    i just had to replace both of my electircal fuse boxes in the garage and outside and when they turn on everything my stove lights (hotpoint) standup and my dryer light inside the tub did not work. they say for me to call applicance people, and i feel they did this and blew something that cause everything i mentioned not to work. am i right or wrong they did say everything is grounded and its not them. can you help with info. thanks. they replaced all old circuit boxes and fuses with new ones. house built in 60″s.

  34. Chris on August 16th, 2010 5:15 pm

    I followed these steps but I have a question about the bonding strap / jumper wire. I recently received a used Kenmore 80 Series dryer with the 4 prong plug and took the 3 prong off my old one. In the newer one, there is no bonding strap or anything, but when I took off the top piece and looked down into it, I noticed that the white wire from the center terminal and the green grounding wire attached to the frame, come together and look to be connected together anyway. Do I still need to make a bonding wire? (Model number 110.64832400)

  35. Alan Rose on February 11th, 2011 2:11 pm

    Just want to add my thanks to everyone else’s. This is just what I was looking for.

    …haven’t actually started on it yet, but I’m feeling optimistic.

  36. Jolene on February 11th, 2011 7:45 pm

    Thank you! This advice is exactly what we needed!

  37. robert martin on February 21st, 2011 1:42 pm

    thanks for the help in switching my dryer to a three prong.I ran a ground wire from center nuetral to exsisting green wire attahed to frame.at first it didnt work.my middle connection wasnt buttoning down tight.once i had all connections tight i turned on and nothing at first but after about 5 seconds it did start working.hope this helps.this site defenatley saved me from hiring a pro!!thanks again!!!!

  38. Sean on March 20th, 2011 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the great info! I just changed from a 4-prong to a 3 prong.

  39. chris keel on April 23rd, 2011 10:37 am

    if the dryer isn’t getting hot after changing from a 4 prong to a 3 prong what is the problem?

  40. Eva on May 16th, 2011 9:07 am

    THANKS THAT HELP ME A LOT.

  41. Jason on August 25th, 2011 8:50 am

    Im changing my 4 prong plug to a 3 prong on my dryer. I dropped two of the nuts down inside the dryer how bad is this and can I just use any nut to replace the ones I dropped or does it have to need be brass or certain type?? Any help will be greatly greatly appreciated.

  42. Ryan on August 30th, 2011 1:22 pm

    I converted a Kenmore 500 Series dryer from 3- to 4-prong. In this case, you DO move the grounded wire (which is white) to the center terminal. This wire is a neutral ground and permanently attached to neutral.

    So when you’re done, your set up should be: green cord wire to the ground terminal, black cord wire to the black terminal, white cord wire to the middle terminal, white internal wire also to the middle terminal, and red cord wire to the red terminal.

    This is spelled out on page 7 of my dryer’s installation instructions:
    http://www.managemylife.com/mmh/installation_guides/6177/KENMORE-Residential-Dryer-L0608081?brand_name_search=11067542600

  43. Bubba on August 30th, 2011 2:10 pm

    Thank you! YOU ROCK !!!!

  44. christy on September 18th, 2011 11:24 am

    This site is great!

    Question tho, for dryer, i dont have the bonding strap anymore, can i use a 12 AWG wwire instead of 10?

    Thanks!

  45. Ben Roorda on October 31st, 2011 1:18 pm

    I have the standered 4 wire 230 volt plug in my garge. Why they put that there i dont know. I want to wire my air comp to it at 20 amp 250 volt, no problem right volts are there i have two 50 amp breakers in my pannel for this outlet. Red and black both have 120 volts which leaves White neutral and Green ground(duh). how do I get all 250 volts on one wire so i(wait air comp is three wire and wants all volts on one leg, Sorry) I have neutral and ground?

  46. eric spaulding on December 4th, 2011 3:28 pm

    thanks!!!! lots of help

  47. bobby on January 4th, 2012 1:21 pm

    do i put yhe grounds together the machine has one too

  48. Josh Whitfield on February 21st, 2012 5:57 pm

    if the dryer isn’t getting hot after changing from a 4 prong to a 3 prong what is the problem?

  49. Krista on March 4th, 2012 6:50 pm

    My name is krista and I just bought a new dryer and im not sure how to hook it up i can do the red the whote and the black wires but im not sure how to do the ground wires is there a page i can read step by step how to hook it up?

  50. Joel on April 7th, 2013 4:22 pm

    I converted my 4 prong dryer to a 3. Everything seems fine except that it smells like something is burning every time it’s on a high setting. While on a low setting there is no burning smell. What would cause this?

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