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.
Equipment / Tools
- Razor knife
- Side-cutting pliers
- Wire strippers
- Voltage tester
- Wire clamp
- Outlet cover plate
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.
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.
Never pull the wire strippers or razor knife toward your body. You could injure yourself easily if they slip off the wire.
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.
Install the Outlet Into the Box
Maneuver the wires back into the box and use the four screws to attach the outlet to the two gang box.
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.
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. You should read 110-120 volts when measuring between the round hole and either of the hot slots. Zero volts should be read when checking between the neutral slot and ground hole.
If all of these connections check out, you have a fully functioning dryer outlet.