The Causes of Electric Dryer Outlet and Cord Failures

Clothes Tumbling in Dryer
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As is in most homes today, you probably have either a gas or electric clothes dryer. In the case of the electric clothes dryer, they are convenient when they work properly. That leads us to the old question of why isn't my dryer drying? When troubleshooting this issue, you must first know what to look for.

The Causes of Electric Dryer Outlet and Cord Failures

Go to the electrical panel and see if either the fuse or circuit breaker feeding the clothes dryer is blown or tripped. If so, this could indicate a wiring problem either in the machine itself, a broken and shorted heating element, a dryer cord problem, a dryer outlet problem, or any of the many electrical wire connections from the electrical panel to the dryer itself.

If your electric dryer outlet and cord are getting hot but your dryer is not, it may be because of loose electrical connections. It is pretty evident in the photo that this was an electrical fire just waiting to happen. As you can see in the photo, the right connection post has actually been burnt off of the insulating post. Poor electrical connections, both at electrical terminals and the connection point of the cord and outlet, are often the cause of electrical fires in homes. 

This particular outlet had a loose electrical connection under the burnt terminal where the feeder wire landed. The result was an increase in resistance and that in turn generated heat. The heat grew as the demand for current to heat the dryer increased. This, in turn, heated the plastic housing around the blades of the electric dryer cord.

Like a loose wire connection, another factor that can do similar damage is the connection between the cord plug and the outlet itself. The left terminal connection had this problem; the connection fingers of the outlet were loose, causing a heat buildup on the cord blade and the outlet post. As with any outlet, if you plug the cord into the outlet and it seems to want to fall back out of the outlet, that's a telltale sign that the finger grips are worn out and that the outlet should be changed.

If you look in your local electrical supply shop or in the electrical department of your hardware store, you are likely to find a tension-checking tool. This is an easy tool to check every outlet in your home to see if they have the appropriate amount of tension. Simply plug it in, pull it out, and look at the tension amount. The guide supplied will give you the full details. It's a nice tool to have in the old electrical toolbox!