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-   -   Did I Blow My Breaker? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/did-i-blow-my-breaker-211244/)

Maltose 12-12-2010 01:35 AM

Did I Blow My Breaker?
I was installing a new 4-prong outlet today in my basement to replace the current 3-prong. Wiring was pretty straight forward; red and black wires to the hot legs (brass screws), white wire to silver screw, ground to green screw. I also replaced the cord to my dryer. Again, I simply replaced the red, white and black wires with the same on the dryer, except for the ground, I removed the ground bar, and screwed the new ground wire from the plug directly to the dryer's frame.

I buttoned everything up, plugged the dryer in, then hit the breaker. There was a small pop and a small spark in my double 30A breaker and it threw back. I went to the new outlet and there was a little smoke coming out. I opened it and the wires were covered with dust, I'm assuming from smoke.

Now, when I turn the breaker on, my dryer only has the light coming on when the door is open. When I go to start the dryer, I get nothing. I'm thinking the circuit breaker blew, at least one side, so I'm only getting 120v to the dryer??

I apologize that this is basically about fixing my dryer right now, but this will be my outlet for my electric brewery.

trigger 12-12-2010 01:49 AM

Do you have a multimeter? You should unplug the dryer, then test the voltage across the two hot leg, then each hot to neutral. That will give you a better place to start. It does sound like you're only getting 120V to the dryer, but that's a WAG. It's very unlikely that you killed the breaker. I think it's a lot more likely that there was a short to ground from one of your connections.

Maltose 12-12-2010 02:09 AM

No multimeter, I figured that was the best starting option, but I don't have one lying around. If there was a short to the ground, how would it kick only one leg off from the dryer?

trigger 12-12-2010 02:27 AM

Well, first off you really need to get a multimeter, they're probably right up there with a screwdriver in terms of utility when working with electricity.

Please keep in mind I'm just speculating here, but If you had a loose or poor connection it could have effectively reduced the wire diameter, allowing that one small part of the circuit to overheat (this could have been what caused the smoke. If the wire or connection burned or came apart the exposed end could have contacted a bit of the dryer frame, or the box, or anything else that was grounded, allowing an extremely low resistance path to ground, which could have easily drawn enough current to trip the breaker, even if the short was only maintained for a very small amount of time. Once everything had settled down, the exposed wire is no longer in contact with ground, so it's effectively an open circuit, while the other hot leg is closed with respect to the neutral, allowing the 120V portion of the appliance to still function.

Like I said, this is pure speculation. If I were you I would leave the breaker off until you get a multimeter and check continuity. Do a resistance test with the power off from the appropriate receptacle socket to it's buss bar in the panel for both ground and neutral, then do the two hot legs from the receptacle socket to the wire connection at the breaker. These should all read less than 1 ohm, and if any of them are high values, then you've found which leg has the bad connection. If they all check out fine, then do the prongs on your dryer plug to their connection terminals on the dryer, again they should all read less than 1 ohm. Finally, if everything there checks out, pull the breaker from the panel, flip it to the on position, and measure continuity across each of it's poles.

I'm pretty sure what you'll find is that you're lacking continuity on one of the hot legs of the run from the panel to the receptacle. The smoke coming from the receptacle leads me to believe that something in there burned up, so that's where I'd start. The breaker sounds fine, so that's the last thing I'd suspect.

Maltose 12-12-2010 02:34 AM

Thanks Trigger, looks like I've got a trip to Ace in the morning. I'll post pictures if there are any other problems. I just hope I didn't f*ck up my dryer.

trigger 12-12-2010 03:58 AM

well, since the smoke was in the receptacle box, I don't think you did. Usually any smoke in an electric circuit is a really good indication of where the problem's at. It's often from burning the insulation off a wire.

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