Electric Dryer: Old Outlet for New Plugs
November 6, 2018 5:57 PM   Subscribe

I just moved into an apartment that has a hookup for an electric clothes dryer. However, I've been told that the outlet, an old-style 3-prong (Pic1; Pic2) was made obsolete about 15 years ago in favor of a four-prong outlet. Three-prong dryers are not made anymore. I need help in solving this puzzle.

- I have no idea what the "type" of outlet I am looking at is; the closest hint I have been given is that it is a "3-Wire Closed-Eyelet 30-Amp Dryer Cord" outlet. (It's listed as "30A, 125/250V" but there seemed to be many types of M/F prong-outlet combos. when I googled.)

- This is the meat of the question: I've been told that there are conversion kits, and that it's easy to find and install one in a newly-purchased dryer to replace its new four-prong cord with something fitting my particular three-prong outlet. Are there kits on the market you'd recommend? Tutorials you can point me toward?

- Having the landlord install a new outlet is a non-starter. (He laughed.)

- I would like to avoid CraigsListing for an older model with this specific setup.

posted by not_on_display to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
the adaptor you want
posted by zippy at 6:11 PM on November 6, 2018

Different question, same needs.
posted by rhizome at 6:12 PM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

old outlets weren't grounded, new ones are. while i am sure team safety will jump on me for this, i'll point out that the dryer will work whether or not you actually wire the ground.
posted by zippy at 6:13 PM on November 6, 2018

(i got it wrong - old outlets were grounded through neutral, new ones use a different mechanism. please carry on)
posted by zippy at 6:16 PM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

You need to change your current cord to a new 4 prong dryer cord. Lowe's and Home Depot carry them. Directions will be in the packaging. It's pretty easy to do. That's the safest thing to do.
posted by i_like_camels at 6:16 PM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Using an adapter is easy, common, and not a thing really. However, I would not use that outlet, even with an adapter (which I normally would), because there is some nasty scoring on the righthand side; this might mean there was an electrical issue with it. That plug looks like its been through some shit. I'm...lets say, somewhat liberal when it comes to electrical shortcuts and creative solutions up to and including cool retrofits and two-outlet-to-one-extension-cord things to get 220 where you can't normally. I wouldn't use this for a dryer, at least not without having my rental insurance paid way up.

I just got some really similar work done, granted not in your area, but it only ran $250 plus some extra for the permit.

Also, based on your profile location, your landlord has to fix this shit. They can't laugh at you (well, they can, but they still have to fix sketchy wiring). Failure to maintain in safe operating condition any facilities fixtures and systems listed in 105 CMR 410.351, and shoddy electrical work is covered under that. Contact some Tenants rights organizations.

The landlord just might not want to deal with it (uhg), so I would approach the landlord and offer to save the receipts and have it deducted from your rent.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:23 PM on November 6, 2018 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Too late to edit! I meant you need to purchase a new 3 prong dryer cord
posted by i_like_camels at 6:23 PM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We just moved to a new place with a 3-prong dryer outlet and our dryer had a 4 prong plug. I went to Home Depot and bought a new plug for about $25. My not very handy husband installed it in about an hour. Easy peasy!
posted by apricot at 6:24 PM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I think I'll be visiting my local Home Despot soon, see if I can install one. I'll also point out the damage on the current outlet to him, and he'll probably come to the conclusion that he may have a dangerous electrical thing on his hands, and decide to throw a few hundred bucks at it to cover his ass.

(He's actually been responsive to my many fix requests, sometimes much more than I expected, and we're on good terms. He didn't laugh at me like I was asking an evil warden to grant me a pardon. He just laughed and asked, "Do you know any good electricians?" which to me, opens the door to the possibility I could call an electrician and have them do it, deduct from next month's.)

In any case, I have renter's insurance and a strong support network if his faulty outlet burns his place down.
posted by not_on_display at 8:12 PM on November 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sometimes the (bad) landlord solution is "you are not allowed to have a dryer", rather than "I will fix the scary outlet for you". I have a great landlord, and I asked if I could have a couple of new outlets installed in my bedroom at my expense. He said sure, and offered to split it. I didn't let him, because I am trying to stay here for another 10-15 years until I retire. But that's the right answer. I hired an electrician my landlord recommended and have nice new outlets. I'm near Boston where everything is hella expensive, and the electrician sent a two man team, and installing two outlets cost $600 all told. Worth every penny. Consider it!
posted by clone boulevard at 8:42 PM on November 6, 2018

Best answer: Just want to add some additional oomph to furnace.heart above. Like, before you go to home depot for a new plug end... For real. Don't use that outlet. Definitely scored around the outside and the metal looks heavily oxydized/rusted and will only further make sparks or become resistive. As they stated, I too am a little casual about hacking electrical stuff to suit my needs and This is a legit. Fire. Hazard. Please rectify the outlet before any kind of plan to use. You're looking at around $200-$300 same day service. Worth it all day.
posted by chasles at 9:00 PM on November 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Definitely don't use that outlet. Contact tenants rights/landlord/electrician. I'm glad YOU have insurance, but not everyone does and fire isn't something to be so nonchalant about. It can seriously harm/kill you or your neighbors and property. Just don't use the outlet until it's actually fixed by a licensed professional.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:35 PM on November 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Adding my voice to the chorus strongly advising you to get that socket replaced with a modern 4 prong grounded one instead of trying to adapt to it.

Scorching like that is a sign of high temperature at the contact point inside the socket where the plug blade and the socket spring contacts fit together. That in turn is a sign of a high resistance contact at that point, caused by corrosion and/or pitting and arcing. And that in turn is both symptom and cause for loss of spring tension in the socket's internal contacts.

Once a socket starts to exhibit that kind of scorching, it's done. If ignored, the only way it ends is in an electrical fire.

And since the socket needs replacing anyway - not because it isn't up to modern code, but because it is blown and electrically unsafe - you should not spend money on any solution that involves continuing to use it. Get it replaced with a modern four prong grounded outlet that will be compatible with the cord your dryer already has.
posted by flabdablet at 11:17 PM on November 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You sound remarkably cavalier about the prospect of burning your house down. Upgrading that scary old 3-prong outlet with the scorch marks on it to a nice new 4-prong one is not much harder than swapping the cord on your dryer, although it's just tricky enough that you should get a qualified electrician to make sure it's done properly and that nobody gets killed in the process. Totally worth it to avoid burning your house down even, and it feels weird to even be saying this but here we are, with renter's insurance and a good support network.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:37 AM on November 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

My husband reminded me that our last rental also had a three prong outlet and we had the management company replace it. I'm not sure why we decided to replace the plug instead this time; probably because it was faster. At any rate, replacing the plug is easy but having your landlord replace the outlet is also a reasonable request.
posted by apricot at 6:41 AM on November 7, 2018

Response by poster: Yep, on second reading of this thread with more responses and in the sober morning hours: I am going to work with the landlord first to see if he'll replace the outlet, cause it looked sketchy to me too. If not, then I am remarkably cavalier about burning the house down (or going to laundromats).
posted by not_on_display at 7:06 AM on November 7, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks, folks. I just spoke with the landlord, who will contact his electrician. He had no idea the outlet looked damaged. HOUSE BURNING HAS BEEN CANCELLED
posted by not_on_display at 2:21 PM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

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