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I suspect an electrical problem related to our dyer plug or outlet but am having trouble figuring it out. We

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Old 08-01-2013, 11:43 AM
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Default Possible dryer electrical problem
Model Number: N/a   Brand: Whirlpool   Age: More than 10 years   

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I suspect an electrical problem related to our dyer plug or outlet but am having trouble figuring it out. We had a 14-year-old dryer that started taking longer and longer to dry the clothes. We cleaned all lint from inside machine and vent and vent cover and it made no difference. So, we assumed the heating element was going out. Since the dryer also needed a new drum glide and was squeaking at times we decided to replace it with a 4-5 year old dryer. The newer dryer had a 4-prong plug and our outlet is 3-prong so I took the plug off the old dryer and attached to the new one (the plug is only about 5 years old). Got it all hooked up and the newer dryer has the same problem as the old one: takes three cycles to dry a load, has some heat but not enough. So now I suspect an electrical problem. I used a multimeter set to measure Ohms to check resistance in the dryer cord and it tested fine. Then I tried to get a reading from the outlet and couldn't get anything to register at all-- which makes no sense because clearly there is power in the outlet since the dryer runs. It's like the probes are not able to make contact with the metal inside the outlet. I tested a normal outlet in our home and the multimeter read 120 just as it should. So then I tested the power at the place where the plug attaches to the dryer and it shows 240 with a 120 reading on each side just as it should! So I am at a loss. Is it possible despite these readings that the cord or outlet or circuit are bad? What else can I try? If I call a pro should I call a dryer repairman or an electrician? I did try flipping the circuit off and on again but it made no difference.


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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 08-01-2013, 05:24 PM
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Did you check and ohm out all the thermostats/thermistors and in line fuses and cut off thermostats in the drying circuit? an electric dryer has 2 lines of electricity one for rotation and the other for heat and they are separate ciruicts. If those check out i'd make sure your ventilation under your house and inside the unit are completely clean because it's very rare that the same problem happens on a new unit to me that's saying it's something to do with your house and ventilation.....Try unhooking the hose off the back and running the machine and see if it works properly......If it does then your venilation is clogged somewhere. Next step if it still doesn't work clean the plug terminals inside the receptacle in the wall by removing the cover and using a wire brush or sandpaper........clean the plug itself...........test the unit after that...........should have 240 across phases..........120 from L1 to nuetral and 120v from L2 to nuetral.......You may have a bad breaker also just because your getting voltage people think it's perfectly fine but i'm a journeyman electrician before i became a appliance tech and i've seen breakers give good voltage sometimes but are bad inside and foul out intermitently when tested under load and even though it's clicked over in the on position doesn't mean it's on...........Check all the above and get back with your findings.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:29 PM
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Thanks for your response. The problem is not the vent. It vents directly out the wall behind the dryer and that was the first thing we checked. It is clear and the airflow is strong outside.

I understand the dryer runs off two circuits, and I suspect it is not getting all 240v it needs, which explains why both dryers malfunction the same way when plugged into our outlet. But my electrical knowledge is limited, and the fact that it read 240 at the top of the cord confused me.

I discovered that the probes on my multimeter are too short to reach the contacts inside the dryer outlet, which is why I can't get a reading there. After further research, I tried to pull the outlet from the wall to test it using the screws on the back. I turned off the circuit, removed the cover and the screws in the plate underneath the cover but the outlet would not pull out of the wall!

I have also tried to remove the cover from my circuit breaker box so I can test the circuit breaker but it requires a square screwdriver bit which I have never seen before.

I think I need the help of a pro, because I don't have any idea how to test the other things you mentioned. Are those in the dryer or the electrical line? I don't see how the problem can be in the dryer since (as already explained) we have two dryers both malfunctioning in the same way when plugged into our outlet. Based on what you say about how a breaker can be bad even when things test ok, it sounds like the pro I need is an electrician rather than a dryer repairman. Would you agree?
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:28 PM
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Yeah with good venting and it happening with both units i'm suspecting the electrical is bad bring in a professional to check it. One other aspect also is did you make sure when you switch the old power cord onto the new unit did you connect that right also? Generally power line 1 and 2 are the outside ones which are red and black and the white is generally in the center..........good luck and write back after an electrician checks it out.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:13 PM
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So, the problem is still not entirely solved. I am focused in on the newer dryer at this point (Whirlpool LER4634JQ1). Here is what i have done since last posting. Took the back off the dryer and opened the blower housing to clean out lint; also vacuumed lint from cabinet. Results: no improvement whatsoever.

