30amp receptacle problem....

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  #1  
Old 12-28-13, 05:48 AM
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30amp receptacle problem....

The essence of our situation is this:
We have an electric heater in our basement that is junk, it gets lukewarm and blows that air around, and doesn't really help the temperature much. We bought a heater at Home Depot that we were told would plug into the drier outlet. Now here is the catch:
The heater uses a NEMA 6-30p plug, and the drier uses a NEMA 15-30 (of course). would it be safe to build an adapter/extension cord or would we be better off trying to add a 6-30p receptacle in place of the old heater, which is only 2 wire, and I'm guessing this means it has no ground.

We are a little leery of digging into the breaker box, but can't really afford an electrician to install this (although we may be able to manage to get an electrician just to inspect it afterwards).

Any other ideas or options are more than welcome....we just need to get this new heater working.

Thanks
 
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Old 12-28-13, 06:26 AM
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Trying to figure if you will freeze while drying clothes or not. You won't be able to modify the receptacle, nor the plug since they are dedicated to their application. Your dryer, if wired properly should have a 14-30 with a 4 wire connection, unless it is older.

I would run a dedicated circuit with the proper receptacle for the heater. Not sure who told you it would "just plug into a dryer receptacle", but they obviously lack training. If you need help running the circuit, take pictures of the inside of your breaker panel and post them here so we can guide you through the process, if and only if you feel comfortable doing it.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 06:56 AM
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Given a 30 amp rated heater and a circuit protected by a 30 amp breaker set you may construct an adapter/extension cord with the appropriate plug and receptacle.

But a good reason for installing a new circuit is because you don't want to keep unplugging the heater when you want to use the dryer, and vice versa.

In general an appliance that uses more than half the capacity (in amps) of a circuit should have a dedicated circuit. Hence the typical dedicated circuits for stoves, water heaters, dryers, etc.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 08:04 AM
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Why can you not use the circuit to the old heater? What is the voltage of the old heater?
 
  #5  
Old 12-28-13, 10:14 AM
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As far as freezing while the drier is on, the main reason for heating the basement is just to keep pipes from freezing and a tiny bit of comfort when we check laundry. We keep it cool, and wouldn't complain if the temp dipped a bit while the drier was on....
But, we are considering wiring into the old heater circuit.

The old heater is 240V single phase. It is wired directly in (through a thermostat) on a 30A breaker with 12/2 wire. We don't know the wattage on this heater.

The new heater is 240V 4800W and has a built-in cord with the 6-30P.

The basic plan (now) is to turn off the breaker, (test it), disconnect the wire from the old heater and run the wire into a boxed 6-30R.

Is there any reason that this wouldn't be kosher? Is the 12/2 wire appropriate? We THINK we understand, but fact is we aren't electricians, so want to be sure.

Just a note: We do know that our insurance company would prefer that a heater for the basement be hard-wired in. At this point we are mainly wanting to confirm that the new heater will work for our needs, if it doesn't we can take it back (no wires modified), if it does work we will look at hard wiring it down the road.

Thanks again for the input so far everyone!!
 
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Old 12-28-13, 10:23 AM
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Is the 12/2 wire appropriate?
The 12/2 is not appropriate. !2/2 is rated for 20 amps maximum.

You would need 10-2 on a 30 amp breaker for your application.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 10:24 AM
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Twelve gauge wire is not suitable for use on a 30 amp circuit. It should be 20 amps maximum. The circuit should also be grounded.
 
  #8  
Old 12-28-13, 10:36 AM
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THANK YOU!!
This is exactly the kind of information we needed....the kind that will save our butts if we had tried it the other way. Its too bad we have to go get more wire, but it is way better than the alternative!!!

So, correct me if I am wrong....the wire we saw in the hardware store that was 2 wire actually had another wire in between the two wires....isn't that third (uncounted) wire the one that would go to the ground slot of the receptacle?
 
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Old 12-28-13, 10:40 AM
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Standard NM (romex) wiring should say 10-2 w/g Which means with bare ground wire.
 
