Dryer tripping MAIN breaker at pole?

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  #1  
Old 01-03-14, 10:37 PM
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Dryer tripping MAIN breaker at pole?

I have a 5 yr old home with 200 amp service running to home. My dryer is a fairly new Whirlpool front load combo blah blah. Anyway, in the past the breaker has tripped at the pole, not inside. I would go reset, no big deal. Today, 3 times! Now, my only common denominator in the incidents is the dryer. 2 of the times heat pump was also running, but always dryer in mid cycle. Now in my breaker box, there is a double 30 amp breaker on the dryer that has never tripped, always trips at pole. No gas in home, so everything runs on electric (in case that matters).
Basically I am lost. Why is this happening? Dryer is working fine, as far as functionality (I have read a few places where "element going out" or "it not heating right" and those are signs of dryer CAUSING the issues? I guess). I can do a lil bit of everything, safety first, and believe I can handle little issues. Gonna turn all breakers off 2mar and start checking connections in box, making sure lines in are tight & no loose connections. For the record, when heat kicks on, light on house dim and flicker for split second.
All info, help, or things to check are appreciated. I am trying to hold off on an electrician as long as possible. Had one here LAST WEEK because an entire circuit of plugs & lights went out because on a loose wire on a wall plug, that just happened to be the 1st in a series of 12 plugs or switches. 15 mins, 1 $8 plug ,& $200 of labor later (from a long time family friend electrician); can't handle another hour of labor like that!
 
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  #2  
Old 01-04-14, 06:48 AM
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Welcome to the forums! Is this a manufactured or modular home? Is the dryer tripping the 200 amp main? Your dryer should be on is own 240 volt 30 amp breaker. Is it? Did anyone rewire it since it is new? It may help if you could post pix of the inside of your breaker panel.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 07:29 AM
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200 amps is A LOT of power for a home so I really doubt the dryer itself is causing the issue, more likely the combination of the heat pump and dryer.

The connection I would focus on would the wires to the main breaker. However, these wires are ALWAYS energized unless there is some kind of disconnect before it.
 

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 01-04-14 at 08:31 AM.
  #4  
Old 01-04-14, 07:40 AM
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I agree the dryer may just be adding to the problem but is not the actual problem.
 
  #5  
Old 01-04-14, 07:53 AM
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in the past the breaker has tripped at the pole, not inside.
I'm thinking like Chandler, why would you have a breaker at the pole unless this is a mobile or or modular home?

Tolyn Ironhand

200 amps is A LOT of power for a home so I really doubt the dryer itself is causing the issue, more likely the combination of the heat pump and dryer.

The connection I would focus on would the wires to the main breaker. However, these wires are ALWAYS energized unless there is some kind of disconnect before it.
Also thinking like TI. I'd also focus on the breaker tripping at the pole and load/line side connections.
 

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 01-04-14 at 08:32 AM. Reason: Changed "hot" to "energized" in OP
  #6  
Old 01-04-14, 08:38 AM
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There IS a dryer breaker in the breaker box inside the home! But it never trips! Only the one at the pole. This is not a modular or manufactured home. It is a 2300 sq ft home that sits about 1/4 mile off roadway, and it is on an isolated piece of property, so utility company ran 200 amp service to the pole to accommodate any future additions or add ons I may add later. The breaker in the box, for the dryer, is a double 30 amp. And I have checked the dryer plug and wall socket; no dis coloring or signs or excessive heat, arching, or anything.

My big question is WHY is my breaker in the breaker box (inside home) not tripping? Why is it tripping at the pole and killing all the power to my home?

It happened 3 times yesterday! First time I KNOW everything in the freaking house was on (washer, dryer, dishwasher on a very hot sanitize cycle, heat pump, hot water heater I am sure, & who knows what else). The second time I KNOW the dryer was running, but nothing else except maybe heat pump. Third time same as second.
I uploaded 2 pics, 1st is a picture of the whole breaker box. 2nd is a close up of the area where the dryer breaker is located. Sorry picture quality is bad, but this site wouldn't allow me to upload a good picture, I had to scale it down & it looses quality.
ALL HELP REALLY APPRECIATED!!
 
