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Ask Craig Your Own Question
Craig, Electrical Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 4529
Experience:  33 years experience electrical troubleshooting industrial equipment and control systems.
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I attempted to convert a 4 prong plug whirlpool dry into a

Customer Question

I attempted to convert a 4 prong plug whirlpool dry into a 3 prong plug dryer so it would fit my dryer outlet. First off I know what I was doing and can go further into detail, however now I get now power at all. The dryer worked before I operated on it, and it worked after I operated on it until I screwed the wire bracket into place to close it up, then it mysteriously stopped working. So I'd open it up, and it worked again, and again when closed it up, stopped. Eventually this stopped happening, and now it doesn't work at all whether it is opened up or put back together. Another interesting fact is collectively the 2 feeder wires equal 240V~, however separately before connecting to the dryer they equal 75ish V~ when tested using the neutral wire using a multimeter. Even more interesting, one of the feeder wires while connected to the dryer barely reads anything, while the other reads 240V~ both measured separately. Now I get nothing. It was a straight forward operation.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  sirsparks replied 7 years ago.
Hi, Make sure you have reconnected the metal bridge inside which straps the neutral wire to ground and check the wire about the clamp point to make sure it is not damaged
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Here is the thing, first, I thought the bridge looked more plasticy.... in any case, I took the bridge out and just butt spliced the 3 wires together (feeder to feeder, neutral, feeder to feeder) One feeder wire from the dryer was black, another read, and the white wire is neutral. The center wire from the new cord is the one I was calling neutral (leads to the L shaped prong) and the other to wires were "hot" and connected to the black and red feeder wires. There is no ground except the external and the neutral wire. The external ground wire was never removed or messed with. It is a green wire with a yellow strip and bolts onto the outside of the dryer to a medal panel in the back of the dryer. Remember this is a 3 prong. not a 4, so their is no 4th ground prong or wire that would normally attach to the same location as the neutral wire (which was where it initially was before I removed the 4 prong cord).

If the bridge is plastic, then it serves no purpose I assumed other then a place holder, to hold the mounts where the cord screws into the wires. So I removed it, and took plastic butt splice peices to connect each wire seperate from each other.

A wierd thing that occured initially... Before I did away with that bridge peice and made use of it, screwing all the wires from the cord into each given spot, the dryer actually turned on with the bridge not connected by the 2 screws that holds it into place, but whne I screwed it in to its place while closing the dryer up (when I thought I was done) the dryer stopped working. Again it worked before I messed with it at my parents house. they had a 4 prong outlet, and the dryer was initially 4 prong, but my outlet at my place is for a 3 prong plug, so I had to convert it. It worked at my parents place, and like I said, powered up a couple of times after the conversion at my place. But now nothing. Only thing that changed between when it worked and didn't work is that I mounted the bridge back in its place, and removed it.

Another interesting thing is that the outlet's output, when you use a multimeter set to V~ is collectively 240V (which is normal), but then you stick on lead of the multimeter in a hot port, and the other lead into neutral, I only get a reading of 75ish V. Same with the other hot port and neutral. The breaker is set on the "on" position. First interesting point is shoulding each hot port connected with neutral seperately put out 120V?

Second interesting thing is when you test the wiring after each cord is connected to their appropriate wires with in the dryer then the power distribution changes. you put 1 lead from the multimeter on neutral and then on the wire that attaches to the red feeder wire in the dryer, you get a reading of 240V. which I thought should be 120V. Then you do the same test on the other wire, so one lead of the multimeter on neutral, the other lead on the black feeder wire, you get a reading of hardly anything... So disconnected from the dryer, the power is even, but when connected to the dryer it seems like 1 wire (the red one) takes all the juice, while the other (black one) gets none.

I work for the state as more or less an electrical engineer, but this has me alittle baffled. I am not exactly an electrical engineer. I don't have a degree, but I work on internal and external A/C and D/C (mostly D/C) electronic devices. Mostly dealing with vehicles. so dryers aren't exactly my specialty, however, I am semi knowledgable and inclined.

