Project Guide

How to Change a Dryer Cord

Open the Access Panel
person using a drill to open a dryer access panel
  • Before you begin, turn off the power to the dryer and unplug the unit.
  • Open the access panel where the cord enters the back of the dryer.
  • Use pieces of masking tape to label which colored wire attaches to each terminal. The wires are typically color-coded with a black wire on one end, a white wire in the middle, and a red wire on the other end.
Remove the Old Cord
A person removing a dryer cord
  • Loosen the connection screws holding the wires in place.
  • Disconnect the ground wire or strap that connects the center terminal to the case.
  • Use pliers to hold the strain relief bracket in place while loosening the bracket's screws.
  • Remove the old cord.
Attach the New Cord
Person using a drill to attach a new dryer cord

Tip: When replacement cord wires are color-coded, simply match the colors of the new cord’s wires to those on the terminal block. 

3-prong cord

  • Attach the middle or groundwire to the center terminal, one of the outer wires to the right terminal, and the other outer wire to the left terminal.
  • Attach the ground strap or wire that runs from the center terminal to the dryer case.

4-prong cord

  • Attach the white wire to the center terminal, the red wire to the right terminal with the red wire installed, and the black wire to the left terminal with the black wire installed.
  • Attach the green wire to the green grounding screw or dryer case.
  • Remove the masking tape labels.
Replace the Access Panel
Person installing back panel on a dryer.
  • Fit the strain relief bracket into the cord access hole and evenly tighten both bracket screws firmly onto the cord. This is important as the bracket protects the connections and helps avoid a possible short if the cord is yanked.
  • Replace the access panel on the back of the dryer.
Test the Dryer
Person turning on a dryer
  • Double check that the power to the dryer outlet is turned off.
  • Plug the dryer into the outlet.
  • Turn on the power to the outlet and test your dryer.

A 3-prong dryer cord was the standard prior to 2000, at which point the National Electrical Code requires 4-prong dryer outlets in all new home construction. Existing homes may still use 3-prong outlets.

The switch to a 4-prong outlet was made to overcome a flaw in the 3-prong outlet which, due to a design that has ground and neutral wires contained in the same prong, has the potential to allow a current to find its way onto the ground wire. The 4-prong dryer cord is comprised of two hot wires, a neutral wire and a ground wire. This creates a separate return path for unused current. Dryer cords are usually a maximum of 6 feet long as the code requires that an outlet be within 6 of the connected appliance.