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Old 09-02-2008, 03:33 PM   #1
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220 outlet/dryer question

Howdy...so when my wife and I moved in to her grandparents' old place, there was a maybe 20 year old electric clothes dryer (that goldenrod color) that worked fine...up until last week, when it stopped running. So we had an extra one that her parents had gotten from a neighbor, and swapped it in. Unfortunately it would run fine, but was only blowing cold air. Also, the timer never moved - so it would just run for hours. I figured it was just old and worn out also, so we dug my wife's old dryer from her apartment out of storage...son of a gun but it's doing the same thing - blowing cold air and the timer is not moving. Now this dryer is only maybe 5-7 years old, and was working fine 2 years ago before we put it in storage (that's why we saved it).
So I'm wondering, since the wiring is kinda old and funky around here, is it possible for 1 leg of the 220 outlet to have power but not the other? Does one 110 leg run the motor, and the other run the timer and heating elements? The outlet is one of those old 3 prong 220 ones - I have a voltmeter, but the voltage seems to be jumping around somewhere around 120 on each leg... but it should read 110-120 between each of the bottom 2 holes in the outlet and the top hole, right?
That I have, but when I run the voltmeter between the 2 bottom holes, it fluctuates around maybe 60v. I hate to buy a new dryer, but it also seems odd that 3 dryers including a previously known good one would behave like that..
The dryer is run off an OLD mini panel with 4 35 amp barrel fuses, 2 for each 110 leg. I have replaced all 4 fuses to no avail.

Now here's where it gets even sketchier: that 220 panel is run directly off the main fusebox (yes I mean fuesbox - not breakers) and shares a common (white) wire with another circuit. Re-reading I see I haven't mentioned that this is in a separate outbuilding about 40 feet from the main house. There is another 110v mini breakerpanel out there with 4 circuits - 1 to the outlets & lights in the outbuilding, 1 to the wellhouse for a pump, light, and outlet, and 2 more to other outbuildings for lights. This is the circuit which shares the common wire with the 220 dryer panel.

So, wading through all this, any thoughts besides rewiring it all?
All advice and help greatly appreciated.


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Old 09-02-2008, 05:48 PM   #2
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You need a meter and you need to check the voltage. I believe your first idea is probably correct. You have one of the hot legs out. The motor runs off 120 only so it could be running with one leg out. The timer probably rund off the other hot leg so that would account for why it was not running. Sounds like there are several possible places this could be the problem from the dryer receptacle to the fuse panels.
There is nothing wrong a fuse panel if you don't over fuse it.


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Old 09-02-2008, 06:20 PM   #3
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is it possible for 1 leg of the 220 outlet to have power but not the other? Does one 110 leg run the motor, and the other run the timer and heating elements?
Yes and yes.

You should read 240v between the 2 hot legs (the paralell slots) and 120 between each leg and the neutral/ground (the "L" shaped slot).

You may have a blown fuse, tripped breaker or bad connection somewhere.

A typical dryer circuit goes from the pane, directly to the outlet so there are only two places for connections to fail. Your installation may be more difficult.
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