My dryer stopped working and I found out that the circuit breaker (fuse) had burnt out. I measured the voltage in the socket and it's none. I live in an older house in USA and the cable is inside the pipe going around the house outside to the outside electric box that contains only two circuit breakers connected in series. Which means both are meant for the dryer plug only.

I measured the voltage before and it's 220V but coming out of the breaker is 0V which means it's bad.

The problem here is that this breaker is connected directly from the meter so I have no way to turn off the electricity and replace it. Any idea why it is done like this? The circuit breaker (fuse) for the oven is inside of inside electrical box and it has a way to turn it off if replacement needed.

I'm not sure on how I can replace the one for the dryer. It looks like I will need to call the electrician to disconnect the wiring by the pole.

Update: so I tried to replace the circuit breaker but I found out that this outside box actually holds the main 100Amp circuit breaker and 220V breaker for dryer + AC. With luck I removed the broken breaker which was next to the main one. I turned off the main breaker so 220v breaker wasn't powered. So I had to be careful because the main breaker had hot wires coming in. Anyway, I took the bad breaker to Lowes to find replacement. I couldn't find any. When the Lowes worker saw the breaker He put his hands on his head and said. It is FPE breaker and they don't manufacture them anymore. They are highly dangerous and I need to replace the whole box. So I did some research and surely FPE failed many tests and was responsible for many house fires. Luckily the inside box is GE only this outside box with the main breaker is FPE. I will need to call the electricians to replace the whole box.

I can't believe there wasn't recall for these breaker boxes. Now I'm forced to spend money for somebody's else fault, otherwise I would just replace the breaker...

  • Sounds like you already have an answer for your question. Call your power supplier.
    – Michael Karas
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:18
  • so they made it this way to force me spend money on their service.
    – Grasper
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:22
  • 1
    It might be useful to get some electricians to quote for upgrading to a modern electrical panel with a main breaker (random example) Jun 27, 2014 at 14:33
  • I have the modern panel inside the house for the rest of house wiring. Only the dryer wiring is outside in it's own box...
    – Grasper
    Jun 27, 2014 at 14:36
  • 1
    @Grasper - no, they did it that way because the house was built in a different time and place when just getting stuff hooked up (rural electrification) meant doing whatever was necessary. You will find old fuse panels with adjunct panels hooked into the main drop so that the meter has to be pulled to power everything down. In this day and age, after lots of water under the bridge, electrocutions and fires, NEC code demands a much different playing field with a main breaker after the meter to kill the whole internal distribution. Jun 28, 2014 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


I find it a little puzzling that you have a modern panel inside your home and a separate fuse box dedicated to the dryer.

Confirm that this is the case - double check your modern panel to see if you've overlooked a 220v circuit that has tripped.

If it is a simple tripped circuit, reset it. If it happens again call an electrician to find out why.


  • Call an electrician and confirm what you suspect.

  • Get a quote to run a new line to the dryer and hooked into the modern panel.

  • Call the power company and inform them of what is going on. It is possible that this has been overlooked and may be eligible to have it fixed for free since it is of no fault of your own. In my area the power company is responsible for deficiencies such as the one you are describing.
  • this is good direction, thanks. I updated my question...
    – Grasper
    Jun 30, 2014 at 11:55

Sometimes the breaker boxes will have a large Main Disconnect switch separated from the others. If so, it should disconnect all power, including to your secondary breaker box.

Even if you have a main disconnect, you can never be sure how it was wired. So, if you do have one, use your meter to make sure that the feeds to the secondary breaker box are, in fact, unenergized, before you start working on it!

Good luck :)


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