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Finding Bolts for Your Electric Dryer Power Cord, Wiring a 3-Prong Dryer Receptacle and Wiring GFCI Receptacles

June 29, 2010

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Angila Adams asks:
I have a really big problem; I have a Signature 2000 Dryer by Norge! I was going to change the power cord to a four prong but, can’t cause I lost the bolts for the wires! I’ve bought all different size bolts and can’t find the right size and just wondering if you can help me with that. I would be very thankful cause I got some clothes I would like to dry at home instead of a dang laundry mat lol.

You have a few options here. I’m guessing that you dropped the bolts down inside of the dryer. So, you could take apart the dryer and retrieve the bolts. This is very easy to do. First, unplug your dryer. The top of the dryer lifts up and is typically hinged on the backside. A flat blade screwdriver works well to lift the top up. Now you will need to remove the front panel with the door. This is usually held in place with 2 sheet metal screws. The screws are on each side, near the top of the panel and on the inside. After you remove the front panel, you need to remove the drum. This typically pulls forward; be careful not to break the belt wrapped around the drum. The screws should be on the bottom. If there is lint or dust in the bottom of your dryer, then this is a great time to clean the inside of your dryer.

Another option is to look in your local yellow pages book for “Appliance Service and Repair”. Hopefully, someone local has the bolts in stock. If not, then there is always the internet. I recommend Appliance Parts Pros. I live in a rural area and our local appliance parts stores never seem to have the part which I’m looking for. I’ve used Appliance Parts Pros several times and they have always provided a great service.


Ed asks:
What about hooking up a 4 wire supply cord from the electric box to a 3 prong (old style) receptacle? The black and red (hot) wires and the white wire (neutral) all go into the receptacle. 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 receptacle?

Yes. You are required to bond all metallic parts. This includes the metal case of the receptacle.


Kenny asks:
I have a 20 AMP breaker with 12-2 wire for my first floor kitchen where there are 2 wires attached to it. One wire goes to an outlet on the kitchen counter that I have a GFCI on by itself. The other wire goes to 2 outlets in the same double box. I have installed 2 GFCI outlets in the box wired correctly I believe. The wire coming from the breaker is on the line side of the first GFCI and the second GFCI with a jumper going from the line to the Load side of the first GFCI. Will this cause a problem? They seem to work fine as I have plugged lights into both in the double box and they stay lit and do not blow the GFCI. Will the single GFCI in the box by itself protect the other outlets in the double box due to them being attached at the Breaker? I do not mind it being overkill if that is all it is, due to it being an rental apartment.

The first GFCI will NOT protect the others through the circuit breaker.

You do not need the second GFCI in the double gang box. You can use a regular duplex receptacle here as it will be protected by the GFCI. If you elect to keep the second GFCI in the double gang box, then you may change the terminations on the first GFCI to the line side instead of the load side.


Outlet Spacing, Service Size for a Detached Garage and Installing a New Dryer Outlet Verses an Extension Cord

June 8, 2010

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Kelvin asks:
I have got rid of my wood-burning stove and a wall too the side of it. There was one outlet in the wall. Is there a minimum distance that must be maintained from one outlet to the next outlet when the outlet is facing the opposite direction?

Your outlets need to be a maximum of 12 feet apart. Any wall over 2 feet wide requires an outlet. About the only concern with placing an outlet on the opposite side of the wall is fire. If the wall dividing the two rooms is fire rated then you need to place the outlets in different stud bays.


Anthony Chios asks:
I would like to power a single car detached garage from my house. If I use a 100 amp sub panel in the garage, run conduit underground, ( about 25 feet), then enter the garage with watertight conduit connections, would I be able to use 12-3, or 12-2 wire in 1/2 ” conduit? Is there a concern about grounding other than the white wire between panels? What size breaker should I use in the mail panel to accommodate 3-4 20 amp breakers in the sub? This will be just for a single garage door opener, about 4 receptacles, and about 2-3 compact fluorescent lamps.

No you may not install 12/3 or 12/2 NM cable in conduit. This is a code violation. The concern is that the outer sheath will trap too much heat. I recommend using copper wire with THWN / THHN insulation.