Called an electrician to test outlet and breaker. Voltage and wiring at outlet were fine. Cord is also fine and attached correctly. Breaker is very old and wattage seemed to drop off more frequently than expected while dryer was running so he changed out breaker. Result: I ran a normal load for 50 minutes on timed dry and it was still significantly wet, but also seemed less wet than before. Dryer and vent were also noticeably hotter to the touch.

Took apart dryer and tested the high limit fuse and cycling fuse for continuity and for temperature sensitivity. Both were fine. Checked the thermal fuse for continuity while i was in there and it too is fine. Took out heating element and visually inspected then tested for continuity and it was fine. Cleaned and reinstalled all parts makig sure contacts were secure. Results: ran a normal load on automatic set to very dry. The dryer ran an hour then stopped. Everything was damp and the one pair of jeans and two towels were significantly wet.

Summary: I've done everything I can think of, and the dryer works better now, but still is not getting an ordinary load dry in one cycle. Is there anything else I can do? (PS. With the panel that covers the power connections removed, i can see the orange glow from the heating element. It seems to stay on more than it did before, so maybe that is why we have some improvement. Still I got better drying performance from our old machine until a couple months ago when this whole issue started.)
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:14 AM
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See the attachment for the wiring diagram.

I would do the following just to be 100% sure that the venting is OK.
Unplug the unit and disconnect it from the vent system.
Now try a run.
If it now dries OK odds are the vent system needs checking/cleaning.
Be sure to check that the louvers on the outside of the house open correctly.

If you do not want any lint in the house.
Take a pair of pantyhose.
Put one leg into the other and then attach this to the dryer's vent.
Leave enough room so the pantyhose can balloon out like a windsock.

Both the above will let you check the temperature and the air flow.

Took apart dryer and tested the high limit fuse and cycling fuse for continuity and for temperature sensitivity.
I am assuming that you mean thermostat not fuse.
The hi-limit should not be part of this problem as it is just a safety device.

I am not sure how you checked the operating thermostat for temperature sensitivity.
You could check the exhaust temperature on high heat. The thermostat opens at 155 degrees F and closes at 130 degrees F so your exhaust temperature should be in that range.

Checked the thermal fuse for continuity while i was in there and it too is fine.
The thermal fuse if blown would kill power to the motor.

Took out heating element and visually inspected then tested for continuity and it was fine.

Did you check from each coil connector to the case, just to be sure it is not grounded? Both should have measured infinite ohms.

I am also not sure how the electrician tested the power.
Although I do not like doing live tests due to the danger you may have no choice. Check the 240 volts when the unit is running. It should not vary much when the element is on or off.

I am assuming that you have checked the blower wheel and it is clean and solidly attached to the motor shaft.

Have you checked the lint filter. Sometimes they can get coated in fabric softener residue and reduce air flow.

Check that all internal seals in the air flow path are OK.

Just grasping at straws here.
Strange that you get the same symptoms on different dryers and the common components to both units (power and vent) seem OK.
But could be different cause but same symptoms.
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Old 08-09-2013, 03:49 AM
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Thank you,denman, very much for that very thorough answer! I think I have solved my dryer mystery, but more on that in a moment. First, I wanted to address a few of your questions/comments.

I am assuming that you mean thermostat not fuse.
The hi-limit should not be part of this problem as it is just a safety device.

Yes,thermostat is what I meant, and sorry for the brain lapse. As for the hi-limit therm not being a possible cause of this problem, I beg to differ. According to the trouble-shooting website I used, this thermostat can malfunction and kick in prematurely. If that happens the burner gets shut off at too low a temp and causes the exact problem I have. This is rare but it can happen.

I am not sure how you checked the operating thermostat for temperature sensitivity.
The same website gave me a great tip for how to do that very thing! You take the thermostats out and place them on an electric griddle (or I actually used my toaster oven). Then you slowly turn up the heat while testing continuity to see if the thermostat activates at the proper temp or goes off too soon. I could actually hear each thermostat make a clicking noise when it activated. As soon as it clicked the continuity went from zero to infinity. It’s a pretty cool test!

