Landlord/tenant responsibility for converting outlet voltage
March 16, 2006 1:49 PM   Subscribe

We have just moved into a rental condo. The laundry area is equipped for a 110V gas clothes dryer. Of course, ours is an electric dryer requiring 240 Volts. We want to have the outlet converted to the correct voltage, but I'd like to know whether we should expect to pay for this before contacting our new landlord, and how much it will cost.

Here's the cringe-worthy bit: the condo came equipped with a very basic washer and dryer already, but as I already had a very nice set with all sorts of handy settings which I am quite attached to, I told the landlord that the new washer and dryer weren't necessary. I hoped it wouldn't be a big deal, as she could sell them or use them elsewhere. They were wheeled away almost two weeks ago. Only after we slid our own washer and dryer in did we see our mistake. Where I come from, this electric connection is standard, but it doesn't seem to be that way here.

So, how do I go about requesting this modification in a considerate way? I really hate to put our landlord out for this, especially after making it such a big deal in the first place. Do I contact her for the fix, and offer to pay up front? Or is this something that landlords have to do all the time, and expect to pay for? I'm definitely tending towards an up-front offer of payment, if only to feel like less of a jerk.
posted by moira to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Ask the landlord if she still has the equipment. Maybe you could offer to pay to have them shipped back to you.

Re-wiring could be expensive. It depends on where the fusebox is. In my apartment, this would have meant running 240 cable about 10 feet. With concrete ceilings, we would have had no choice but to go along the walls. My neighbour did this and had to pay to have it boxed in. Just the electrical connection cost C$500 and I don't know how much new drywall, paint and the like cost. Plus you might not even have an open spot in your fusebox for this. You'll also need a permit and the permission of the strata council. All in all, pretty pricey.

We installed a 120V washer-dryer combo. We've been happy since we avoided all the other costs and inconveniences involved with putting in 240.
posted by acoutu at 2:03 PM on March 16, 2006

No. I'd say you're the one who's probably going to foot that bill. Your landlord offered you a working washer and dryer and you turned it down--it's not her responsibility to change the electricity to conform with the dryer you opted to bring.

That said, if she hasn't sold them, you could call her and offer to pay for them to be brought back and reinstalled. You might also just want to buy a cheap 110V gas dryer, as the cost of it might be less than the cost of converting the outlet.

Bottom line: your landlord won't expect to pay for this and shouldn't be expected to do so.
posted by yellowcandy at 2:06 PM on March 16, 2006

Thanks for confirming what I felt. My husband and I both tend to be real suckers - the type people will take advantage of - so it's good to get a second opinion sometimes. It hurts to spend the money, but I want to do the reasonable thing.

Sounds like just buying a gas dryer will be the cheapest and most convenient way to go. (The more I think about it, the more I'd prefer to not bug the landlord about it at all.)
posted by moira at 3:31 PM on March 16, 2006

Just to emphasize something that acoutu mentioned: it's not just a matter of rewiring the power plug. To put in 240V you have to run a 3-phase wire from the breaker box to the plug, and if what's there is a 110V plug it probably isn't 3-phase.

So rewiring would actually require running a new cable from the breaker box to where your washer and drier are -- and that's usually a royal pain in a place that's already built, unless you're lucky enough to have your breaker box right in the laundry area.

It's a lot easier to run power lines before the wallboard is hung.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:34 PM on March 16, 2006

Steven C. Den Beste writes "Just to emphasize something that acoutu mentioned: it's not just a matter of rewiring the power plug. To put in 240V you have to run a 3-phase wire from the breaker box to the plug, and if what's there is a 110V plug it probably isn't 3-phase."

Three phase is something else entirely, she would only need a single phase, 240V, 30A service. This would still mean running new wire.

One of the reasons you might have a gas service only is the electrical panel wouldn't support the 30A service. I've seen this alot in single family dwellings converted to duplexes. In which case even if you were willing to pay for it you would have to upgrade the service panel and also possibly the line from the street to the house.
posted by Mitheral at 4:36 PM on March 16, 2006

Yeah, I meant they'd have to run a 30A service and that the electrical box might not support that or have any slots left.
posted by acoutu at 5:03 PM on March 16, 2006

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