Changing an Electric Dryer Cord (Brought To You From The Eight Inch Space Behind The Washer)

Here’s an interesting look into my psyche: While I’ve made it very clear on this website that I’d rather have a two foot long chunk of wood shoved under the skin of my finger than do laundry regularly, there also appears to be no lengths I wouldn’t go to (and by that I mean “no space too small for me to wedge myself into”) to get the washer and dryer hooked up and working properly. You know, so I can glare menacingly at them every time I walk by the laundry room and feel guilty for not folding my unmentionables into cute little origami ducks, or whatever.

Which is exactly how I found myself located here for the better part of an afternoon last Sunday.


(You’ll have to excuse the quality of some of this pictures since there wasn’t room for me and the big camera behind the washer, so I resorted to iPhone pics.)

Really, hooking up a washer and dryer should be a fairly simple thing. Some hoses, some cords, maybe a pipe clamp or two, and then next thing you know you’re rolling around in a Downy scented cloud of awesomeness. Or. Or you might find yourself head-down, dripping water from the face, stretched inexplicably over two major appliances and a sink trying not to electrocute yourself after your second trip to Lowe’s for the day. Either one of those scenarios is entirely feasible.

For me it went a little like this: The first little washer/dryer hook-up project was to install some filters on the hot and cold water supply lines. I’m still getting some pretty serious black debris coming out of all of the faucets and it’s yet to be determined if it’s coming from the well and will be filtered out by the softner, or if I’ve got some galvanized pipe hiding in the walls somewhere that needs to be bleached and eventually removed. As an interim solution I scoured the plumbing aisle at Lowe’s looking for something that would help keep any gunk out of the washer, and miraculously found these…


I thought I was going to have to MacGyver something out of an under-sink filter or some screening and O-rings, but for one of the first times in recent memory I actually found exactly what I was looking for in a convenient 3-piece package.

This was actually fairly simple installation. I just removed the existing O-rings from the hoses, inserted the filters, and attached the hoses to the supply lines.


(That’s me demonstrating what I assume is the “correct” way to install these filters, but I’m not basing that on any kind of actual fact.)

What I can tell you is that as long as you tighten the hoses properly, everything seems to work fine. If you don’t tighten the hoses property? Face full of water. Just sayin’.

The second step was to install the dryer vent with one of these handy pipe clamps.


Then I thought I’d just plug everything in, and we’d be a go. Except this happened…


That’s a four-prong dryer cord and a three-prong outlet. Fantastic.

If you ever find yourself in this position you have two options… change the outlet (which is probably a better idea as far as electrical codes go) or change the cord.

I’m still at the point with this house that I have to shut off every single switch in the breaker to cut power to a single outlet and since my chances of getting the crap zapped out of me increased exponentially with changing the outlet, I took the easy way out and decided to change the cord.

Here’s how this works…

The cords are meant to be easy to swap, at least on newer dryers. The access plate was quick to remove with just one screw:


Then we have the innards:


As you can see, all cords are attached with screws, which makes taking everything apart quick and easy.

Here’s me communing in my socks on top of the dryer with the four-prong and three-pong cords:


Since the wires on the three-prong cord weren’t color coded I double checked in the manual that the wires on the ends were hot, and the wire in the middle was neutral. Then I attached everything by feeding the cords through the “cord clamp”:


(For reference, if all is right in the world then your black and red wires are hot, and white wires are neutral. Anything green or copper is a ground.)

Each wire got screwed in place (and the green ground from inside the washer was attached to the neutral wire as it had been previously):


And after reattaching the cover and plugging that baby in… voila!


Putting a new cord onto the dryer sounds like a daunting project, but it’s really not. The pain-in-the-ass part only comes into play if you live 30 miles from the nearest hardware store and don’t check that your outlet and plug match before trying to hook everything up.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have 15 pairs of work jeans waiting to be folded into origami versions of my favorite tools.

11 Responses

  1. I’ve had to change my dryer cord twice, once when I moved to an apartment and then when I moved to my house. but my issue was that when I moved to my house I had not realized that the previous dryer there was actually gas not electric, so I had to have an electrician out quickly to put in an outlet.

  2. That’s a pretty fancy looking appliance for someone with your love of laundry!

    If you hate to do laundry, having a convenient place to do it is essential – do you really want to go to a laundromat for this hated task? My husband bought a house so he didn’t have to go to the laundromat – I guess an apartment with washer/dryer hookups didn’t cross his mind.

  3. I am just jealous over your dryer. Mine looks like it was seriously stolen out of a dumpy Laundromat. It only has one button. “start” And it shuts off at random intervals. I would love to replace my cord if it meant getting a new one! Great tutorial BTW!

  4. I’m happy you have a working washer and dryer and your tutorial was great! Have you been able to make the ‘office’ your temporary bedroom yet or is all your furniture still in the front entry?

  5. Very good to know that this is even an option. I dont think I would have thought of that.

    And I’ll give an amen to the need to cut the power to everything for lack of confidence in properly designated breakers. I can only do electric work at our place during the day time for that reason.

  6. Well, now you can do laundry if you want to do laundry, great job! I almost spit my coffee out though at the idea of the unmentionables being folded into “cute little origami ducks”!

  7. (1) Run a green wire from the faceplate of the wall connector to the frame of the dryer and the dryer should be grounded OK. Any other color will also work. (2) “….cute little origami ducklings ….” Now THAT is something I would be tempted to spend $$$BIGBUCKS$$$ on to watch you turn into a tutorial film! LOL!

    1. -OR- Run a wire from the frame of the washer to the frame of the dryer, using the washer as “ground” (poor substitute, and not really legal or to code). The “Neutral” circuit may be connected somewhere to ground, BUT IT IS NOT IN FACT A TRUE GROUND. Be safe – do it right.

    2. That will only ground it if the faceplate is grounded, which I wouldn’t assume to be the case. The receptacle box would have to be metal and somehow tied in to the grounding system of the house. Not likely.

      Under the current setup, it is possible for the entire metal frame of the dryer to become energized and electrocute anyone who touches it. This is an unlikely scenario, but it’s the reason appliances are supposed to be grounded.

      Also, people think that if you connect a grounding wire to a water pipe, it’s grounded. Not so – the water pipes would have to be grounded, and that is not automatically true.

      1. Good discussion guys. Here is my understanding… with a 4-prong dryer plug the neutral and ground are separate wires (the ground, as you can see in the first picture, being connected directly to the dryer frame). In a 3-prong drywer plug, the ground and neutral are actually the same wire, and as you can see in the first and second “wireing” pictures there’s what is technically a “ground strap” that connects the white/neutral wire to the dryer frame. I didn’t rig that up, the dryer came that way to support either a 3 or 4 prong plug.

        I am by no means an electrician (and frankly having zapped the shit out of myself on more than one occasion, so it’s clear electrical work isn’t my strong suit) but I think this is the typical way dryers are set up, and the 3-prong outlets–while not to current code– are grandfathered in.

Comments are closed.

I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.