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KUIPORNG 06-14-2006 09:17 AM

How to handle circuit for washer/dryer relocation?
Hi everyone,

I am moving the washer/dryer from the first floor to basement, here is my question:

1. Can I hook up the new washer/dryer circuit to the existing one, that means double the load although we do not intend to plug in both first floor and basement washer/dryer at the same time as we are relocating them... Although code probably disallow this as they can claim there is a dangers of doing so ...

2. If answer to question 1 is negative, can I install a switch from the output from the panel where the wire can only connect to one set either first floor laundry room or basement laundry room, but not both, I don't know if there is such switch in big store like HD... Does code allow this?

3. If answer to question 2 is also negative, I kind of leave only two choices, I suppose, disable the existing circuit, and use existing it for the new location circuit, to do this I suppose I can disconnect the wire from the main panel and make the breaker connect to the new circuit. The other choice is to use a new breaker, the problem with this is our panel is very full, it is difficult to find empty slot to accomodate this, I don't want to install a subpanel either (just don't want he extra $$ and work..)...

Any advice for me to tackle this situation?

IvoryRing 06-14-2006 11:23 AM

You can have as many dryer outlets as you want. If you only have one dryer plugged in, than the other outlets just sit there. If you want to make it so nobody can 'accidentally' plug a dryer into the first floor, you would just change the box over to a junction box, and put a blank plate on it. Same with the washing machine.

Are you doing this work yourself? Having someone do it for you?

You could do a switch, but if your dryer is electric (vs. gas) then your switch will be on the expensive side.

KUIPORNG 06-14-2006 12:19 PM

Thank You
Thank You again IvoryRing.. Your idea is definitely the way for me to go.. I am doing it myself. For the other question to ask then... Is this the way to cut into an existing circuit for the existing washer or dryer:

1. I intend to find the breaker for the washer/dryer, then find its wire output, kind of don't know how to locate the wire except by physically pull the wire and see which one moved, as there are so many wire coming from the box which direct to behind a wood plate and out, Is there a better way to find the right wire? don't want to cut the wrong one...

2. assume I am able to locate the wire, do I just cut it and install a device box there which I can have one input to two output connection..

Is this the way to go, to be honest, I cannot think of another way...

well, may be direct from the existing washer to downstair, but this is too far away and waste too many wires and too much work...

IvoryRing 06-14-2006 02:13 PM

Real electricians will tell you that you are better off hiring a liscensed electrician to do this - and they are right.

Is this an all electric dryer? If so, it likely needs 240v, and your washer almost certainly needs 120v. This means that they likely are NOT on the same breaker, so you are really talking about 2 circuits, not 1. If it is not an all electric dryer, then likely you are talking about re-routing gas lines, which is outside my experience - I'd definitely say you need to have a pro do it.

If it is an all electric dryer, you'll likely need to follow this process twice, once for the 240v circuit, once again for the 120v circuit.

Is there already a water source and drain in the basement for the washer? Is there already a vent for the dryer exhaust?

Invest in a noncontact voltage detector ($10-15 at Home Depot). Use it every single time you are about to touch a conductor while doing this work. Even if you just checked 2 minutes ago. If it lights up, the conductor has line voltage (i.e. hot) and you must stop.

Understand that you are taking a significant risk by going down this road yourself with just Internet advice.

That said... yes, you can mount a junction box next to the breaker panel to split your circuit into two seperate branches. When the time comes, be sure to mount the box securely (I think the rule is something like being able to handle 50lbs of weight on the box). If it was me, I'd be using a 4square box, 2 NM cable clamps and a blank cover for this particular task. You'll also need (3 if the dryer is 120 - i.e. gas, 4 if it is 120/240 - i.e. all electric) wire nuts that can handle 3 conductors of the size your existing circuit takes.

Make a guess as to which wire is the one for the dryer. If the dryer is all electric, then the cable will likely be noticably thicker than normal circuits. It generally won't be as thick as the stove (if that's all electric) cable, and it may or may not be as thick as dedicated electric heater cables. Use the voltage detector to confirm that the wire is hot. Turn off the dryer breaker. Go to the dryer and confirm that it can't be turned on. Use the voltage detector at the outlet to confirm no voltage. Go back to the breaker panel, and see if the wire you guessed is now dead. If it is, you are good to go - wrap it with a bit of tape or something so you know which one in the future.

Now, you'll need a bit of slack in the cable - you need to be able to pull about a foot or so back - you want to end up with a new 'loop' of cable that's about 6 inches on each side in the spot where you are going to mount your box. If you can't get at least 4 inches of cable on either side of a loop, then you are going to have to either go into the panel itself (i.e. take the cover completely off, exposing line voltage conductors that are NOT protected, not just open the access door) - if that's the case, come back here, don't try to just guess and hope.

Now, you'd mount your box on the location you picked, mount the clamps in the knockouts in the box, confirm that the cable is not hot (with voltage detector), and cut it, route it through the clamps, strip back, wirenut the 3 (or 4) conductors - so 3 black, 3 white, (if 4 conductor, then 3 probably red). The bare (or green) conductor needs special treatment. You need a short length of bare (or green) conductor to go from a screw attached to the back of the box to the wirenut that will hold the existing 3 bare (or green) conductors. Don't forget to twist & tighten the bare ends of the conductors before you wirenut. Once the connections are made, neatly coil the wires & nuts back into the box, attach the blank plate and go wire up your new outlets in the basement (checking again for hot with your voltage detector). Only after everything is wired up can you flip the breaker back on.

KUIPORNG 06-14-2006 03:03 PM

Thanks agin Ivoryring... for the detail descriptions.. My situation is everything is electrical, I understand I need to do it twice, one for the dryer, and one for the washer....

I wish I can find a book with pictures and detail instructions on things you said.... anyhow... I have DIY so far including heating/plumbing/framing on the basement including water intake/outake for washer and vent exhaust for dryer and it passes the inspection... I have done some lights wiring already... and plan on attacking this washer/dryer challenge... well I understand what you said even it is so much stuff... I will cut and paste your info to store in my knowledge toolbox for reference when I actually doing it... I will probably shutdown the main switch to avoid injury even I am only working on one breaker...

thanks again...

jwhite 06-14-2006 04:45 PM


Originally Posted by IvoryRing
You can have as many dryer outlets as you want. If you only have one dryer plugged in

You may think this is safe, but it is definately not to code.

jwhite 06-14-2006 04:48 PM

Why cant you just run the new circuits but leave them off the breakers for now. On the day you move the washer/dryer change the wireing in the panel. then cap off the old circuits at the panel and the old rec location.

KUIPORNG 06-15-2006 08:20 AM

can probably do that for the dryer but
can probably do that for the 240v dryer as you recommended, but for the 120v washer, I am not sure if there are other devices hooking into it such as receptacles or lights...etc. I suspect there will be, as it is quite uncommon have a breaker for only one device... even the 240v dryer, don't know if it has other stuff hook into it although I am not sure what else running 240v could possible share the circuit with it..

Is dryer and washer should always be the only device in its circuit? generally speaking, I know I need to try to find out myself by going around the house and switch on/off everywhere, but just want to know the general rule first...

jwhite 06-15-2006 08:16 PM

Not generaly speaking, but by code. the washer should be on its own 120v circuit 20 amp. and the dryere, if electric, should be on its own circuit. Most are 30 amp 240 volt.

KUIPORNG 06-16-2006 09:09 AM

Thanks jwhite, after this info, I will choose your suggestion ...

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