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Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/19/2008 7:20 AM

Yesterday my wife phoned me at work and screamed "The oven's on fire!" I had to get my 15 year old son on the phone and guide him through the procedures to turn off the breaker. Idiot that I am, I haven't made the effort to label all the breakers in the panel.

After all, I've only lived in the house for 16 years.

The power got shut off. The fire subsided. The wife got a new stove. Everything is good up to this point. Since the breakers were not labeled, I told my son to turn off all double breakers. I'm proud of his cool head in this little emergency.

Now for the problem: The electric dryer will not turn on. I reset all the double breakers. Still no power. Can someone please give me some guidance on what steps to take from this point on? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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#1

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 7:33 AM

Is the drier hard-wired to a spur, or does it have a pluggable connection?

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 7:54 AM

It has a plug mounted behind it on the wall.

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#2

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 7:35 AM

Hello NoEngr

Because you have lived in that house for 16 years, and the circuit breakers have not been operated, you will probably find that the breaker supplying the electric dryer circuit has developed a faulty mechanism, caused by an internal spring being under constant tension all that time.

Repair method: Plug in a portable light into each outlet in turn, turn off breaker/s until the light goes off - label the breaker accordingly.

Repeat for all circuits, and label.

Among this testing, you will discover the faulty breaker, remove and replace with new breaker - label it, of course.

This mechanical failure of circuit breakers, when never switched on and off, is far more common than most people realise.

Your 15 year old son is to be commended for prompt action, and with some small instruction, should be able to do the above work, with your able assistance.

Kind Regards....

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 7:58 AM

I am one of those that didn't realize the breakers could fail because they have not been operated. How often should one trip and reset the breakers to avoid this failure? And THANKS FOR THE TIPS!!

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 10:39 PM

I would say not to trip the breakers electrically...

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/20/2008 5:57 AM

I agree with you regarding not intentionally tripping a breaker electrically. I believe that each time a thermal-magnetic breaker is tripped electrically, as a result of an overload condition, the trip setpoint changes slightly due to deformation of the bi-metal strip.

For large ACBs used in industrial applications, it is recommended to overhaul or replace a breaker once it has tripped as a result of a fault condition.

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#13
In reply to #5

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/20/2008 3:24 AM

Circuit breakers often fail because their lubricant dries out. This most often happens if the panel is mounted in a hot area, outside, exposed to direct sunlight or moisture or both. Sometimes it just happens because of the cussedness of mechanical devices. Not all circuit breakers trip in the same way, and some must be turned "off" before they will reset.

If your circuit breaker resists you, a squirt of silicone lubricant will sometimes make it friendlier. Never force a breaker. You can sometimes persuade a reluctant breaker; you will never repair a broken one.

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#23
In reply to #2

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/20/2008 10:38 AM

hello sparkstation, as much as i respect you and your knowledge it is apparent the enquierer really has limited knowledge about the hardwiring of his house, just follow the directions of post 16.

i don't know about you but by looking at the blade side of the breaker it appears there is another side to the problem the panel itself. having had a 550 panel explode i bagan to nose around about the condition of the feed lines fronm the mast. two things showed up,

i) the panel had a mix of copper and alluminum wires in the box

ii) the main disconnect had somehow been arced along the feed rail to the breaker knife blade edge, that was where a power surge caused the side of a VERY OLD NEVER TRIP TESTED breaker ( WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC?)short melted the blade and the panel blew. beeeeg messy.

the guy would be better getting a state licensed elcetrical copntractor into look at the panel and the feed wires to and from it. there will be a few bucks involved in it but the cost not only to himself and his family will be worth it. the cost to him for the rest of his and his familyis life due to a easily supported suit for negligence in not caring for his premises is something that can't be ignored.

'da ber

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#28
In reply to #23

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/23/2008 10:44 PM

Good point!

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#3

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 7:50 AM

FWIW, I'll second Sparkstation's answer. Odds are you have an iffy breaker.

I have a similar misbehaving breaker that gives me grief almost every time I manually trip it. A safe and sane person would replace it, but in my case I seem to enjoy the aggrivation of swearing murder on the breaker while I frantically flip it back and forth until it finally works.

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 8:19 AM

Careful!