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Old 01-04-14, 08:45 AM
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My big question is WHY is my breaker in the breaker box (inside home) not tripping? Why is it tripping at the pole and killing all the power to my home?
Go back and read the previous posts again. The general theory so far is that your problem is at the pole, not in your home.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 08:55 AM
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So the line connection concerns that were previously mentioned you guys think are at the pole, not in my breaker box? Because I was just about to start turning everything off inside & out, & check breaker connections (Not main big line though) and was gonna make sure they all tight, but I think I get that the main (big lines) are gonna be hot unless meter pulled.

I just read Read Before Posting; sorry I am in Tennessee.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 09:28 AM
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There is only one thing that trips a breaker, or blows a fuse, and that is heat. Either it is heat from too much current flowing through it, or from a bad connection. The third option is just a bad main breaker.

I suggest the inspecting the main breaker and its connections. Also a clamp on meter would be handy to see how much actual current is flowing and how hot the breaker is getting.

If there is no disconnect before the main, then pulling the meter is the only way to disconnect it. This might require calling the power company or a qualified person.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 12:45 PM
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I think there is some confusion here with the OP's setup. The breaker that is tripping is the one on the pole, the one _before_ the "main". (His panel wouldn't be a sub here.) Checking the "main breaker" (inside) connections would have little benefit.

Bullet546- Do you own that breaker on the pole? At my own place I was just upgraded to a similar setup and I didn't pay a dime so I assume they own it in my case. The power company/co-op _might_ be responsible for making sure things are in order there. It doesn't hurt to call and ask who has to pay for them to come out and check things if it's their equipment.

I'm leaning towards loose connection in the breaker enclosure at the pole. By the way, are you running on strips/emergency heat right now? If so, all bets are off. I can see how you could get close to 200A if you really tried.

If you don't have a clamp-on ammeter, you might turn on a good normal load in the house with heat and dryer and everything, wait a few minutes and then go out to the pole and feel that breaker to see if it's hot.

As an aside, the nice thing about your setup is it makes working on your own panel much easier. Flip off the breaker at the pole and you can monkey with whatever you like in your panel.
 
  #11  
Old 01-04-14, 01:09 PM
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Core,
As explained to me by my electrician "friend", the setup at the pole is mine, & I am responsible. My service is underground from the pole to the home, if if had been overhead, then they would handle everything all the way to the weather head at the roof. So, if I turn off the 200 amp (4 breakers connected together) at the pole, then I can check any connections inside without fear?
I am fairly knowledgeable at DIY, & have a base electrical knowledge, but I am lil lost here.
My friend says he thinks the 200 amp breaker at the pole may be bad and tripping when it gets hot? Maybe? So I am gonna run all my HOT appliances, see if I can get it to trip and see if inside breaker is hot or outside. Just more info to share later. He says that the breaker could be going bad and tripping untimely. He is gonna borrow a set of "special rubber gloves" from work (at our local utility co) and swing by this week. I just afraid it may trip & not reset if We use dryer again. We have single digit temperatures coming this week and he says that breaker would most likely have to be ordered. I called him, but having come over (friend or not) is gonna cost me, again!

As for a clamp-on ammeter? Don't know what that is? And No, I am not on Emergency Heat.
 
  #12  
Old 01-04-14, 01:33 PM
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Ask your electrician friend for his Amprobe (clamp on amp meter) and how to use it. Basically it just goes around a single insulated wire and tells you how many amps is being used.