Regarding grounding in houses. Your neutral and ground wires connect together at the first point of disconnect only. When installing sub-panels in out buildings there are circumstances when you are permitted to only install 3 wires to the out building. Then you would reestablish a ground at the outbuilding. However, I do not recommend this. I prefer to establish the ground at the first point of disconnect and then just install ground wires to every sub-panel.

When it comes to garages, I highly recommend at least a 100 amp service. You can get away with less, but inevitably someone will want to do some welding or install a large compressor.


Fred Irons asks:
Can I change the ends of a 220 extension cord from a 4 prong to a three prong dryer male and female ends? My dryer and wall plug are three prong. If so how?

I’ve never seen anyone use an extension cord for a dryer before. This is not recommended and I believe this may be a code violation. Extension cords are for temporary power only. I recommend installing a new 4-wire dryer receptacle within 6 feet of the dryer. If you install a new receptacle, then it needs to meet today’s code requirements. This means that you will need to change the cord on your dryer to a 4-wire / 4-prong as well.


Ceiling Fans Turning Off and On Mysteriously, Rule of Thumb for Voltage Drop and Dryer Configurations

May 11, 2010

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Nelson Boudreau asks:
I have three fans that come on and off by themselves what’s wrong?

It’s hard to say. Did you check for loose connections? Are the fans controlled by a remote control? Another remote could be on the same frequency.


Chris Salamida asks:
I am running a 20 amp dedicated circuit for a 2 hp swimming pool pump. I was going to use 12/3 romex in PVC conduit. It occurred to me that since the pump is approximately 60-80 feet away from the source I may have to increase the 12/3 to 10/3. Any rules of thumb for this?

The rule of thumb is you are fine for the first 150′ then increase your wire size by 1 for every 100′ thereafter. However, it is best to do the calculation for longer runs or for runs with larger wire.

One problem with your design is that you can’t install romex in any type of conduit. The wires get too hot because of the outer sheath. You need to strip off the outer sheath or better yet, just buy some individual conductors to install in the PVC.

Pools are tricky and should be left to the professionals; in my opinion. Remember, electricity and water do not mix. At the very least, make sure that you get a permit for this project. You definitely want an inspector to sign off and verify that everything is done properly.


John asks:
I just bought a home with just the 2 hot wires and a neutral hanging from the ceiling in the basement (3 prong). My dryer has a 4 prong cord so I bought a 4 prong receptacle and put the two hot wires in the corresponding holes in the receptacle and put the neutral wire where it goes so there is nothing in the ground in the receptacle end, but the dryer turns on. Should I hook that ground up to the ground screw in the dryer panel or just buy a 3 prong cord and 3 prong receptacle and bonding strap? I don’t want to use it til I know it’s safe.

My recommendation is to always upgrade your wiring to 4 wires. However, if this can’t be done very easily, then you need to go with the 3-prong, 3-wire configuration.


Installing a 3-way Dimmer Switch, Terminating a Dryer Power Cord and Supplying Power to a Water Softener

April 23, 2010

Question Eric asks:
Regarding a 3-way dimmer on a four-way circuit, I have a similar issues. My mechanical (standard) switches work perfectly but I can’t get a 3-way dimmer (to replace one of the 3-way switches) to work right. That is, it will not work in all switch positions. According to the vague user information published by the manufacturer (Lutron), it seems you need to use an accessory dimmer with a “Multi-location” 3-way dimmer. This seems completely ridiculous…but it has to be the case. The circuit works perfectly…but not with a dimmer. The dimmer only seems to work with power on the common. When on the runner – no go. Using the same exact wiring with the mechanical 3-way – no problem!
This is very frustrating…I guess I’ll have to buy an overpriced “accessory dimmer”. Unbelievable!!! What a scam.

Eric you don’t need the accessory dimmer. First check to ensure that you wired the new switch correctly. One of the screws on the dimmer is a different color that the other 2. This is the common and you will terminate either the power supply wire or the wire which goes to the light fixture to this screw. The other 2 wires are your travelers. These will connect to the brass colored screws. If you mix up one of the travelers and the common the switch won’t work in all positions.