Your dryer is going to probably be 240V and a normal light isn't going to help you on trouble shooting the outlet.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 8:46 AM

The dryer is definitely 240. I won't have any trouble figuring out which breaker to replace. I have 4 dipole breakers. I know which 2 go to the air conditioners. That leaves 2 more; one to the stove and one to the dryer. I will flip one of them. If the stove stays on, I found it. If the stove goes off, it's the other one. Thanks for your interest.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 9:34 AM

you mite find that it will reset. When it was turn off it may have not been pushed fully to the off position allowing it not to reset when turned on. As Sparkstation has commented on the worn spring it is suppose to return the lever all the way some times they don't. Try it will get you by until you get a replacement.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/19/2008 10:07 AM

I've tried it several times, but there will no harm in trying one more time before I spend some $$ on it. Thanks!

"Guest" said he had a similar problem. I might be the type who would "enjoy the aggravation of swearing murder on the breaker", but my wife is not of that ilk. For me, I would be better off being "a safe and sane person who would replace it".

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#17
In reply to #6

Re: Help with no power to electric dryer

06/20/2008 9:19 AM

Good advise, "Be careful." However, you CAN check the outlet wiith a normal electric light. The outlet has two "hot" openings and a "ground" opening. If you insert one wire from the light in one of the "hot" openings and the other lead in the "ground" opening, the light will light if power is available. Then repeat with the other opening. Again, "don't try this at home." is the best advice, especially if you are not familiar and comfortable with electricity.

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#11

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/19/2008 11:32 PM

I would have actually said to get a "Qualified electrical installer"

As there are heafty fines delivered by the OECI (assuming Victoria Australia) or the regulating body in the state/territory that you live.

If your a A-Grade electrician, your permitted to change the faulty CB's

If your a D-Grade electrician, your only permitted to change over load bearing devices with exactly the same unit (Incadescant globe are load bearing, Fluro's are not deemed load bearing, as well as CB's and switches)

If your going to change the CB's yourself, just remember you'll be playing with a LIVE panel, as the input side of the CB is usually still live, unless you pull the main fuses from the electrical supply box on the front of your house or power pole, get caught doing that and you'll possibly wish you didn't,

If you ignore all this, make sure 200% sure that ALL that you disconnect and anything nearby is electrically DEAD, short the rails to ground as an added precaution (after isolating the infeed power, brigt Blue lights, lots of smoke will draw attention to you that also you may not wish to happen)

The Lanson RCD (ELCB/RCD/whatever) tells me in the instructions that you should "test-trip" the device once a month every month to confirm its ability to function correctly.

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#19
In reply to #11

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 9:52 AM

Thanks to all of you for helping out on this little project. Thought you might like to see my little discovery

...Top View ......................... Left Side

Right Side

Bottom

The circuit breaker was a Sylvania. Of course, they don't make them anymore, but I was able to find a GE that fit just fine. Problem solved.

But the timing of this failure remains a mystery. The heating element in the oven of our electric stove catches fire. It burns until my son trips the breaker. The dryer all of a sudden won't work (now we know the reason). Is the failure of the cct breaker for the dryer just a coincidence?

Guest (post #16) said "you obviously have no idea what the hell you are doing". I admit I am not an electrician. I worked for years installing and wiring relay and control equipment in large electrical distribution substations. I have "helped" to wire several homes. I know enough to switch off the main breaker panel before working on it. I have previously added several circuits to this panel.

That being said, compared to many posters I am a novice. I do appreciate everyone's input and help. This failure still remains a mystery to me and if anyone can shed light on it, through your vast and varied experiences, I'd like to hear from you.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 10:04 AM

The circuit breaker had "failed" long ago. It was simply waiting for someone or something to disturb it. It was just "hanging in there" . Many mechanical devices are prone to that disposition. As long as no one touches anything, they work, but the minute they are moved in any way, they fail to accomplish the task for which they are installed. Consider yourself lucky that the failure wasn't found via a fire or other damage.

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 10:14 AM

First guess would be that you suffered an extended sag in line voltage. Both units that failed were resistive loads. Low voltage will result in higher current which would increase the amperage draw. The failed breaker obviously overheated, meaning it did not trip when expected...

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 10:25 AM

"Both units that failed were resistive loads. Low voltage will result in higher current which would increase the amperage draw."

Not true! That is true only for inductive loads such as motors and flourescent fixtures with magnetic ballasts.

