Washer / dryer outlet not working

msgreatdealsJuly 29, 2009

I'm a woman and don't know much about this stuff but hopefully maybe someone can help me. My washer would not start last night but the lights on it were working (duet machine). I tried the dryer and it was working (same outlet). This morning I called repair and they said unplug the machine and then replug. I did and for a second it looked like it was going to work and then everything went dead. I tried the dryer and now it won't work. Looks like the outlet died? House is 19 years old. I checked the GFCI (2) and both were good. I went to the breaker box and the switch for that outlet was off and when I tried to turn it on, it went right back off. The lights (2 recessed) work fine in the laundry room. Hoping just a new outlet and if so, a 20 amp?

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Don't worry, a lot of men don't know much about this stuff either. I'm not familiar with Whirlpool Duet appliances, but if they're like most other appliances the dryer will require it's own separate 30A 120V/240V circuit. The washer and dryer would not be on a shared circuit. Does the dryer have a regular plug like the washer, or does it have a big round plug with 4 prongs on it? The dryer would not normally be on a GFCI circuit if it was 120V/240V.
That being said, you have a short circuit somewhere in the washer circuit. That is indicated by the fact that when you try to reset the breaker in the panel, it immediately trips back to the off position. If you try resetting the breaker again after about a half hour and it still trips off, my suggestion is to call an electrician to troubleshoot the circuit. There could be many places for the fault, starting inside the receptacle, or the panel, or in the appliance itself. Why the dryer would not operate at the same time is a mystery, as it should be on a completely different circuit unless it is 120V only and is a small stackable unit. Either way, call an expert (not an appliance repair person at this point).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 12:37PM
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Thank you for the quick follow up. Both the gas dryer and washer have been sharing the same outlet for years. The washer is just 2 years old. Dryer has 3 prong like the washer and there is no GFCI there. Actually, I have a GFCI in a bathroom, kitchen and garage. Laundry room is between kitchen and garage. Had 220 added 2 months ago for new oven and some electrical work in the kitchen for remodel but no problems there. Washer/dryer are on own breaker. Going to replace outlet and if that does not do it, guess I will call the electrician.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 12:57PM
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I assumed electric dryer. Sorry. What you can do yourself then is to make sure the breaker is off and remove the duplex receptacle that both the washer and dryer plug in to. Look for a black or red wire that may be loose and touching the electrical box or another wire. A black or red wire normally goes to a brass colored screw connected to the short slot of the receptacle, and a white wire normally goes to the silver colored screw connected to the longer slot of the receptacle.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 1:12PM
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Before you replace the outlet;

1. remove both washer and dryer plugs from the outlet and turn the breaker back on. If it trips the outlet/line has a problem.

2. If the outlet stays on plug ONE of the machines in. If it trips that is the problem, if not

3. Unplug the one machine and plug the other in and repeat above steps.

4. Now you should be able to tell where the problem is.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 1:15PM
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hendricus has it almost right...

You may have a problem with one of the appliances. You want to be sure that if the circuit works with nothing plugged in, that you want to turn off the power first before you plug in and test the washer and dryer individually.

Then you can switch on the breaker to see if it trips the breaker.

The point being is that if there is a short in the appliance, it may spark at the plug when you plug it in if the outlet is powered.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 3:33PM
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I've seen this alot recently in the last few years. Code requires separate circuits for washers and dryers, but several older homes have just one outlet back there that serviced an old-style top-load washer (which relied on an external hot water tank for warm or hot water) and a gas dryer, which used 120V/15A power to spin the drum, blow the fan, and run the electronics. Both of these worked fine sharing a single circuit.

But now, people are buying internally-heated front-load washers that draw in a small amount of water (usually cold water no matter how the controls are set, since it's long cooled down in the residual pipes leading from the water heater tank). Then the internal water heater kicks in adding 1000 to 1300 watts to the load, plus whatever the washer needs to run the motor. Run a dryer off the same outlet at the same time, and the circuit overloads.

I'd bet if the washer were set to tap-cold-water-only, with all the quick-speed, delecate fabrics, and low-soil options selected (so as not to have it turn on the heater), the washer and dryer would continue to coexist in peace on the same circuit. Doing this would hobble the washer's capabilities though, so a separate, dedicated 120V/20A line should still be installed for the washer.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 7:52AM
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