The thermal fuse if blown would kill power to the motor.
Yes, I had read that, and it probably WAS overkill to test it, but it was right there next to the cycling thermostat and easily removed. And after getting other incorrect info online (such as being told that measuring voltage proves the machine is getting enough power when what you REALLY need to measure is amps), you will forgive me for being skeptical and deciding to just test everything while I was at it.

I am also not sure how the electrician tested the power.

He used a clamp-on ammeter which he hooked to the wires that attach to the breaker in the breaker box. He did this while the dryer was running and was thus able to see exactly how many amps of current it was pulling and how those amps fluctuated. I had already checked voltage while the unit was running, but the fact is that knowing voltage alone is not enough. If the voltage readings are off, you know there’s a problem, but if the readings are OK, that doesn’t necessarily mean the current is OK because you haven’t yet measured the current. To use a metaphor,it’s like taking an xray. An xray will only show you so much. If it shows what the problem is then GREAT, you may not need to look further. But if it doesn’t show anything, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a torn muscle or something that only an MRI will pick up!



So, as it turns out,my dryer issue was two-fold, which is why it has been so hard to identify. When the electrician changed out the breaker,that was the first part of the problem solved. The dryer definitely increased heat output and cut off about 45 minutes of drying time with the new breaker. The reason it still takes too long, I have now realized is that my washing machine isn’t doing a very good job spinning the clothes out! This possibility had not occurred to me because the washer is only about two years old, and the problem must have developed gradually enough that I did not notice any difference in the clothes that came out of the washer. However,now that I have closely observed the washer spinning both with and without clothes, I realize that it is bouncing around way too much. That certainly shouldn’t happen when the machine is spinning empty! A friend of mine tipped me off to this possibility after having the same thing happen to her. So, now I’m off to investigate how to fix my washer! Thanks again.

Last edited by Dmillbhawk : 08-09-2013 at 03:58 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:29 AM
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I should have thought of that.
Got the power and air flow as a constant between the dryers but the clothes are a third constant that did not pop into my head.
It should have as this I have seen before and actually asked the right question.
C'est la vie.

The tone of your post makes me think that I may have ruffled your feathers.
If so I apologize but the technical ability of the posters on this forum varies a great deal.

I try to keep my posts as basic as possible while giving as much info as possible. At the same time I am trying to educate people so that if they have other appliance problems they will have some basic knowledge and ability to get the unit up and running.

My comment on the thermal fuse was to get you to look at the wiring diagram so that you do not go down the garden path. Many folks cannot read a wiring diagram but if they do it once then they realize it is not very difficult.

As to is it a fuse or a thermostat it may just be semantics and in your case I knew what you meant.
But I feel it is important to point out that a part's description is important unless you want to spend a lot of time heading in the wrong direction.

I agree with all the points you made.
We just look at things in a different way.
Again I apologize if I upset you.

Good luck with the washer.

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Old 08-09-2013, 12:48 PM
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Oh no, I didnt mean to sound upset! I was genuinely impressed that you took the time to give such a thorough answer, and I thought you might want to know about the hi-limit therm and the temperature test and electrical testing, etc(and it also might help someone else who finds this thread). But I am a dry- humor sort of person, and so I think on a forum without the advantage of facial expression and body language, my tone might come across wrong. Sorry for that. It HAS been irritating dealing with this dryer issue (and now washer issue), so pardon please if that shows up in my posts! I now know a heck of a lot more about dryers and electricity than I ever wanted to. I guess thats a good thing . . . But I would have rather been refinishing some furniture or doing one of the other projects I was hoping to get to this summer.
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Old 08-09-2013, 04:55 PM
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Thanks for the tip yep being a tech sometimes we overlook the obvious for people to check when we're dealing with a machine but you're absolutely right i try and tell people that when a dryer is running fine when i test them but alot of times they can't grasp the fact of the clothes not spinning out right or an oversized load doing the same and they just don't get it and automatically think it's something to do with the dryer....same concept is the customers that always insist it's the element that's always out on dryers and in fact it rarely ever is but hey i guess that's why we make the big bucks coming out to places to figure that out huh.........Glad you figured it out and glad to help.
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