How to Troubleshoot Partial Power to a 220 Volt Dryer
Electrical Troubleshooting Question:
Dryer has partial power and certain other wall plugs are out after a lightning storm.
The dryer tries to come on but doesn't have enough power to start.
We looked in the circuit box and nothing is tripped.
Is this repairable by us or do we need an electrician?
Thanks- Dorinda P.
Hi Dorinda - Great Electrical Repair Question!
I will begin by stating that I advise homeowners not to perform work In their main Electrical Service Panel, especially when it come to trouble shooting the loss of the Main Service or part of it.
The extent of which you can safely perform checks would be Visually Inspecting the Breakers to see if they are Tripped.
In some cases a breaker may appear to be in the ON position when in fact it is tripped off internally.
If this is the case, then by turning the breaker OFF all the way, then back ON should remedy this situation, otherwise there may be another problem, and it still may be with the breaker or the attachment of the breaker to the Panel Buss.
After making these Visual Checks, if you do not have Normal 240 volt Power, then I would consult a Professional Electrician.
The typical home has a 240 volt service, which is a result of two 120 volt lines entering the Main Panel from your Local Electric Utility Company. It appears that you have indeed lost one of the 120 volt lines.
Electrical troubleshooting test must be performed to discover where the problem is which identified by going through a process of elimination and inspection, starting with the Main Service Feeds entering the Breaker area of the service - NOT inside the Electric Utility Company area of the panel (this area is off limits to anyone while the electrical service is energized from the utility company.
The process usually starts by checking at the Main Breaker or any 240 volt breaker - Using a tester that can test for 240 volts, checking Line One across to Line Two - this area should have 240 volts on the secondary side of these breakers.
If the reading does not show 240 volts then the problem is on the Electric Utility Company side of your service and you will need to call the Utility Company and explain the situation to them.
From: Dorinda P.
Okay. The power came to the house and said that there was a problem in the house. The electrician found a reset button for the 110 plugs.
He checked the dryer plug and said it was fine. He said it must be the dryer. The appliance man came to the house and said the dryer needed a motor. I gave my daughter a dryer that I know works.
After changing the ponytail to fit in her outlet, the dryer did the same thing. She put the ponytail off her old dryer on the one I gave her.
Can a dryer cord go bad?
She is very frustrated right now.
From: Dorinda P.
We called the electrician back to the house thinking it was the dryer receptacle. As it turned out it was a circuit in the breaker box that was bad. The electrician replaced it and we had power. A little white later the circuit went out again and now there is an electrical smell in the house. The electricians are searching for the cause. I hope there is not a fire brewing.
It would be rare that the dryer cord would go bad. I would be certain that the cord has been installed correctly and that none of the wires have been reversed, as this could cause a potentially dangerous situation. Until this is checked, do not plug the dryer into the receptacle. Does the dryer cord have 3 wires or 4 wires?
The wiring configurations for each is different.
Because of the difficulty that you are having and the lack of experience with these electrical systems I would encourage you to have a local qualified electrician help you with these situations to ensure that the necessary checks are performed and that the dryer is wired correctly.
From: Dorinda P.
Thanks so much for your advice. You have been very helpful and I remained calm but frustrated. The problem has been solved. The dryer is working. The smell is gone.
Seems the ground and neutral wire were backwards. Something about three wires but changed now to four. Just glad to find out what the problem was and get it fixed. Lightning is a strange thing. I was really worried about a fire. Hopefully, you won't have to hear from me again.
I'm glad to hear that the electrician identified a problem in the breaker box. Because some of the circuits in your home were only receiving partial power because of the problem in the breaker box, it is very possible that something was damaged while receiving partial power when your dryer was not working correctly.
The device that has been damaged can be discovered through a process of elimination. If you have any fluorescent lighting fixtures or adapters check to see if they are functioning properly.
Next I would check all electronic devices and see if they are working properly.
Good Luck and Be Careful.