Thursday, April 2, 2009

Subject: laundry dryer only running 110

Name: James

Question: Hello,
We recently moved into a home where there was no 220 outlet for my electric dryer. I went down to my local hardware store and they assisted me in getting the necessary supplies to run the outlet. I was given a 3 plug outlet because unfortunately my dryer is older than the new 4 wire code. I did not want to change the specs of my dryer so I went with the old connector way. I purchased a dual pole 30 amp breaker, 40 feet of 10/2 wiring with black, white and ground and the three prong outlet that matches my dryer. I ran the wire, installed the floor mounted outlet, connected the wire and then connected the open end wire to the breaker. Not being an electrician, I was told black and white go into the breaker and the ground goes into the ground pole with the others in my breaker box. My dryer runs however does not heat. My local hardware store informed me that the breaker was bad and to come and replace which I did. I reconnected the breaker and I am only still getting 110 to run the dryer but no heat. I purchased a 2 light meter that reads 110 or 220. The 220 does not light up? Did I mis-wire or is the breaker bad or is there a possibility that the dryer went out on me? These questions I do not know however the dryer was working 1 week prior to our move from a manufactured home and in that location, we had the same 3 prong dryer plug that was installed by me. The only difference is that those wires had red, black and white. The red and black were on top and the white went to the funny "L" shape prong and the bare ground wire was capped with a wire nut. The dryer worked fine with that setup. I am not sure where I am going wrong only that maybe the black / white / ground are not wired right into the outlet? Please help, my last choice would be to purchase a new dryer and have an electrician come out. Thanks San Antonio, TX

Answer: Hi James,

Turn your breaker off now!!! What I think you did is very dangerous. the funny "L" shaped prong is the ground. In your last home they probably use the white wire as the the ground. You are using the white wire as a hot. That means the other 120 volt you are missing is in the metal case of you dryer. If you touch it and your sink!@#$%&. Don't do that. The black and white wire go where your black and red wire were in your old plug.


  1. Maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't the best way to do this be to use 10/3 romex with ground? The black and red wires would run from the breaker to the two hot terminals in the outlet, the white wire would run from the neutral bus bar to the neutral terminal (for the L-shaped prong) and the ground wire would run from the grounding bar to the outlet box and be bonded to the back of the outlet box. This would mean using a metal box, but he probably is anyway. And if he ever buys a new dryer it would then be much easier to swap the three prong outlet for a the new four prong style because all four wires would be present.

  2. Yes 10-3 is the way to go. I think people would do much better by hiring a good electrician to do dryer lines. The code changed in the 90's and it has taken a whiles for the upgrades to take place in the real world. A good electrician should be able to get this done right.

  3. If the O.P. doesn't understand that the white wire in this case was being used as "hot b" then he should definitely hire a professional electrician to do the job. Maybe we should be happy he wasn't not working on a gas dryer.