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Why does the dryer fuse keep blowing?
May 19, 2012 3:32 PM   Subscribe

Why do my fuses keep blowing?

A few months ago the fuse blew on the dryer's circuit in the basement (the dryer is the only appliance on the circuit). I replaced both fuses (there are two on the circuit, one for each lead). A week later, another fuse blew.

Assuming the dryer was to blame (it was about 40 years old) I replaced the dryer.

Now the fuse has blown again. Each time a fuse has blown the dryer was in use, suggesting that the circuit is overloaded.

They are 30 amp fuses, which is the correct amperage according to the dryer manual and what's on the electrical box. The fuses are probably pretty old (the replacements I found just lying on top of the electrical box in a sealed blister pack and had probably been purchased years ago), but I didn't think fuses would expire.

What could be going wrong?
posted by justkevin to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
 
Your wiring is old and the insulation is degrading and when the dryer is on it's heating up and dead shorting?
posted by mollymayhem at 3:39 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have an electrician in. You will probably have to upgrade to a circuit breaker. Electricity isn't anything to screw around with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:04 PM on May 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is definitely not something you try to cope with yourself. This is where you bring in a pro.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:10 PM on May 19, 2012


Could something else be on the same circuit ? We used to own a house where the breaker would trip when a hair dryer upstairs in the bathroom and the microwave down in the kitchen were on at the same time.
posted by rfs at 4:59 PM on May 19, 2012


Something you don't know about that is.
posted by rfs at 5:01 PM on May 19, 2012


I am an electrician, but not your electrician.

If you have fuses, you have an old set-up. You need to think about up-grading your electrical system regardless of this problem. Convert from fuses to breakers first. Then, if you can, start re-wiring the house, room-by-room. You can have this done in steps, to avoid a huge cost. An licensed electrician should do it. He should pull a permit. Getting a permit is for your benefit, not his.

This current problem could be many things. You need an amp probe / electrical tester to have any chance of finding the problem. Even with a tester, it might be hard to find it. They may have to run a new home-run wire for that circuit.

Either way, you should call a professional. An old fused system should have someone knowledgeable look at it every once in a while. It would not take much to burn your house down.
posted by Flood at 5:41 PM on May 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


And don't have a handyman do it. One of the previous owners of our house had a remodel job done in the kitchen, it looked nice, but there were numerous electrical things wrong, which I've slowly discovered over time as I replace outlets and things. Dryers typically run on 240V, as yours appears to, and this is something that will be less familiar to a handyman, so bearing in mind that they often can't even get the normal stuff right... electrician time.

Double bonus for going to breakers.
posted by jgreco at 7:24 PM on May 19, 2012


"They are 30 amp fuses, which is the correct amperage according to the dryer manual and what's on the electrical box. The fuses are probably pretty old (the replacements I found just lying on top of the electrical box in a sealed blister pack and had probably been purchased years ago), but I didn't think fuses would expire."

Fuses don't expire. However over the years there have been a lot of sub standard fuses produced and some of the worst offenders were blister pack fuses. I must have replaced hundreds of corner store fuses over the years that were the source of the problem in ranges.

It's pretty common for the fuse holders get get a little corroded which can cause the fuses to blow because of localized heating. Before I did anything else I'd by a couple new fuses (at home depot or Lowes or something and not a dollar store or super market). I'd then screw them in with firm pressure and out a few times which will help a bit to ensure good contact. Then take the fuses out and look at the bottom contact of the fuse holder. If it is black/blue or of the insulation around it is blackened or charred then you need to call an electrician. But if everything looks good screw the new fuses in making sure they are tight (just by hand don't use pliers or or other tools) and see what happens.

Flood's eight that you should start budgeting for a significant up grade. Electrical panels wear out from heat cycling and anything with fuses is likely to be well past it's replacement age. Starting with a new service (panel, meter base, wire out to the pole) is the best first step but it is going to cost you 2-3 grand depending on your specific installation.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 PM on May 19, 2012


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