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Last edited by Posternine; 01-04-14 at 04:23 PM.
  #13  
Old 01-04-14, 01:46 PM
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So, if I turn off the 200 amp (4 breakers connected together) at the pole, then I can check any connections inside without fear?
Don't bother. If your inside main breaker connections were loose then that would be the one getting hot and tripping. Which is not the case. But yes, if the pole breaker cuts all power to the house then you could even do an entire panel replacement without bothering the power company to pull the meter. Always test voltage first. I wouldn't mess with it in your case. It won't do any good and not worth risking making a silly forgetful mistake or having someone else come along outside and turn it on, when there is nothing to gain.

The only thing that is possibly DIY here, besides the heat investigating you already have planned, is checking the connections on the load side of the outdoor breaker. Just let your "friend" handle it though.

As for a clamp-on ammeter? Don't know what that is?
Clamp type meter:

[ATTACH=CONFIG]24072[/ATTACH]

The jaws open up and you can just slip them over a conductor (like those big thick ones) and see how much juice is running through it, without having to touch or disturb anything. The one linked is $60. You can find them even cheaper.

And No, I am not on Emergency Heat.
If you are absolutely positively sure that the heating elements aren't on then I don't see how you could possibly be drawing anywhere near the limit. So yeah, loose connection on the pole breaker or bad breaker. Sounds like your friend has it covered.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 04:34 PM
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I think there is some confusion here with the OP's setup. The breaker that is tripping is the one on the pole, the one _before_ the "main". (His panel wouldn't be a sub here.) Checking the "main breaker" (inside) connections would have little benefit.
It was the OP who said the main breaker was at the pole. If that breaker is after the meter and the responsibility of the customer (OP confirmed both of these), I'd also call that the main breaker and the panel in the house a subpanel. Regardless, the issue is the main breaker at the pole tripping and the OP will have to call an electrician to troubleshoot/repair the problem.

And No, I am not on Emergency Heat.
I am going to assume that you will be on emergency heat some time in the next 3 days. Judging by your 2300 sq ft, you probably have about 25 KW of emergency heat. You won't have to run your dryer for load to check the main breaker, the heat will be a great test.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 05:07 PM
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I'd also call that the main breaker and the panel in the house a subpanel.
If you call it a subpanel, would you not need a 4th conductor from the pole? I'd bet anything that the neutral bus is bonded in the house.

I am going to assume that you will be on emergency heat some time in the next 3 days. Judging by your 2300 sq ft, you probably have about 25 KW of emergency heat.
That's a good point. If a 30A dryer is enough to push things over the top then 25kW certainly will. Bullet546, you may find yourself in a rather unpleasant situation in the next few days. You might have to disable the emergency heat just to keep the lights on and the heat pump limping along not doing much good. I hope everything gets resolved by then.
 
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Old 01-04-14, 06:03 PM
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If you call it a subpanel, would you not need a 4th conductor from the pole? I'd bet anything that the neutral bus is bonded in the house.
Yes, to install it correctly it would need to be a 4-wire feed, but the OP didn't mention what it was. And yes again, the neutral bus should not be bonded to the box in the house, but we have no way of knowing whether it is or not because we believe the OP's problem is the main breaker at the pole.
 
  #17  
Old 01-05-14, 05:57 AM
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I, too, agree. If a <30 amp draw is tripping a 200 amp main, there are loose connections at the main or the main 200 amp breaker is faulty.
 
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Old 01-05-14, 07:53 AM
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Heat strips 25KW = 104 amps @ 240 volt
Dryer 5KW = 5760 watts = 24 amps @ 240 volt (aprox)

The op still would have a long way to go to hit 200 amps unless we toss in a range.

Yeah, I'm still thinking loose connection at the pole breaker, the one I was referring to the whole time
 
  #19  
Old 01-05-14, 05:50 PM
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The op still would have a long way to go to hit 200 amps unless we toss in a range.

Yeah, I'm still thinking loose connection at the pole breaker, the one I was referring to the whole time
And I agree 100%. I've seen a few homes with 200 amp service that had 25 KW heat as well as electric range, electric dryer and electric water heater. Those loads on a 200 amp service make me nervous.
 
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