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How to Troubleshoot a Dryer Circuit and Outlet Problem

How to Fix Your Electric Dryer Problems: The Most Common Problems with Electric Dryers and How to Fix Them.


Guide to Electric Dryer Problems and How to Fix Them

Electrical Question: I moved into my rental home and plugged my dryer in last Thanksgiving. Three weeks ago my clothes dryer wouldn’t start.

  • A friend came over and stuck some tester in the holes of the outlet and said it was bad because there was no power.
  • He obviously had to pull the plug to insert his device and when he did he saw a burn on the bottom prong of the 4 prong plug, which he said made no sense as that isn’t even supposed to be hot.
  • The arc had also left black soot on the wall around the area of the outlet. He said the receptacle could have a loose or crossed or nicked wire and even sometimes outlets just go bad.
  • The power comes through the receptacle, through the outlet and arcs at the plug? I am trying to comprehend the order of events as
  • I now have a dryer that won’t work PLUS a house that didn’t trip a circuit breaker and that is freaking me out.

This electrical wiring question came from Amy, in Mesa, Arizona.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Amy.
The dryer circuit and wiring of the dryer outlet will require a series of inspections and repairs as indicated below. Until the problem has been identified and repaired the dryer circuit should be turned off.

How to Fix Your Electric Dryer Problems

Application: Troubleshooting a 240 Volt Dryer Circuit.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best repaired by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the 240v dryer circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before making inspections, electrical wiring repairs or wiring modifications.

The Most Common Problems with Electric Dryers and How to Fix Them.
As an electrician, here’s what I would do to repair a dryer circuit or dryer outlet problem:

  • Inspecting a Dryer Circuit
    • As mentioned above I would make sure the dryer circuit is turned OFF, then I would remove the dryer outlet and inspect the wiring.
    • Because there has been some arcing and there are signs of black soot I would pay close attention to the circuit wiring  to make sure it is correct, and the connections of the wires where they attach to the dryer plug to make sure the wiring configuration is also correct.

Guide to Dryer Circuit Problems and How to Fix Them

  • Inspecting a Dryer Circuit
    • As mentioned above I would make sure the dryer circuit is turned OFF, then I would remove the dryer outlet and inspect the wiring.
    • Because there has been some arcing and there are signs of black soot I would pay close attention to the circuit wiring  to make sure it is correct, and the connections of the wires where they attach to the dryer plug to make sure the wiring configuration is also correct.
  • The Dryer Outlet
    • If the dryer plug has sustained damage then I would install a new one once I have verified that the dryer circuit wiring is correct.
  • The Dryer Cord
    • I would also inspect the dryer cord to make sure the connections to the dryer wiring terminals are correct and that the dryer is properly grounded and bonded in all the required areas.
    • The dryer cord should be inspected to see if there are any signs of damage, such as hot melting marks around the prongs or any indications that the cord has overheated.
    • If any of these problems are found then I would replace the dryer cord to prevent any future problems.
  • Dryer Circuit Voltage Test
    • Once all of these components of the dryer circuit wiring have been verified, tested and repaired then the dryer circuit would be turned back on and and additional voltage tests would be made and verified.
    • The circuit is tested for the reading of 220 to 240 volts between the two power sources, and 110 to 120 volts between each power source to ground and each power source to the neutral.
  • Dryer Circuit Inspection at the Electrical Panel
    • PLEASE NOTE: Only Qualified Electricians should perform electrical panel inspections and repairs.
    • If the voltage tests are not correct then I would inspect the dryer circuit wiring at the electrical panel.
    • Verify that the integrity of the dryer circuit cable and wiring is correct as a dedicated 240 volt 30 amp circuit.
    • Verify that the circuit breaker wire connections are correct for each wire of the circuit.
    • Verify that the circuit breaker is not damaged or that the connections to the panel are not corroded or damaged. Damage of a circuit breaker and the panel will require further inspections and professional repairs.
    • Verify the connection of the neutral wire to the main neutral terminal strip.
    • Verify the connection of the ground wire to the grounded terminal strip.Inspect and verify that the electrical system is properly grounded and bonded as required.

More about Wiring a Dryer Circuit and Dryer Cord

How to Wire a Dryer Cord
clothes-dryer-wiring

3-Wire and 4-Wire Configurations for Clothes Dryers

See an electric dryer installation with a typical 220 Volt electric power cord wiring system. You may find yourself with either a 3-wire or 4-wire electric dryer, or a 3-wire or 4-wire outlet. Lets look a how the electric dryer is wired and what to do if your cord does not match the plug.

Using Electrical Testers
digital-tester

Understanding Electrical Testers

When working on home electrical wiring using voltage testers can play an important part in electrical safety. Electrical testers enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
Types of Electrical Testers
Using Electrical Testers


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