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I has no dryer! Halp!

May 6, 2007

About a week ago I found a piece of paper in the basement taped to my dryer. It was from the fire department. It said they’d inspected the apartment recently and found my dryer objectionable. It seems that the extension cable I was using to plug it in to an outlet a few feet away was a fire hazard. There is an outlet directly behind the dryer, next to the gas hookup I’m using, but it’s a 220 volt plug; my dryer cable has a 110 volt plug on it.

I went to Home Depot to get a new 220 volt power cable, hoping I’d just be able to open the back panel of the dryer and swap it with the 110 cable. I found one. But when I got it home I found that the dryer end of the cables were not the same. Here is the new end, and here is the existing end.

So waht the hell do I do now? Get an electrician? Get a new dryer? Tell my landlord that he’s got to give me a 110 wall outlet closer to the gas hookup? I suppose I can sponge off the neighbor’s dryer for a bit, but something’s gotta give.

Advice?

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  1. Hey Scott,

    DON’T plug a 110 appliance into a 220 outlet. BOOM! See if your landlord will let you put a new 110 box where you need it. If you can, you should be able to go to the hardware store and get the items you need yourself. You’d need a length of ROMEX and conduit (1 foot more Romex than conduit) to run from the old box to where you want the new one. You will also need a junction box, and outlet, and a face plate. All you need to do is turn off the breaker for the circuit you’re working on, and install the new conduit and box!

    Send me an email if you’d like any help….I’d be glad to.


  2. Thanks, you’re awesome. I’m still hoping it won’t come to that, but if it does I may drop you a line!


  3. Yeah… the plug ends on a 110 vs 220 are different for a reason. They want to make sure you don’t try to plug one into the other because otherwise the potential current draw of a 220 through a 110 could cause some serious issues.


  4. Well here’s a thought: if the dryer is supposed to be in a 110 outlet, perhaps it’s not, as the fire department said, a hazard to have it plugged into a 110 outlet. Maybe I should call them.


  5. Actually, 220 is simply two 110 circuits in one outlet. If nothing else is being used by the 220 outlet, that could easily be turned in to two 110 outlets. The common could be shared by both outlets. It’s already there and would have a dedicated breaker. As for the hazard, it’s likely the extension cord is what’s causing the problem. There are some appliances an inspector will not want to see used with an extension cord. Especially if it looks like a permanent application.


  6. I’d be surprised if an electric dryer were 11o. If it’s a gas drier with an electric ignition, then that would make a lot of sense.


  7. It’s gas.


  8. Then odds are it actually is a 110 outlet, that’s only used for electric ignition. A gas dryer shouldn’t require 220. So odds are that the fire inspector just had issue with the type of extension cord being used.


  9. So I have a landlord with a gas hookup, presumably for a gas dryer…but with no 110 outlet within reach. And he wants me to overcome the problem.

    Should I try? Or should I tell him that he needs to get me a proper outlet?


  10. Gas dryers still have power cords to run the drum motor, controls and pilot ignition with 110V power cords. They require 15-20A circuit breakers per Whirlpool Estate Dryer installation instructions. This is why the inspector objected to an extension cord for that amp rating.

    The installation instructions for the electric version all require 220V outlets rated to 30 amps. They provide two cords depending on a four prong or three prong 220v outlet. The connections at the dryer matches the ring terminals on the cord you bought.

    From the picture, the existing connector at the dryer doesn’t appear to have the capacity for an electric dryer (wire and spade terminal size are too small for 30A). It looks like you have an gas dryer.

    To be sure, check the nameplate on the back of the dryer say? Is it gas or electric? What is the voltage/current rating. Model No.?

    Next time we meet at TKD, I would be more than happy to take a look at the problem and help find a low cost fix within code. One solution – if it’s an unfinished basement (cement or block wall), running conduit from the existing outlet box or close overhead junction box and adding an outlet box closer to the dryer isn’t a big job. Just need to make sure breaker is rated properly to prevent tripping.

    The following link gets you to Estate dryers, pick your model and then click on installation instructions for the info.

    http://www.estateappliances.com/shopping/default.asp?Appliance=10100


  11. My advice as a handyman, not an electrical engineer:

    You have two options:

    1) Get an appliance cord long enough to reach the 110V outlet and install it on the drier. Firemarshalls hate extension cords, but a single cord long enough to reach is usually ok. You might need to route it along the ceiling or something, though. Make sure the wire gauge on the cord is heavy enough (probably 12 gauge).

    2) Get an adapter for the 220V outlet. I have one that I use for camping, because tralier sites usually have 220V. I’ll bet you can get one at almost any gas station or camping store. Make sure the adapter is rated for a high enough current draw. There should be a plate on the drier explaining its power requirements.

    Those are the two suggestions I have that you can do on your own. I think the adapter would be the better solution. If you want my opinion as an electrical engineer, I’ll have to charge you for a site visit.


  12. In response to Aaron suggestion, the 220V adaptor is worth a try, but make sure it’s rated to 20A.

    As far as lengthening the cord, I know the codes in the town you live in and having long runs of “permanently” installed, exposed cord below grade may not be acceptable, especially since they already cited a hazard. Code requires all installed wire runs below grade to be in EMT (thin wall) conduit. Depending on how long a cord is required, this may not satisfy the inspector. Running it overhead helps to eliminate possible shock hazards during flooding.

    If you do install a longer cord, it will probably be cheaper to buy an extension cord and cut the plug off one end. Just like installed wire, the cord needs to be handle the rated current of the breaker in case of short circuit, otherwise the cord becomes a fire hazard in case of short circuit. As Aaron suggested, a minimum 12 gauge wire size is recommended. At the dryer, you will need to cut and strip the ends of the dryer wires before the connector terminals. Strip back the jacket on the extension cord a few inches, strip each individual wire about ½ inch and wire nut the cord to the existing wires by same color.

    My offer still stands


  13. The objection to the extension cord is probably to the extension cord itself. I have done code enforcement work (I still do some for my fire department, though it really isn’t part of my duties anymore). Every fire code I have seen states that extension cords cannot be used as permanent wiring. In other words, any other extension cord will be in violation of the fire codes as well. I haven’t seen the issue, so I can’t say for sure. But I suspect the only thing that can be done, from a legal standpoint, is to put in a new outlet.



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