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I have a dryer that recently stopped working. After speaking with more than one appliance repair person, and trying more than one dryer, I'm sure the dryer is fine and some electrical fault is to blame.

The receptacle has voltage. A multi-meter reads 110 from each hot to neutral and 220 across both hot wires. I suspect an open neutral but my landlord is adamant that my dryer must be broken because there is power to the receptacle.

I would like to somehow show him a fault so he will stop blaming my dryer (and the second dryer I tried that also didn't work). I see that for normal outlets I can buy an inexpensive tester that plugs in and shows off a variety of faults using three colored lights. I can't find one anywhere that is designed to test the dryer plug. I believe it's a 1030 R. I've included a picture below in case I'm wrong.

Where can I get a circuit tester for this type of outlet? If that isn't really an option how can I use a multi-meter to test for the same things?

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  • Depending on how much time/money/effort you want to spend on this and how confident you are in your ability to not set things on fire, you could build a temporary adapter to convert that 10-30 into a pair of 'normal' 5-15 sockets. You should then be able to temporarily run a normal appliance (like a toaster or kettle) on each one individually. I wouldn't try running 2 simultaneously since a missing neutral/ground on the 10-30 and unbalanced loads could lead to trouble... – brhans Sep 28 '16 at 15:41
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The dryer itself is the only load that is needed. Open the panel where the cord connects to the dryer and try to turn it on and measure the voltages from both legs to the ground/neutral and across the hot leads if the voltage drops out you will be able to pinpoint the loss with any meter. You may need to have someone push the start button while taking the measurements.

  • I was able to get someone help me do this and I saw exactly what you described. As soon as the power button on the dryer was pushed it dropped from 220v to 0. With this new information and some advise from a friendly appliance repair company I was able to convince the landlord there was something up. There was a problem in the breaker box. I believe it was an issue with a bonding screw not being installed (or being installed when it shouldn't have been, he wasn't very specific). He also wasn't sure why it worked for a while before it stopped. Thansk for the help. – David Oct 3 '16 at 13:13
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A big problem is those testers are high impedance, meaning they draw very little current. So they will happily show you the correct line voltage even if the line has a bad connection between the receptacle and panel box. When the large load of the dryer is put onto the bad circuit, the voltage drops and the appliance stops working properly or working entirely. It could be the neutral or one of the hot legs or a combination. The only way to tell is to open the outlet and inspect it for bad connections. But only do so with that circuit de-energized (turn the breaker off or pull the fuses). And yes, it is a NEMA 10-30R for 125/250 volt (or 110/220 in your case) service, no ground.

  • ....or use a low impedance tester: m.homedepot.com/p/Klein-Tools-Voltage-Tester-ET50/202498056 – Tyson Sep 28 '16 at 16:21
  • @Tyson those are good for eliminating ghost voltages from capacitive coupling but I would not trust them to find a loose connection as their impedance is still around the 3k ohm region. That would only draw about 80mA on a 240V circuit, or roughly 20 watts. I have seen 100 watt bulbs on a bad 120V circuit light up without any noticeable voltage drop. but once the vacuum cleaner is plugged in and turned on, a whole 'nother story emerges. – Mister Tea Sep 28 '16 at 16:49

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