Should a 30 amp, 2 pole breaker be hot on both "breakers"?

anniel89January 25, 2013


Just bought a new house. Old Magic Chef dryer runs but has no heat. I took it apart, checked all the t-stats and the thermal fuse for continuity. Everything checked out ok.

I went to the electrical panel and used my tester to check both "breakers" of the circuit - it's 2 in 1.

The top breaker is hot. The bottom one is not.

I replaced the breaker and I'm finding the same problem.

Should both breakers be "hot" - that is, have a current?

Far as I can tell electric dryers use one circuit to heat, the other to tumble, etc.

If one of those breakers is somehow not getting power, that would explain the problem. But why isn't the breaker getting power?


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Ron Natalie

Both sides of a 240 breaker should have 120V to ground and 240V between the two of them. How are you measuring this?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 6:55PM
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I just put my tester (the one that beeps when you put the plastic tip on a hot wire) on the front of the breaker, next to the switch.

It buzzed on the top one, but not on the bottom one. Buzzed on all the other breakers as well.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:06PM
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1. A dryer uses 240 for heating, both lines, and 120 for controls and motors, one of the lines.
2. When you replaced the breaker was there a tab or slot for both sides of the breaker? Try moving the breaker by swapping with another, can be as simple as pulling a single next to the double, move the double one space and place the single in the open slot.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:24PM
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Both poles of the breaker should be "hot". I'd suggest turning off the breaker and then turning it back on. It's not uncommon for one half of a double pole breaker trip without making it visually apparent that it is tripped.

If it trips again, then additional investigation is warranted.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Ron Natalie

A two pole breaker that doesn't take out both poles when either side trips is DEFECTIVE and needs to be be replaced.

His non contact tester is NOT a really great way of diagnosing things.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 8:37AM
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A non contact tester and even some digital volt meters are not all that reliable in crowded wiring.

A DVM's input impedance is often so high it can pick up 'stray voltage' by capacitive coupling, the same 'trick' that non-contact testers use.

Luckily the error is usually to indicate voltage is present when it is NOT actually there.

It can make trouble shooting a PITA though when it says dead circuits are still live.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 1:08PM
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