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My electric clothes dryer recently stopped providing any heat. Today a service-technician arrived and diagnosed two problems: that the heating-coil was broken (3 months after warranty) and that the electrical supply was only 110V instead of 240V and said I should replace the breaker. He didn't speak English very well and I didn't press him for details, but he did say that both issues would need to be corrected in order for the dryer to work again. He replaced the heating element in the dryer but did not say what was wrong with it, this leaves me with just the breaker:

My dryer is connected using a NEMA 14-30 connection and my breaker-box has a two-pole 30-amp circuit breaker, currently the reset switch is in the On position and indeed, my dryer produces no heat - only moving cold air around.

My understanding of electrical systems is limited, but I understand the dryer's 240V (is it 230, 240 or 250?) has two 120V AC supplies that are 180deg phase-separated, giving a total potential of 240V.

The technician did not go into detail about the electrical problems, I don't know if he meant that both phase supplies were both giving only 65V (unlikely, but possible?), or if one phase was not delivering any power at all, and if so, which connector wasn't delivering power.

Surely the circuit-breaker would indicate if there was a fault and perhaps enter some kind of failure-state or at least trip.

I'm about to head out to my hardware store to buy a replacement breaker and see if replacing it fixes it, but this doesn't seem right.

I'd hate to call out an electrician for this - I got a $350 quotation just to replace the breaker, hence why I'm doing it by myself.

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The voltage measurement needs to be from 1 hot leg to the other hot leg the voltage should be ~240 (the flat connections). To identify the bad leg measure hot to ground or neutral each hot should have 120v. Since your coil failed I would suspect the wiring at the receptacle or breaker. With the power off pull the receptacle and look at the connections. My guess there was a not so good connection when the coil failed it may have ended up burning the wire off. I see this regularly in receptacles not very often in the breaker box. It could be the breaker but that is rare.

  • Can you explain how a poor connection in the electrical socket/plug would damage the heating coil/element? If it was a bad connection then less power would reach the dryer, so it would just run cooler, not hotter? – Dai Oct 18 '16 at 23:41
  • A bad connection would not damage the coil but a bad connection will open when a bad heating coil opens and shorts. A bad connection can cause motor brown out increasing the current draw but would protect a heating element because if the voltage is low on a heating element because of a bad connection there would be less current. My suggestion is the element failed , the tech replaced it an easy check but this caused a weak connection or nicked to fail. – Ed Beal Oct 19 '16 at 0:15
  • I took my multimeter to the circuit-breaker in the breaker-box and it reported 240V between both poles, so if the problem is electrical (and not something wrong in the dryer itself) then it would be at the receptacle end. Problem is the dryer is too heavy to move (even by 2 people). I'll inform the dryer service company that they'll need to come by again, with 3 people. – Dai Oct 19 '16 at 0:47
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    @Dai Even though you tested 240V at the breaker the electrical wiring behind the outlet could be loose. In which case the appliance tech would still not fix leaving it up to an electrician or yourself. – Kris Oct 19 '16 at 8:48

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