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Question – Troubleshooting a Dryer Plug


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

What causes a 240 volt outlet to give only 120 volts?

I have a 220 line for my dryer. Sometimes it fails. When it failed I tested the outlet. I got 125 from the left leg and 25 from the right. I reset all the breakers and reread and it read correctly at 125 each leg. I don’t know how to check the breaker to tell you its reading, but do you have any idea what would cause this intermittent problem?

From what you are explaining, you are experiencing a problem with the circuit breaker where one of the two connections to the panel buss has become corroded and is arcing. This will cause an intermittent connection until it finally arcs so bad that this connection becomes totally lost. I would strongly advise you to get a qualified electrician to correct this situation right away as it could lead to much more severe problems in the panel. The severity of the problem depends upon the brand of the panel and the style of breaker. Zinsco Panels are popular for this problem as well as other brands especially when a twin breaker is used. Twin breakers are thinner and have less contact surface with the buss which can contribute to over-heating and create arcing while the circuit is being used. Many times a new full size breaker can be installed in a different position in the panel where the buss has not been damaged and your circuit will be restored.



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