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Old 12-28-13, 10:40 AM
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If the third wire is bare or green it would be the ground and connect to any metal boxes and the third prong on a receptacle.
 
  #11  
Old 12-28-13, 03:14 PM
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Yep, the third wire is bare! All of the 2-wire spools of 10g at the hardware store had the third wire, that's what we'll go for. It makes me a little concerned about the old heater, it's a big one, and wired with 12g. Even better, before us the house was owned (and we believe rewired) by an electrician, so to us it calls into question the rest of the wiring in the house (scary thought).

We'll double check codes....although our first concern is testing the new heater SAFELY. We believe code requires a permanent heater to be hard-wired....but as I mentioned testing it on the outlet setup will be very short term.

Thanks all, huge help!!!
 
  #12  
Old 12-28-13, 07:00 PM
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So, correct me if I am wrong....the wire we saw in the hardware store
I am no expert on Canadian codes, but I believe up there for a 240 volt circuit the cable must have one Blk insulated and one Red insulated conductor plus the 3rd ground wire.
 
  #13  
Old 12-29-13, 11:45 AM
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That is exactly what we've got CasualJoe, the black and red insulated and the 3rd bare ground wire (something that was a little puzzling at first trying to identify a 10/2 wire).

On the sort of up side....we put together the "plug" end of our 10/2 wire, mounted the plug, and were just getting ready to hold our breath to remove the first screws on the breaker box and we heard something.
Crackle crackle.
Uh oh.
So, looks like we're likely going to need another breaker switched out. We're checking everything over and making sure we know what breaker it is (it appears to be the bedroom heater). We are also trying to determine if it is the breaker or the heater that is the actual problem.....it does appear to be the breaker because the 1250W heater running on 120 should be using about 10.4A (right?). The current breaker is a 20A.

So, sort of an up-side. By doing this project we were at the breaker panel long enough to hear this noise, and turn it off before a problem (fire, or who knows what) happened. So now the plan is to go get another 20A breaker and swap it out while we are in there. Pain in the behind, but better than the alternative!!
 
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Old 12-29-13, 12:26 PM
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You will need to check the integrity of the bus stabs. Arcing may have damaged it. If so you should not use that stab.
 
  #15  
Old 12-29-13, 12:42 PM
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AH! Thank you pcboss, very important tip! We will watch for that. We're about ready to delve into it here, we just got our 20A replacement breaker.
 
  #16  
Old 12-29-13, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRings
We have an electric heater in our basement that is junk, it gets lukewarm and blows that air around, and doesn't really help the temperature much. We bought a heater at Home Depot that we were told would plug into the drier outlet.
As above check that wire gauge is sufficient to run the drier wattage.

IIWY, I'd return the heater, and redirect the drier exhaust to heat the basement.

If the basement is cold, just hit HEAT on the drier, the usual cycle should be more than enought to take the chill out of the basement.
FYI, an empty half-quart sour cream tub is a perfect fit to plug/winterize a drier vent.

What is the primary heat for the house?
I've got an old farmhouse with oil furnace heat & forced hot air distribution.
When the basement seems chilly or humid (cold snap or post hurricane) I simply open the
air filter access panel for a few hours - it does wonders. All that humid basement air is pulled through the furnace, pushes humidity into the house, pulls it from the basement.

Hal
 
  #17  
Old 12-29-13, 01:42 PM
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Love the tip about the sour cream tub!!!! Our drier is pretty old and not terribly efficient, and at least a bit of efficiency is the prime reason we started on this whole heater "adventure". Unfortunately our entire house is baseboard electric heat. We bought it last year, and there IS a chimney, and a hole where a wood stove could be in the basement (it is plugged and insulated for now, plus we put a temporary cap on the chimney to keep water out). We are hoping in the long term to switch to wood heat and just supplement as necessary with baseboard, but we've got the feeling that is WAY out of our budget right now (though we're going to get someone out here to give us an estimate in the spring).