I appreciate any help. Thanks!
Expert:  sirsparks replied 7 years ago.
OK I am going to opt out and get you to an Expert more experienced with these dryers. Good luck
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I also wanted to clearify, that the dryer did work after I converted from a 4 prong outlet plug t oa 3 prong, but only when all wires were connected to their appropriate places on the bridge and the bridge not attached to its places where it mounts to the dryer.
Expert:  Craig replied 7 years ago.
First thing you do is discard the old pigtail and buy a new 3 wire cord. The one you have is damaged , that's why the voltage is off. Look at the photo and install it the same. That's it, it is a very simple connection, try not to make it more difficult for yourself.


Edited by Craig on 12/1/2009 at 5:45 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
No the cord (3 prong pig tail) is fine. I just bought it yesterday from home depot. And the power transfer through it the same.

I tested the outlet directly with the multimeter. With the black lead from the multimeter in the neutral port, and the red lead in one "hot" port I get a 75V~ reading. If I take that red lead out and move it to the other "hot" port leaving the black lead in the neutral port, I still get a 75V~ reading. If I take the black lead and put it in a "hot" port, and then put the red lead in the other "hot" port, I get a 240V~ read.

then, with the dry disconnected from the cord I bought, I plugged the cord into the outlet, and tested each wire in the same pattern and get the same readings. This means the cord itself is fine and the problem is with in the dryer. the only mentionable thing here is that the output is 240V~ together but 75V~ seperate... That doesn't add up. But like I said, when it was connected, it did work a handful of times... The lights came on when I push a button (the dryer is digital). So the power I suppose is suficient, at least enough to light it up. Now though it doesn't even do that. It only wouldn't work when I reassembled the bridge piece back its place. But now, it doesn't work at all anymore.

When the cord I bought is connected the dryer to each respective wire (hot, neutral, hot), then the power suddenly seems to distribute differently... The red wire draws 240V~, while the black wire draws next to nothing.... But when it is disconnected, the power splits evenly at 75V~ each, 240V~ together.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Ok so there is an update...

I just retested the outlet itself on the wall.

I don't understand where I got 75V~ from or if something changd, but this time around I got 240V~ collectively from both hot ports together, and 120V~ from each hot port seperately using the neutral port. This makes total sense.

So now, with said I will further retest everything and make more updates.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I just tested the 3 prong pig tail bought from home depot yesterday connected to the dryer and confirmed that the red wire from the dryer that connects to one of the hot feeder wires from the pigtail gets 240V~, and that the black wire from the dryer connected to the other hot feeder wire from the pig tail gets no voltage at all.I plan to detach the pigtail and do more testing, to include swaping which hot wire goes to the red wire, and the black wire, leaving the neutral connected.

By doing this, I will see if the black wire gets the 240V~ and red wire nothing this time, or if the red continues to get the 240V~ and the black wire still nothing. Or if on any outside chance the power distributes the way it should, though I don't see why that would happen.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
So I disconnected my butt splices and test the pig tail cord bought from home depot with it plugged in and not connected to the dryer in any way other then the neutral wire. I left the neutral connected.

Both hot wires of the pig tail cord read 90V~ seperately, and 240V~ together.

However, once again, when I connected the pigtail's hot wires to the red and to the black feeder wires of the dryer, the red wire reads 240V~, and the black wire reads nothing. It didn't even matter if I swapped which wire got either hot cord from the pig tail. The red wire always read 240V~, and black wire always read nothing.

I don't think the pig tail is to blame. I think it is something inside the dryer.

I also wanted to clearify that I am only connecting the red wire to a hot wire from the pig tail, the black wire to a hot wire from the pig tail, and the white wire to the center neutral wire from the pig tail that connects to the 'L' shaped prong. Not using or connecting any other wires... However... There is a green ground wire that was already there that I never messed with, it doesn't connect to either the red, black nor white wire as far as I can see. the ground wire connects to the back of the dry on a metal panel. I am not exactly sure where the other end of the green ground wire touches. I leads inward inside the dryer where I can't follow it any further with out further dissassembling the dryer.