I bought a used washer and dryer about a month ago from a warehouse dealer that specializes in used appliances. The dryer worked for about a month then refused to operate. I called the appliance guy who checked the dryer, said it was fine. He was able to hook up another dryer which he was transporting which also failed to turn on. He left the new dryer and took the old one to his shop where it turned on fine. He blamed the outlet or some part of the electrical and insisted the dryers are working fine. he has offered to let me take any same price dryer from his shop and try it.

I told the landlord something may be wrong with the electric. He came and checked the breaker, tested the voltage, couldn't find anything wrong. Multi-meter showed 120 from each side to neutral and 240v across both. Breaker is fine, but he replaced it to make sure. Dryer still doesn't work.

I called the appliance guy back who took the dryer apart to look for a fault. Nothing. Tried a third dryer, no luck. So I call the landlord back who replaces the three prong dryer outlet which results in no change and insists his wiring is correct.

So we have tried three dryers that work at the warehouse that don't work at home. The outlet provides 240v but the dryers refuse to operate. Supposing the appliance guy isn't outright lying and these dryers work fine when plugged in at the warehouse, what might the landlord be missing in the electric lines? He is a very handy person but admittedly not an electrician.

If I need to get in person help would it be better at this point to contact an electrician to look at the lines or an appliance guy to check the dryer?

  • Strange that the voltages sound correct. I have found dryers that were wired wrong 120 on both sides but they were on the same leg no 240. This would be the only thing I could think of that could cause the problem. I am surprised the appliance guy did not verify the voltage at the outlet.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 26, 2016 at 16:28
  • Has anyone measured the voltages while the dryer is plugged in?
    – brhans
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:50
  • @brhans Yes. The appliance guy took the back panels off the dryer and measured everything while the dryer was plugged in.
    – David
    Aug 26, 2016 at 18:43
  • @EdBeal The appliance guy used a multi meter to verify the voltage in the outlet and in various parts of the dryer while the dryer was plugged in.
    – David
    Aug 26, 2016 at 18:44
  • 1
    You need to measure the voltages with a load on the circuit. A light bulb from each side to neutral would do the job. Dryer plugged in but turned off wouldn't do the job.
    – brhans
    Aug 26, 2016 at 19:41

3 Answers 3


I recently had a problem that stumped me. My dryer had worked for a couple of years and then stopped heating. Turns out, the 240 receptacle had a bad contact on one of the 120 legs so it made poor contact with the plug. I replaced the receptacle. Later, I autopsied the old receptacle, cutting it open by drilling out the central rivet, and found that one of the spring clips had actually broken, so it didn't maintain tension. Of course when I had probed the receptacle I had been able to get the 120 because I was hunting for it. Perhaps your receptacle is bad?

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here. Feb 29, 2020 at 19:11
  • The OP states that the landlord replaced the receptacle and it made no difference.
    – JACK
    Mar 1, 2020 at 1:14

Sorry no comment ability but are you sure neutral is actually neutral not a ground wire?

I owned a home built in the 50s that had no mains breaker and only four breakers (had to rewire the whole house). The dryer was wired from old 120 wiring taking black wire to breaker 1 and then moved the white wire to breaker 2, and took the ground wire being left on the ground bus moved it to the 220 neutral. No actual neutral was added. Read 240 and 120 on meter. One reason split neutral and ground bus is not good.

  • This is an old house. Something like this may have happened but the wires look right. Red, Black and White. No bare copper that I would normally associate with ground.
    – David
    Aug 26, 2016 at 18:49
  • I hope it is not the old panel and wiring like I faced but it was the only thing that made sense in my place and proved to be. But had a costly fix as four breakers running a whole home and improper grounds/neutrals left a complete rewire as the only safe repair. Aug 26, 2016 at 19:31
  • I think the reason an old house question was raised is 4wire has been code since 99 maybe longer but this was the oldest book I had available what year was the house built?
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 26, 2016 at 22:55

You have a bad ground. I It is possible to test the outlet not under load and you will get 240 across x and y and 120 from each leg to ground like it is supposed to be but when put under load it will not work. It will also show 240 on one leg when hooked to the dryer. I have seen this a couple of times in recent years. Check your ground rod connection first then your individual circuit from panel to plug . If everything checks replace the plug . If it still does not work run a separate ground wire straight from the panel to the outlet (temporarily) to test. that will fix the problem.

  • 1
    Do you mean a bad neutral, not a bad ground? Jul 17, 2018 at 22:27

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