I recently had an electric dryer fail and I have been unable to determine the reason. All of the obvious items within it to check for (as mentioned in many youtube videos on such appliance repairs) all were in proper working order.

When I first checked the line-to-line voltage at the socket where the dryer cord plugged into, I measured around 208Vac. That seemed a bit low and the dryer is spec'ed for 220/240Vac. After trying to make several attempts at repairing the dryer, including carefully taking some measurements at various points with it plugged in, I checked the voltage at the socket again... To my surprise, I was only reading about 160Vac line-to-line.

Clearly that is way low.

I also did not see any evidence of short circuits or melted/scorched connections and wiring inside the dryer. Also, the circuit breaker for the dryer circuit was not tripped at all at any time from first noticing the dryer no-start situation to during the troubleshooting.

Before I contact a local electrician, I figured I'd ask here. What would cause a circuit that is supposed to be 220/240V line-to-line to only be about 160V line to line??

  • 1
    What voltage are you getting at the main breaker/lugs? Is this the only 208v receptacle that is doing this?
    – WarLoki
    Sep 1, 2015 at 0:45
  • 2
    208/120 is normal voltage for many residencies and is plenty of power to run a dryer. Perhaps the 160v was a misread.
    – Kris
    Sep 1, 2015 at 2:12
  • Warloki, I will check the voltage at the main breaker lugs today after work. Yes, it is the only 220V socket doing this. Part of my troubleshooting the dryer was to plug it into the Stove circuit. Sep 1, 2015 at 9:26
  • @Kris it might be a misread, especially considering I measured the correct voltage not long after i first unplugged the dryer. I will strip some wire and attach it to my DMM leads to make sure I get all the way inside the socket and check today after work. I hope that this is all it is! Sep 1, 2015 at 9:27
  • 1
    @PhilosophStein if 240v is being read elsewhere, then it's not quite realistic for a home to have 208v at the same time. Maybe if you lived in a machine shop. Possible causes are loose terminal screws at either the breaker, and/or the receptacle. Or possibly a bad conductor in the wire.
    – Kris
    Sep 1, 2015 at 11:56


Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.