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I've really been at a loss trying to figure this out. Quick backstory: GF moved into apartment built prior to NEC code change so it has a 3 prong outlet. Her GE Profile dryer had a 4 prong plug attached. I may ask the complex to see if they will update the outlet to a 4 prong, but assume that doesn't happen. This is a second floor apartment and the device is in a cramped laundry closet.

I opened up the back panel and the terminal block was oriented in a bizarre way from anything I've seen online. This is a used dryer so she doesn't have the owner's manual and I couldn't find anything for this model number (DPSR473EV0WW) on GE's instruction manual/owner's guide website.

I disconnected the 4 prong including the green wire from the ground screw. I was expecting to find an internal ground wire from inside the dryer that I could reconnect to the ground screw, but there was no green wire to be found. I went ahead and hooked up the 3 prong as shown:

enter image description here

https://imgur.com/lB5jhRH (closeup)

You might be wondering why the 3 prong is threaded behind the terminal block and it's because there wasn't enough slack (or enough room) in the 3 prong heads to connect them on the slanted terminal block when coming in from the right side. Hopefully this isn't an issue.

My bigger question though concerns the yellow wire which I currently have attached to the ground screw. The yellow wire (barely visible in the second image) was originally connected to the neutral terminal along with a white wire (red wire fed the top, black wire fed the bottom). I have no idea what this yellow wire is. Is it it the ground? Should I connect it as I have done to the ground screw or is it something else I need to put back onto the neutral terminal? The back of the dryer discusses a ground strap which of course is long gone so I can go get one to connect neutral to the ground screw, but this yellow wire has me perplexed. I'm trying to do this right, but this GE design is really bizarre compared to all the guides online.

I'm leaning towards putting the yellow wire back on the neutral since I don't know specifically what it does. I've heard that ground straps are not recommended anymore as it may not actually ground the chassis, so I'm kind of at a loss for what to do to make this safe.

Any ideas or advice?

  • The yellow wire - is that the terminal to which the ground wire on the old 4 prong wire was connected? – The Evil Greebo Jul 24 '18 at 14:51
  • No, the yellow wire was mated to the neutral terminal along with a white wire when the 4 prong was attached. The 4 prong green ground wire was attached to the grounding screw. – Zolkalter Jul 24 '18 at 15:07
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    Yeah, it's a huge issue, you can't just poke it through a hole and go "la la la". Dryers vibrate. The edge of the hole will gouge the cable and eventually make contact with the chassis, which is not properly grounded after all! Measure the hole diameter, measure the cable's wide dimension, and armed with those, head down to a proper electrical supply house and buy a strain relief fit for that hole and cable. – Harper Jul 24 '18 at 16:17
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Functionally what you do is get a jumper to connect the ground to the neutral since the outlet for 3 prong doesn't have its own ground. Take a look at Harper's answer here

  • This "jumper" is what the ground strap that is missing would be for. Once the jumper is in place, the yellow wire can go under the ground screw or the neutral terminal since they will be connected anyway. – JPhi1618 Jul 24 '18 at 18:40
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The cord you tore off was a NEMA 14-30. I hope you saved it. The old style was NEMA 10-30. NEMA 10 will never be safe, it is defective by design, because it is literally bootlegging ground. On any other appliance, bootlegging ground is considered "not even stupid", but the appliance makers lobbied for an exception in Code so that appliance sales wouldn't be hurt by a need to upgrade wiring.

I don't know what to tell you in a tenant unit. Any safety improvement will require landlord blessing.

The easiest and surest way is to replace the dryer's circuit breaker with a 2-pole GFCI breaker. GFCI is a magic wand that fixes (or renders safe) so many hard wiring problems. The dryer will still shock you, just the GFCI will shut it off instantly. About $80.

Other than that, easiest to retrofit a ground wire from the socket to anywhere in the equipment safety grounding system (ground wires or metal conduit, the wires must be at least 10 AWG) .... or grounding electrode system (the thick bare wires going from panel to ground rods or water piping). Once a ground wire is retrofitted, change the receptacle to NEMA 14-30. Don't let neutral touch ground!

The hardest way is to pull the entire 10/3/noground cable and replace it with a 10/3/withground cable all the way back to the panel.

The dirty cheat would be "ground to the washing machine socket"; that only has a #12 or #14 ground wire, and you're not allowed to downsize ground wires on 30A or smaller circuits. I can't say if this is better or worse than NEMA 10 as-is.

  • Should I delete my answer since I just reference your answer to a previous question? – Dean MacGregor Jul 24 '18 at 16:56
  • @Dean no no no, keep it! What I say there is quite different than what I say here. And the graphics in that other are better. – Harper Jul 24 '18 at 17:03
  • Thank you. I'll try and get the complex to update to the current up to code outlet. I personally don't feel comfortable enough upgrading any of this on my own--even with their blessing. – Zolkalter Jul 24 '18 at 17:46
  • @Zolkalter, I seriously doubt they are going to update any wiring for you. Anyone else would just install the three prong outlet with the jumper. The manual the dryer came with probably had instructions telling you to do it that way, and if it's good enough for the manufacturer, the landlord isn't going to spend money on it. – JPhi1618 Jul 24 '18 at 18:27
  • I think you're probably right! – Zolkalter Jul 24 '18 at 19:22
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The only "right answer" is to ask the complex to upgrade the outlet. Anything else and you risk the liability if there's a problem.

  • And it isn't even necessary to replace the cable back to the panel; they're allowed to retrofit a single ground wire back to the panel, or anywhere with a #10 or larger ground, or even the grounding electrode system (those copper wires going out to ground rods or water pipes). Random water pipes won't do, they may not be all-metal, there may be PVC or PEX segments, or in the future the water company may upgrade you to a smart meter, which is made of plastic. – Harper Jul 24 '18 at 16:28

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