How to Test a 240 Volt Dryer Circuit

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Clothes Dryer is Not Working Right: Testing a 240 Volt Dryer Outlet, Tester Leads and Readings, What to do about Incorrect Dryer Voltage, How to Fix Dryer Problems.

Guide to Testing a Dryer Receptacle for 240 Volts

Electrical Question: My dryer just stopped working.

Dryer Voltage Problem

  • I was given an Ideal voltage tester 61-065 to test the receptacles.
  • I don’t have a manual and want to make sure I use it correctly.

Can you help me.
This electrical repair question came from: Kim, a Homeowner from Spring, Texas.

Dryer is Not Heating

  • My 240 volt dryer outlet shows 240volts, but my dryer will not turn on.
  • Sometimes there is only 120volts at the outlet.

Can you give me an idea what that might mean? Thank You.
This electrical wiring question came from Wayne , in North Port , Florida.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Kim and Wayne.

How to Test a 240 Volt Dryer Circuit.

Application: Troubleshooting – Testing 240 Volt Dryer Circuit.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a qualified electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and 120-240 Volt Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with hand tools and electrical troubleshooting skills.
Precaution: Identify the dryer circuit, turn it OFF and then Tag it with a Note before making inspections or wiring modifications.
Note: Electrical troubleshooting is best performed by a qualified electrical contractor.
IMPORTANT: Working on electrical circuits and in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock and is not advised for homeowners or inexperienced or unqualified individuals.

Testing a 240 Volt Dryer Outlet when the Dryer Does Not Work

  • Testing the Dryer Outlet
    The dryer receptacle should be tested to see if it has 120/240 volts.
  • Voltage Tester
    The Ideal 61-065 Voltage Tester or any 120-240Volt Induction Tester  has two wire leads and no voltage settings so it is very straight forward because you will see the voltage readings in the window of the voltage tester.
  • Tester Leads and Readings
    The leads are placed into the receptacle at two points. You have either a 3 wire or 4 wire circuit. You should receive two different readings, 120 volts and 240 volts.
  • Testing for 240 Volts
    The 240 volt reading should be between the two angled outlet openings.
  • Incorrect Dryer Voltage
    If you do not have the 240 volt reading then the circuit breaker should be checked.
  • Resetting the Circuit Breaker
    Turn the circuit breaker all the way into the OFF position, then back into the ON position.
  • Retest the Dryer Outlet
    Retest the dryer receptacle for 120 and 240 volts.
  • Problem with the Dryer Circuit
    If the voltage readings are not correct then the circuit will have to be inspected to the cause of the fault. The cause may be a bad circuit breaker, wire connections to the circuit breaker, or faulty wiring connections at the dryer outlet.

More about an Electric Dryer Circuit and Outlet

Wiring a dryer

  • Wiring a Dryer
  • 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.

How to use electrical testers

  • Electrical Safety and Voltage Testers
  • When working on home electrical wiring, quality 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.

Learn How to Wire it Right with my
Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring
Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electrical Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
Electrical Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

» Click here to learn more about Home Electrical Wiring «
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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

8 Responses to “How to Test a 240 Volt Dryer Circuit”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Rose,
    The receptacle outlet for the dryer should be checked for proper voltage, and the dryer exhaust vent pipe and duct cover should be inspected to make sure it is not clogged or obstructed.
    I hope this helps,

  2. Rose Guzman says:

    We just bought a new dryer because the old one was not heating up. We plugged the new dryer in and it runs, but does not heat up. Is it the outlet?

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Michelle,
    From what you have described, the 240 volt dryer circuit and the dryer outlet wiring should be checked and tested to make sure the dryer is getting the right electrical power. The problem may not be with the dryer, but with the with the wiring of the circuit. Now that you have a new dryer, make sure that the existing electrical circuit matches the description of the required circuit as found in the installation manual that you received with the new dryer. Most new electric dryers require a 4-wire 240 volt 30 amp circuit. More information and wiring diagrams are provided in the resources of this main article.
    I hope this helps,

  4. Michelle says:

    We have had many problems with all of our dryers. The last two we had, although they were old, would run but just stopped heating. We now have a new dryer and it will not even start. We are not sure what to do.
    Please help?!

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Robert,
    According to the The National Voltage Regulations Standards, The Nominal Standard for a 240 Volt Service allows Plus or Minus 5% which is a range of 228 – 252 volts. According to this standard your voltage is low, therefore you may want to contact your local utility power company and describe your voltage readings. With a voltage condition such as this, the dryer will work, however the electric motor of the dryer may run warmer than normal.

  6. robert keegan says:

    Is it OK that my tester only reads 211 volt on a 30 amp breaker? One power leg is 118 volt, and the other power leg is 122 volt, and both power legs read 211 volt. Will my dryer work? I have not plugged it in yet.

  7. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Sheri,
    The first thing I would do is reset the circuit breaker, which is typically a 2-pole 30 amp for a 240 volt electric dryer. If that does not produce heat then make sure the lint trap is clean and the exhaust vent is not clogged. If the dryer does not have air flow due to a problem with the ventilation then sensors will not allow the heat to come on or stay on thereby protecting the unit from having a fire. Those are always the first to check. Other possibilities are heating elements that need replacing or the control timer or another control switch or sensor that needs replacing.

  8. sheri says:

    My dryer does not heat anymore. It runs fine, but without heat. What should I do to repair it?


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