low-voltage power outlet question from a dummy

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  #1  
Old 06-11-05, 04:39 PM
Ying,Chung
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low-voltage power outlet question from a dummy

my dryer stopped working and i used a multimeter to test the voltage coming out of the power outlet. instead of 240V, the meter showed 41V. what's wrong with my power outlet? why is the voltage this low? what could be the problems?

if this problem has been answered too many times, would someone kindly show me how to search for the solutions? i have tried the search function, but i don't even know what to look for...

thank you very much.

Chung
 
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Old 06-11-05, 07:21 PM
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How did you measure the voltage? What kind of meter do you have?
 
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Old 06-11-05, 09:41 PM
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The 41-volts is phantom voltage. It means nothing. It's the same as a reading of zero volts. You have a simple open circuit. Could be as simple as a tripped breaker, or a failed connection. Dryer circuits are normally dedicated circuits, so the failure is most likely either in the panel or at the receptacle. Or somebody put a nail into the cable hanging a shelf. Any new shelves in your house? Or new pictures? Or did you have your house resided?
 
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Old 06-12-05, 09:18 AM
Ying,Chung
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
The 41-volts is phantom voltage. It means nothing. It's the same as a reading of zero volts. You have a simple open circuit. Could be as simple as a tripped breaker, or a failed connection. Dryer circuits are normally dedicated circuits, so the failure is most likely either in the panel or at the receptacle. Or somebody put a nail into the cable hanging a shelf. Any new shelves in your house? Or new pictures? Or did you have your house resided?
woah, you sounded very experienced. they did renovate our townhouse and replaced wood boards right above the panel. so how can a nail possibly affect my dryer's circuit and how can i fix it?

meanwhile, i checked my breakers and none of them were tripped, but i still reset them. now, can a breaker still be bad even if they don't appear to be tripped?

again, thank you guys very much.

Chung
 
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Old 06-12-05, 03:31 PM
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You might consider calling in professional help at this point. There are a few things you can do first. Shut off the breaker. Test to make sure the dryer receptacle is dead. Then pull it out of the box and check the connections. Turn the breaker back on and test for voltage directly on the wires.

The next step is dangerous and should not be attempted by a novice. Carefully take the cover off the panel (you can get killed just doing this if you're not careful), and test both poles of the breaker for voltage.

If all of the above checks out and you're still alive, then you'll need to remove the finish material either on the inside or outside so that you can inspect the wires coming out of the panel. If a nail did hit the cable, it should be repaired by a professional (and you should bill back to the guys who replaced the boards).
 
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Old 06-12-05, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Ying,Chung
now, can a breaker still be bad even if they don't appear to be tripped?
Yes.
But two breakers dont go bad at the same time.
check the voltage from ground (or neutral line) to the hot lines, that should be 120 volts on each hot, 240 Volts from hot to hot line.
 
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Old 06-12-05, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Ying,Chung
.... so how can a nail possibly affect my dryer's circuit and how can i fix it?
HOW? LIke some moron with a hammer for a brain driving nails right into the wiring, that's how!

you fix it by following John's directions - especially the part about being very careful! And shut off the main breaker if you do start pulling boards. If there is a nail (or 2!) through the wiring all sorts of things could happen when you start moving things around - including zapping you a good one.

the good news here is that with the dryer being a dedicated circuit troubleshooting is pretty straightforward. It's one of 3 things - the receptacle, the breaker, or the wire between them. It won't take a pro long to figure out which. And if it is related to the renovation you'll absolutely want a pro to assess "collateral damage" and get everythig back in order correctly.

-art-
 
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Old 06-13-05, 09:19 PM
Ying,Chung
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thanks, guys, for all the replies.

i have decided to call and ask for a professional's help. since i live by myself 99% of the time, i'd hate to get shocked and noone knows until it's too late, so... anyway, you guys have been very kind with your knowledge, thanks again. and i will post the result as soon as the electrician figures out what went wrong.

Chung
 
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Old 06-16-05, 01:47 PM
Ying,Chung
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okay guys, problem solved, it was the breaker... :mask: i didn't reset it correctly. my friend came, flipped the switch, all were good.
i wish i had more common sense...

Chung
 
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Old 06-16-05, 03:44 PM
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Ying,

Make sure you flip the breaker ALL the way off and then back on....in order to reset it correctly.

Nice one John..."If all of the above checks out and you're still alive"....lol
 
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