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An odd issue arose with my dryer outlet, and I am more concerned than initially. Below are the chain of events:

  1. Dryer:
  • Samsung dryer spun, but did not heat
    • Replaced heating element
    • Plugged in, did not power on
    • Troubleshooting dryer, thought it was the circuit panel
  • Purchased new dryer
    • Plugged in, did not power on
  1. Electric:
  • Outlet:
    • Left Hot (Black) to Right Hot (Red) = 240
  • Outlet one week later:
    • Left Hot (Black) to Right Hot (Red) = 94
    • Neutral to RH (Red) = 120
    • Neutral to LH (Black) = 27
    • Ground to LH (Black) = 27
    • Ground to RH (Red) =120
    • ** could not read 240v again..
  • Behind Outlet:
    • Ground to LH (Black) = 27
    • Ground to RH (Red) = 120
  • Breaker panel:
    • Main Power Off
      • Removed Breaker door
      • Tightened all breaker screws (not neutral's)
    • Main Power On
      • Tested:
        • Ground to Top Breaker (Black) = 120
        • Ground to Bottom Breaker (Red) = 120
        • Both = 240
  • Outlet Tested:
    • LH (Black) to RH (Red) = 240
    • Neutral to RH (Red) = 120
    • Neutral to LH (Black) = 120
    • Ground to LH (Black) = 120
    • Ground to RH (Red) =120
  • Plugged Dryer In, did not power on..
  • Later:
    • LH (Black) to RH (Red) = 240
    • Neutral to RH (Red) = 120
    • Neutral to LH (Black) = 120
    • Ground to LH (Black) = 120
    • Ground to RH (Red) =120
    • Ground to Neutral = 0
    • Dryer Breaker Off
    • Continuity Ground to Neutral = Correct
  • Plugged Samsung in, it worked
    • Unplugged Samsung
  • Plugged Maytag in, it worked

From reading, it may a faulty breaker. Any ideas? Cannot get an electrician for another couple weeks 4 Prong Outlet

Panel Box

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  • When plugging into the receptacle, is it stiff or easy? It should be stiff and need to have a good push.
    – crip659
    Nov 13, 2023 at 14:53
  • Stiff, as in one hand on wall to remove cord from outlet, outlet itself is around 2 years old.
    – TomAder
    Nov 13, 2023 at 14:54
  • 1
    Did you use a torque driver when tightening screws? Why didn't you do the neutral while you were at it?
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 13, 2023 at 14:58

2 Answers 2

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As I read your description, and this may just be an omission, I don't see you checking the torque on the receptacle wire connecting screws; I also don't see mention of using a torque driver on the breaker screws.

Since the problem stinks of being a bad connection, you should go over every connection (both hots, neutral, and ground - at both ends, and any junctions in the middle) looking for problems and leaving them tightened to the proper torque specification.

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  • I just checked the receptacle wire connecting screws. The LH (black wire) was tight, but the screw was not seated directly on the wire, as the right was. I just fixed that. As for the neutral bar, can I shut the main breaker off, and then torque all neutral screws? FWIW when I torqued the breaker screws, all where already correct. When I am in there, I may as well remove the breaker and inspect the back.
    – TomAder
    Nov 13, 2023 at 15:57
  • Curious though, would a loose wire at the receptacle affect the reading of the wire itself (behind the outlet). Because initial testing showed that loose wire reading 27V.
    – TomAder
    Nov 13, 2023 at 16:02
  • 1
    That may have been a bad connection elsewhere. But it's very consistent with "everything read fine, neither dryer worked" as tested later, followed by "Both dryers mysteriously started working after that." With poor connections, there's no good reason to expect only one, as presumably every connection here was made by someone who did not to a careful and correct job on at least one or two. Can you post a picture of the receptacle terminals? Most have a shoe or clamp that should be between the screw and the wire, rather than the screw bearing directly on the wire.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 13, 2023 at 16:06
  • Good point, let me check the torque on the neutral screws in panel box.
    – TomAder
    Nov 13, 2023 at 16:08
  • Quick recap and want to state items I checked based on your suggestions. Days of inconsistent readings, I powered off main breaker, torqued all breaker screws (but they were already fine). I powered on main breaker, tested the 240v breaker wires, all correct. Tested receptacle, all correct. At this point, I plugged in dryer, no dice. However, after 240V breakers off/on/off/on while checking continuity and moving dryers around, I checked once more, and both dryers powered on and heat worked. But I am apprehensive that I am missing something more important.
    – TomAder
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:18
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Pull and replace the breaker, they're cheap. Use the proper breaker for your panel, the types are not interchangeable, e.g. a BR, THQL or QP does not belong in a HOM panel.

I'm not at all happy with the strategy of taking a suspect (or proven faulty) connection and simply torquing the screw more and hanging the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the aircraft carrier. If the contact is poor, there's likely to be some arcing, oxidation and soot in there. The wire should be removed, inspected, cleaned up if necessary and put back in, or you're just torquing down oxide, and you'll have spotty results.

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