We just finished wiring everything in. It was pretty easy (just scary, never done it before...and we've got some healthy respect for electricity!).

The new heater is incredible. I'd swear in 5 minutes it did more than the old one ever managed when it would run for hours. Definitely going to wire it in permanently (at that point we will likely be getting an electrician to at least inspect our work). Its fan is a little louder, but really, we just want to not have pipes freeze and not get frostbite when we come down to do laundry.

The sizzling breaker....... We switched the wrong one, it was the next one in the panel. For the time being we're going to just turn that breaker off and switch it out in the next day or two now that the whole concept isn't quite as scary.
 
  #18  
Old 12-29-13, 02:39 PM
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The sizzling breaker....... We switched the wrong one, it was the next one in the panel. For the time being we're going to just turn that breaker off and switch it out in the next day or two now that the whole concept isn't quite as scary.
What kind of panel is it? The sizzling is usually at the connection of the breaker to the bus stab like Pcboss was saying. If it's an aluminum bus panel, the stab is probably toast by now.
 
  #19  
Old 12-29-13, 04:27 PM
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It is a Square D panel. They are aluminum, but they look to be in good shape...no arc marks, etc. The breakers themselves do look fairly old, likely installed with the panel. Since we just moved in last year we haven't blown any breakers ourselves, but of course they may have been tripped a few times in the past (we were told the house was a rented out by the previous owner for a time...who knows what the tenants plugged in!). The more we think about it the more we are considering starting to replace them all, a couple at a time each pay-day, starting with the larger ones and working our way along (we just can't blow the cash to do all at once!).
 
  #20  
Old 12-29-13, 06:02 PM
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It is a Square D panel.
If it's the Square D Homeline it can't be over about 20 years old and it would definitely have aluminum bus stabs. If it's the Square D QO series, it has standard tin plated copper bus and could be up to around 50 to 55 years old. If you know which breaker was sizzling, replace that one. The rest I'd leave alone unless you are having a problem with them.
 
  #21  
Old 12-30-13, 02:52 PM
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Well, we're definitely going to TRY to start with the one that is sizzling, we have it definitively narrowed down to 2 possibilities, both 20A. We're replacing those two and will it at that (though we might get some spares to have next time we have a sizzle, and we'll be keeping our ears open).
The panel says it is a QO series, It doesn't LOOK 50+ years old, but we're no experts. We think it got installed in the late 80s, which is when we think he did his last real renos in this place.

Thanks again for everyone's help on all fronts. We got our heater plugged in, and got rid of our sizzling breakers without spending a fortune on getting an electrician to do something that was actually fairly straight forward and definitely within our skill level (with your great guidance of course!).
 
  #22  
Old 12-30-13, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRings
Love the tip about the sour cream tub!!!! Our drier is pretty old and not terribly efficient, and at least a bit of efficiency is the prime reason we started on this whole heater "adventure".
Well, good to hear that things are working out.

One tangent-
if the new basement heater is working that well,
and as it sounds like you've got an unfinished basement,
you might consider stringing up some clothesline and hanging the laundry out to dry in the basement.

Don't laugh, (now wearing my Realtor hat),
I've had buyers who insisted on a basement or attic so they could hang laundry to dry in winter.
Never quite understood that.

However, I will admit (after visiting inlaws) I've been surprised how quickly you can dry a full load of laundry simply by hanging it in the basement (provided that the furnace is in the basement.)
 
  #23  
Old 12-30-13, 06:19 PM
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The panel says it is a QO series, It doesn't LOOK 50+ years old, but we're no experts. We think it got installed in the late 80s, which is when we think he did his last real renos in this place.
I said "could be up to around 50 to 55 years old". Square D started manufacturing the QO series loadcenters and breakers in the '50s and they are still produced today. The QO series does not use bus stabs and the bus is tin plated copper.

I've had buyers who insisted on a basement or attic so they could hang laundry to dry in winter
I remember many many years ago my mother doing the same thing before she had a dryer.
 
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