3 prong dryer cords

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I recently bought a used clothes dryer. It came with a 3-prong cord, but I have a 4-prong outlet. How do I hook it up? I was told that switching the cord can be tricky.

Years ago, outlets for electric dryers (and electric stoves for that matter) were a three-prong style. In more modern homes, updated electrical codes require that these outlets are four-prong style instead. Since dryer and stove manufacturers have no idea what type of outlet is in your house, they ship these appliances without a cord attached – you would supply your own.

Changing over to a 4-prong cord from a 3-prong one is fairly simple as long as you’re careful. First, you need to obtain the correct cord. Luckily, they’re usually readily available from your local hardware store or home improvement center. Be sure to get a dryer cord and not a range cord. There’s a difference, and you won’t be able to plug it into your dryer outlet anyway.
Remove the back cover over the wire connections and you’ll see where the three terminals are to connect the dryer cord. The outermost terminals are the line connections (usually you’ll see a red and black, or two black wires attached to these connections) and the center one is the neutral connection. On this center connector you’ll see a white wire and either a green wire or a metal bonding strip that connects this terminal to the metal frame of the dryer. This bonding strip needs to be removed when using a 4-wire cord. Attach the red, black, and white wires from your new dryer cord to the proper terminals and the green wire from the new cord should be attached to a screw on the dryer frame. Many times, you’ll find a green colored screw near the other three terminals on the back of the dryer. This is where the green wire should be connected.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you are at all unsure about completing this task on your own, you should call a licensed electrician. When dealing with electricity, sometimes it’s better to err on the side of caution!

I want to use an electric range in my garage to bake powder coated parts. I was told that I could run a cord from my dryer plug out to the garage to power the oven as long as I didn't turn on any of the stovetop burners. That way, it wouldn't exceed 30 amps and I would be fine. Is this true or is it unsafe?

This doesn't sound like a very safe idea. You need to run a circuit designed for the maximum load required by the stove - usually a 40 amp or 50 amp circuit for most residential ranges.

There are other problems with this plan too numerous to point out here. Suffice to say that you probably shouldn't risk a fire with this shortcut.

The manual for my new electric pressure washer says it must be plugged directly into an outlet and not an extension cord. The cord for the unit is only 20 ft long and generally I need more to use this washer. Is there anything else I can do?

You can safely use an extension cord, but you have to make sure it's a heavy-duty type. Using a lightweight cord will subject it to overheating, and you may prematurely burn out the motor of your pressure washer due to current starvation from using a too-small cord.

Stick with one that is built with 10 or 12 gauge wire and you should be fine. Anything smaller (i.e. 14 or 16 ga.) should be avoided.

Wurtsboro Electric Service, Inc.

Licensed electricians serving Orange county, Sullivan county, and Ulster county in New York
(845) 888-8000 

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