How to Wire an Electric Dryer Outlet

laundry room with a washing machine
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Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Some older homes don't come equipped with outlets wired properly to handle the load of a clothes dryer. Fortunately, adding an outlet to handle this essential appliance is easy for a do-it-yourself homeowner who has strong knowledge of basic wiring. To do this, you'll need to know how to work with electrical circuits and wires. If you are not certain how to handle this DIY project or feel at all out of your depth, it is best to have this work done by a professional electrician.

Before You Begin

Make certain you are not working with live wires. Turn off the power at the main service panel. This means either flipping the appropriate breaker or removing the correct fuse. Use the voltage tester to ensure the power is off before proceeding with any of the steps outlined below.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Razor knife
  • Side-cutting pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Voltage tester

Materials

  • Wire clamp
  • Outlet cover plate

Instructions

  1. Separate the Wires

    Gently tug the wires out of the box. Using a razor knife, carefully score between the conductors. Be careful not to nick the insulation of the wires when cutting.

    Use side-cutting pliers to trim the excess sheathing from the wire. Remove the paper filler between the wires. This leaves the wires exposed and ready for use.

  2. Strip the Individual Wire Conductors

    Using the wire stripper, select the properly-sized cutter hole for the wire you are working with. Position the stripper over the wire and squeeze the handles. Twist the strippers slightly back and forth to loosen the insulation. Pull away from you and the piece of insulation that you are cutting should slide right off. Do the same with the remaining wires.

    Warning

    Never pull the wire strippers or razor knife toward your body. You could injure yourself easily if they slip off the wire.

  3. Connect the Wires to the Terminals

    To connect wires to the terminals on the dryer receptacle, unscrew the screws on the terminal connections. Insert the stripped wires into the terminal slots and tighten the screws snugly. Tug on the wire to be sure the connections are tight.

    The wires should be stripped sufficiently to ensure there is bare wire, without insulation, under each of the connections points. Be sure not to have excess bare wire under these connection points that could be a hazard or a point to short out the connection

    Tip

    On the receptacle, the brass-colored terminals are for the "hot" wires. The black wire connects to the left terminal, and the red wire connects to the right terminal. The silver-colored terminal is for the neutral or neutral/ground connection. The white wire connects to this terminal.

  4. Attach the Wire Clamp

    Insert half of the clamp into the receptacle box hole. This part of the clamp will be the one with smaller holes. Place it on the bottom of the wire. Now, install the other half of the clamp into the hole on the top side of the wire.

    Squeeze the two halves together with pliers and install the two Phillips-head screws. Tighten the connection snugly and then tug at the wire to be sure that it is secure. Be sure that there are no nicks in the wire coatings or exposed wires within the clamp itself. Be careful not to pinch any of the wires while tightening the clamp.

  5. Install the Outlet Cover Plate

    Slide the cover over the outlet and press it into place. Insert the retaining screw and tighten with a screwdriver. Do not over-tighten because the cover may break. Plumb the cover plate for a more professional look.

  6. Test the Outlet

    Turn on the power to the dryer outlet.

    Turn the voltage tester on and set the selector to AC volts. Adjust the setting to the 240-volt setting or the next highest setting. Insert the test leads into the two top "hot" slots in the ​receptacle. These are the two slots that are tipped at a 45-degree angle.

    The voltage should read between 220-240 volts. Now read the voltage between each of the two hot leads to the neutral slot. This is the straight slot below the two "hot" slots. The voltage here should read between 110-120 volts.

    If all of these connections check out, you have a fully functioning dryer outlet.

Cutting Outer Sheath of Wire
The Spruce / Timothy Thiele
Stripping Wire Insulation
The Spruce / Timothy Thiele
Install a Wire Clamp
The Spruce / Timothy Thiele
Test a Dryer Outlet
The Spruce / Timothy Thiele