Dryer Intermittent No Heat - Dryer or Breaker?

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Markon

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I have an odd situation. I'm renting here and the dryer fails to produce heat about 1 in 5 times I run it. The first time it happened, the complex sent their handyman. The report mentioned something about flipping the breaker to remedy the problem. So ever since then, when it happens, I flip the breaker off then on again. And that works. The breaker is never in the off position when this happens. It's a double breaker. The breaker box is from the 80s or 90s. The dryer (Whirlpool WED4850HW0) is pretty new.

I opened a new maintenance call. But I'm guessing when the handyman comes back, the dryer will work fine. He won't do anything if he can't see the problem in action. My hunch is that the breaker box needs to be replaced. But who knows. It could be a coincidence that the dryer always works after I turn the breaker off and on?

I'm wondering how hard would this be to diagnose, while the dryer is working fine? Do we need to catch it while the dryer isn't working?

Any comments are greatly appreciated. I'm really just looking for a little basic knowledge so I know what's going on. Then maybe I can relay it to my landlord and get them to send an electrician.

Thanks!
markon
 

Fitter30

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Lint screen clean. Is the drier connected to the exhaust hose? Disconnect hose turn drier on if it runs longer than hooked up exhaust hose could be stopped up and vent pipe.
 

Afjes

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I'm renting here
Most important thing is that since you are renting you can not do anything with the electrical system nor can you have even a licensed electrician do anything without first getting the approval of the owner/landlord.

I don't see a problem with putting a meter to the receptacle and the breaker that feeds that receptacle to see if you are getting 120v/240v on both ends but you can't do more than that with the electrical system. If you do and something goes wrong you are liable for any damages etc as this is not your property. Even if the landlord says you can call an electrician in I would hesitate and let the landlord select the electrician, again if something goes wrong the landlord can not put it on you that you did not select a qualified electrician.

As far as the dryer is concerned, if you own the dryer you can do with it as you please.
Check to be sure the vent is cleared out of any dust-bunnies. This will cause it to overheat and maybe burn out the thermal overload.
It is possible also that the heating element is going out on you.

Again, limit anything you do to only the dryer. If the landlord owns the dryer you can't do anything with it again because you don't own it.
 

Markon

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Lint screen clean. Is the drier connected to the exhaust hose? Disconnect hose turn drier on if it runs longer than hooked up exhaust hose could be stopped up and vent pipe.

Thanks Filter30. The lint screen is cleaned every load. It picks up alot. The hose was connected and clear.

Most important thing is that since you are renting you can not do anything with the electrical system nor can you have even a licensed electrician do anything without first getting the approval of the owner/landlord.

I don't see a problem with putting a meter to the receptacle and the breaker that feeds that receptacle to see if you are getting 120v/240v on both ends but you can't do more than that with the electrical system. If you do and something goes wrong you are liable for any damages etc as this is not your property. Even if the landlord says you can call an electrician in I would hesitate and let the landlord select the electrician, again if something goes wrong the landlord can not put it on you that you did not select a qualified electrician.

As far as the dryer is concerned, if you own the dryer you can do with it as you please.
Check to be sure the vent is cleared out of any dust-bunnies. This will cause it to overheat and maybe burn out the thermal overload.
It is possible also that the heating element is going out on you.

Again, limit anything you do to only the dryer. If the landlord owns the dryer you can't do anything with it again because you don't own it.

Thanks Afjes. I definitely wasn't planning on attempting any of this myself. I just wanted a little knowledge on the situation because the first guy they sent over a few months ago wasn't any help at all. I thought I would need to put in a call to the office. I feel a little better after yesterday though. This guy wants to do some electrical tests. But he does want to do them when the unit isn't working. He actually admitted that he had the same problem in his unit and it ended up being a bad breaker. But he wants to be sure before they replace the box. I just have to do some loads during the week when he is on call.
 

Afjes

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Markon:
I missed the fact that the guy was from the management you rent from. Ok, that's on him then. What ever he does is not your liability that I can see.
If what you say about when the dryer does not heat the breaker has to be flipped off and then back to on then there is a problem in the panel. If they want to replace the entire breaker panel that is up to them; fine you get a new panel.

You say this happens 1 out of 5 times (about). The dryer is basically new so I don't think it is a dryer issue since flipping the breaker seems to fix it at the moment. Flipping the breaker is telling me that there may be a loose connection at the breaker such as one of the hot wires of the two pole breaker has become loose enough so it does not make contact with the breaker. Flipping the breaker may just enough move the loose wire enough to make proper contact with the breaker so it works. Loose connections are not good; could cause arcing and heat at the breaker. Also, it may not be a loose connection at the breaker wire but the buss bar that the breaker is connected to. If when the dryer does not heat but still tumbles this says you are losing one leg of the 240v. A two pole breaker works off of two legs of your service coming in. The dryer tumbler, timer, etc works off of 120v which is one leg of the two pole breaker. If it does not heat then it is losing a leg of the two leg service because of the issues I listed here so therefore will not heat but still tumble, timer will work etc.

Troubleshooting a problem when you can't recreate it "on demand" meaning the guy can't recreate the problem when he is there so it is harder to figure out what the cause may be.

Since the dryer is theirs and not yours and you rent I would let them worry about dealing with the issue but I would keep after them to find a permanent solution other than flipping the breaker each time as that is telling me there is a problem at the panel. Breaker, busbar, loose wire etc. Don't go poking around in the panel. Let them deal with it but keep after them since the dryer is part of what you pay for in rent. They are obligated to fix it. Learning what the problem is works for me if that is what you want to do. Standard breakers are not made to be flipped on and off on a regular basis and will wear the breaker out over time; how much time, can't tell you.

Just keep after them but be nice about it. Nothing you can do other than that. But being a new dryer I can't see it being a problem with the dryer if flipping the breaker solve the issue each time. They should focus on the breaker, busbar, possible loose wires into breaker etc.

Be sure to let us know how things go.
 

Markon

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Thanks for the great response Afjes. The latest maintenance guy is alot more qualified than the guy they sent out before him. And he seems more sympathetic to my cause. So I think I'm okay. I'll update whenever it gets figured out.
 

Jeff H Young

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Here is some knolwedge breakers sometimes just fail get weak and continually pop. I had one that continualy failed I was puzzled home was pretty new like only 8 years old , circuit had very light load on it , called brother in law a Electrition he said it happens some times breakers fail I wanted to be sure but, didnt have skills to properly diagnose , just went ahead and replaced it 10 years ago never a problem since
 

Markon

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Just an update on this dryer vs breaker issue. I was finally able to get the handyman over while the dryer wasn't working.

It turned out that the breaker was moved out of position just a tiny bit. All this time, it looked like it was still switched on to me. But I guess that tiny bit was enough to lose the connection. So he replaced the breaker and all is good now. Thanks for the help!
 
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