New Washer and Dryer – Electrical Issues?

So as you know we bought a new house that was built in the 1970s. Right before moving in we also bought a new washer and dryer that were practically new from one of my Uncles. Have you ever tried to put in new appliances in old homes? Things are not made the same these days. We had a dryer with a this kind of plug.


And we needed it to fit into this kind of outlet.20140604_122622

Talk about a “no-go.”

Even I (being really bad at math) know that four prongs don’t fit into three holes. So I went off to the one place that I knew to go: The Home Depot!

I asked their advice (don’t trust the advice of anyone but an actual electrician) and they recommended that I replace the outlet with a four-pronged outlet so that the four-pronged plug would fit into that.

It would be important to note that houses built in the last decade are all built to accomodate the four-pronged plug of a dryer. Before then they used the three-prongs. The main difference is that with the 3-prong, there are two hot wires on the side and a grounding wire in the middle. The grounding wire is supposed to channel any left-over electric charge and direct it from the dryer and into the ground to prevent electric shock from occurring. Now with the 4-prong setup there are two hot wires, a grounding wire and a neutral wire. This is supposed to give added safety and prevent electric shock.


So after purchasing the new 4-socket outlet I went home and I installed it after shutting off the breaker. The only issue was that there were four places to insert the wires from the wall, and there were only 3 wires coming out of the wall (again the two hot wires and the grounding wire.)20140604_13432620140604_143442This meant that the neutral wire in the cord would be attached to the dryer, and go into the socket (that one on the left of the cross shape) and have no wire to take that charge to the ground. So before turning the power back on, I called an electrician and offered to pay him for some advice. He told me that I needed to put the 3-socket outlet back on the wall and instead change the DRYER to a 3-pronged chord. This made a lot more sense, and I’m sure glad that I called him especially since he told me that I didn’t owe him anything for his advice. Had I not, I might not be alive to write this post today.


Since the old 3-socket outlet was really old, I accidentally broke it while trying to re-install it. I went back to the Home Depot and bought a new one, came back and installed it. Now there was no neutral wire, all the excess charge would be routed through the grounding wire which is supposedly a lot safer than sending it into a wire with no place to go as would have been the case.

Click here to see how to replace a dryer cord. Notice that the middle wire is the grounding wire and that in a 4-prong situation, both the grounding and neutral wires are attached to the center slot in the terminal block and then they are sent back into the outlet in two different wires.

After replacing it with a new 3-prong socket and installing the dryer with a 3-pronged cord, I replaced the back cover panel and turned the power on. We have now been able to do our laundry without needing to go to my parents’ house or the Laundromat, and the best part is nobody died!

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