Resistive loads will draw less current with decreased voltage per Ohm's law E=IR. Re-arranging the equation to solve for current I=E/R, you can see that a reduction in voltage results in a proportional reduction in current.

However, the clothes dryer does have a motor in it in addition to the resistive heaters.

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#27
In reply to #19

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/21/2008 12:16 AM

Hi NoEngr,

It really "blew" didn't it? I would add a couple more things. If you have aluminum wiring to the dryer, make sure the outlet is rated for it. It will have "Cu/Al" marked on the back somewhere, indicating it is rated for copper and aluminum. Also make sure the connections are tight. If this breaker was to the dryer, then it probably happened when your son turned it off. You're lucky you didn't have two fires.

Regards,

S

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#30
In reply to #19

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/26/2008 12:00 AM

No matter how much you have done in the past, the fact remains, your not qualified to do what your doing, when something goes wrong, the first thing they will ask is "Who did the wiring" the second would be "Where is your certification"

For many years, I showed A-Grade electricians how to wire up motor control panels, and assisted in house/factory power wiring, but for legal reasons, a A-Grade had to supervise the work I did.

As to the fault, I have seen this before, and others have suggested, the mounting screw for the cable that was in that location was possibly not correctly tightened, causing heat, weakening, loosening then arc'ing of the joint creating more heat, then ultimately affecting the component housing.

If gone too far, you could have had a Electrical fire, tripping the main switch could have been dangerous, then if it did go too far, they would be asking who did the wiring and so forth.. not really worth it.

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#12

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 3:11 AM

If the clothes drier and the electric range are on the same branch circuit, and if the range outlet box was used as a junction box, this connection may have been disturbed as a result of the fire in the oven. Placing both of these appliances on the same branch circuit is unsafe and a code violation, but it has been done.

It may be that someone used a pair of single pole breakers to supply the 240 volt supply for the clothes drier. This is also unsafe and a code violation, but it doesn't stop those do-it-yourselfers who know just enough about electric wiring to get into trouble.

I just finished mapping breakers and outlets at our church, which has a fused switchboard, nine breaker panels, and about three hundred outlets. Spreadsheets made it a much easier job. You can print several copies and keep them in places where they are easily accessible, and keep at least one where it won't get lost, on your computer.

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#15

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 6:48 AM

I would look for a 30 amp double pole breaker and turn it off completly and than turn it back on. To reset the breaker you have to turn it completely off and than back on. If it is not turned all the way off it will not reset. Breaker do go bad but I'll try this first.

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#16

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 8:22 AM

Step 1. Hire a electrician. You obviously have no idea what the hell you are doing. Your safety and the safety of your family is far more important than the few dollars that competant work will cost.

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#18

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 9:48 AM

Do you have a multimeter at home? I think the first step is to check if voltage is getting to your dryer. If no voltage, than start by turning off all of your double breakers to identify each one and know the one that should give you voltage to your dryer. If the breaker is the problem change it. After that check for loose connetions (false contacts) and if that doesn´t work, then check for blown fuses in your dryer.

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#24
In reply to #18

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 11:42 AM

The damage to the breaker would give me concerns about the condition of the stabs on the panel. I would stop where you are at and at least get someone qualified to look at it. Amps are amps--Amps in amps out. My guess is that your breaker failed closed(welding the contacts) and then BURNED open, and what ever caused it to overload and need to trip again(when it didn't and burned up) is possibly still in the circuit---DON"T TAKE ANYONES WORD FOR IT--Find out with a professional who can look at it. You don't need this kind of thing to happen when your family is sleeping. Get help.

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#25

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 2:09 PM

Hello

A test of circuits in a larger building would be to plug in a radio with its volume control turned way up & plugged into the citcuit being tested while you flip breakers or change fuses. This can save many trips up & down stairs.

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/20/2008 8:42 PM

Hello Doug

The great advantage of not being 70 years in the past, and having to use a valve (electron tube) radio is there is no waiting for the 30+ seconds of "warm-up" time.

So these days, your "radio method" is far better, but still requires a second person to move the radio from outlet to outlet.

Kind Regards....

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#29
In reply to #26

Re: Help with No Power to Electric Dryer

06/23/2008 10:54 PM

Typical warm-up time was/is 11 seconds. I still have a tube short wave radio.

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