Lutron also makes a dimmer switch which requires a master and slave combination. This will allow you to install 2 or more dimmers and dim the lights from all switch positions. I believe this is their Maestro series. If you only need to dim the lights from one switch then you may have the wrong Lutron switch. Try their Ariadni or Skylark series. These will work for you.


Randy Kelley asks:
I have a newer home with 4 wire outlet. My dryer played out mom gave me her 3 wire one. I removed my 4 wire cord to put on older dryer. When I removed 3 wire cord the colors are red, white and l blue. Colors on 4 wire plug red, black, white and green. So I guess red to red white to white. Where do black and green go?

The black should terminate to the terminal with the blue wire and the green will terminate to the dryer’s frame. If the neutral and ground or dryer frame are connected on the dryer with the 3-wire cord, then you need to separate them by either removing the bonding strap or the green wire connecting between the dryer’s frame and the neutral position on the terminal block. The article at the link below should be a little more helpful.

Changing an Electric Dryer’s Power Cord from a 3-Prong Plug to a 4-Prong Plug


John Reiss asks:
I have a 220v well away from my house. The water softener need a 110 volt source to power it. How can I wire 110v off of the 220v pump switch?

You can’t! The 200v pump circuit is probably 2 hot wires and a ground. The 110v circuit requires 1 hot wire, 1 neutral wire and 1 ground wire. You can’t tap 110v off of a 220v circuit without overcurrent protection. The 220v breaker will probably never trip if there is a problem with the 110v line. You also need to be concerned about overloading the circuit by adding the water softener.

If you have 2 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground and adding the water softener won’t overload, then use the pump circuit to supply power to a sub-panel ahead of the pump and switch. Then use the correct size breaker to re-feed the pump and install a new single pole breaker for your 110v circuit.

If you do not have a neutral or the water softener will overload the circuit, then you need to install a new, dedicated 110v circuit.


Troubleshooting the Power between a Garage Junction Box and a Lean Too, Tapping the Buss Bars in a Panel and Troubleshooting a Dryer Receptacle

April 19, 2010

Question Willie Needham asks:
I have a 110 wire going to a junction box to my out building. I want electricity in my out building and my lean too. I connected the wiring from the lean too and the outbuilding to the hot wire which comes from the main line to junction box by connecting all 3 ends of the wiring together with electrical nuts (hot to hot, white to white and ground to ground. it doesn’t work. What have I done wrong?
thanks for any wisdom,


I’m not sure. Do you have power on the incoming line? Do you have a loose connection? Do you have a broken wire? Are you missing a neutral? It is difficult to say. I really need more information. Test for voltage between the hot and neutral. You should have 120 volts here. You should also have 120 volts between the hot and ground wires. However, you should have 0 volts between the neutral and ground wires.

Turn off the power, go to your lean too and wire nut the white and black wires together. Now go to the junction box and check for continuity between the white and black wires coming from the lean too. This will tell you if you have a broken wire or not. If you have continuity, then the wires are fine. However, if there is no continuity, then the wires may be broken or not making a good connection.


Joe Garritano asks:
Is there a device to install across the buss bars of a 200 amp panel other than a breaker, that will give me two Lugs that I can tap to a 100 amp sub panel with a main in the sub panel for a garage. I think there is, but I don’t know what it’s called.

You don’t want to do this. Your wiring needs to be overcurrent protected. This is what the circuit breaker is for. Install a 100 amp breaker in your 200 amp panel to feed a main lug sub-panel.


RaeLynn asks:
I test plugged my new 4 prong power cord, to make sure it fit and heard a pop and saw a spark from the outlet. I than connected everything as instructed. Now the dryer wont work. Do you thing the problem is the cord or the outlet?
Thanks RaeLynn

I’m not sure. It sounds like you may need an electrician to come check it out. Was the new cord connected and terminated to the dryer when you plugged it in? Did you reset the breaker after it tripped? I really need more information and pictures may help here.


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