Tip & How-To about Washing Machines
So you have an, ahem... problem....you have a Code compliant dryer (with it's 4 wire cord and plug)....and have moved into an older home that is not Code compliant (with it's 3 prong receptacle outlet)....and this is fairly common.
At this point - you have two choices....replace the wiring from the dryer's breaker to the receptacle with all new 8/3 with ground romex (it more then likely only has 8/2 with ground now)....and replace the receptacle with a 4 prong grounding receptacle to match your dryer's cord....OR - as an alternative - you can replace the cord on your dryer with a 3 prong cord to match the existing dryer receptacle outlet.
Out of the 2 choices....the first one will bring the old wiring in the home up to current Codes (all NEW homes must have this 4 wire/4 prong set-up per Code...but older homes are grand-fathered)...but it is clearly the most involved, time consuming and most costly approach...and it is recommended only an electrician do this work. If this approach is taken....your dryer cord can stay as is...it will now fit the new receptacle outlet with no modifications.
The second approach - is to pick up a 3 wire 3 prong cord at your local hardware store to match the existing 3 prong receptacle.....and replace the 4 wire cord on your dryer with it. Although this is the least desireable - it is an allowed approach because this is an older home with existing wiring. This is a much less involved approach...all you need to buy is the 3 wire dryer cord (they come all ready to go) remove the 4 wire cord and install the 3 wire cord to your electrical connections at the back of the dryer. Hopefully...when the 4 wire cord was installed on your dryer, the ground strap wasn't removed completely (this is a metal strap that will connect the white wire to the metal frame of the dryer)...because now you will need to re-use the ground strap. For more on this....see the images of the differences of the 3 wire and 4 wire dryer hook-up at:
NOTE: the only real difference between the 3 wire cord and the 4 wire cord is now the white neutral and the ground are kept seperate in a 4 wire..the green ground will connect directly to the dryer frame....where in a 3 wire there is no seperate ground wire - ground and neutral are one and the same...the ground strap connects the frame to the white neutral. The 4 wire permits a better safety measure...in the event of an electrical problem (ground fault) in the dryer...the fault now has a seperate path to your panel's ground...and less chance of a shock from touching the metal frame of the dryer.
The choice of how to proceed is up to you....if you go with completely updating the dryer wiring from the breaker outward...I recommend an electrician do this work for you (it's about an hour's work...plus materials). Then your exisiting dryer's 4 wire 4 prong cord can stay as is....the electrician will install a 4 prong receptacle made to fit your cord.
If you go with simply replacing the dryer's cord....changing it to a 3 wire so it will fit the receptacle...make sure the ground strap is re-utilized as seen in the images at the site above.(also make sure all work is done with the dryer breaker (or fuse if a really old home) off before starting any work. If you change the cord yourself...make sure to reconnect in exactly the same manner as the previous cord was connected...(make a note on paper or take pictures so that there are no mistakes)..and that you tighten the nuts securely to the posts once the wire lugs are on them. Where you state you do not have a background in electrical work...you can have an electrician change this cord for you...(typically in under a half-hour)....or you can do it yourself - by carefully following the pictures.
The choice is yours...if it was me - I'd change the wiring from the breaker outward...making the older home meet today's current Codes and be complaint for this dryer..and then you wouldn't need to change a thing on the dryer....but you can go either way....Codes allow this grandfathering in older homes with existing wiring.
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