Dryer Trips Breaker...Except When it Doesn't

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On Wed, 24 Oct 2012 00:44:01 +0000, triple7sss
cycles to dry a load of clothes. I assume the duct is clogged or partially clogged and will get HVAC guy to come out and take a look.

water in and run the flexible duct from the dryer over to it. When I hook that up, clothes dry quickly but it blows the breaker after about 5 minutes of drying. I thought maybe venting warm air was overheating the dryer so I extended the flex tube out to the front of the dryer and got the same results.

turned on the whole house fan that sits directly above to pull cool air in and suck the warm air from the dryer out. It still trips the breaker.

Not sure why the breaker is tripping so I'm not going to speculate. You don't want an HVAC guy to do the dryer vent. He is going to charge you far more than a handyman to do the job. I've even seen a local guy advertise dryer vent cleaning so you may want to check the classified ads in the local shoppers paper for that.
You will probably save $100 that way.
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/maintenance/dryer-trips-breaker-except-when-it-doesn-t-718049-.htm triple7sss wrote: Alright, thanks for that and I'll try and blow it out with the shop vac before I go the HVAC route.
I took the cover off of the breaker panel a bit ago and noticed the black wire going into the breaker gets hot. Not just warm but downright hot. the cord off the dryer going into the outlet isn't warm at all. I don't know if that points to the breaker or the partially shorted heating element.
triple7sss wrote:

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On Wed, 24 Oct 2012 16:44:02 +0000, triple7sss

going into the breaker gets hot. Not just warm but downright hot. the cord off the dryer going into the outlet isn't warm at all. I don't know if that points to the breaker or the partially shorted heating element.

You have either a bad connection at the breaker or a bad breaker. I would replace the breaker FOR SURE and be sure the connection is good and clean and tight.
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On Oct 24, 11:12 pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

pigtail the wire thats overheated, that is cut off the overheated wire to a location where its good, and use a wire nut to add a short section of wire to replace the bad overheated area.
I repair laminators for a living, they draw a lot of current and frequently develop overheated wires near a connection, puting that same wire under a new breaker will see the new breaker fail soon, because the wire is higher resistance and that causes it to heat, which will damage the new breaker
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One of the most important points is making sure the connection is clean, strong, and TIGHT. Aluminum wiring, especially, can loosen, which causes a resistance, causing the wire to get hot.
Here's a section about problems with aluminum wires: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum_wire#Problems_with_aluminum_wires
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On Fri, 26 Oct 2012 03:38:18 -0700, "David Kaye"

Nothing wrong with aluminum wire itself - just rquires more attention to detail and proper technique
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Except that it is so difficult to work with that a lot of fire insurers won't insure homes with aluminum wiring. You have to use special connectors in order to be sure that the aluminum connections don't work loose and cause a fire hazard.
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On Fri, 26 Oct 2012 11:47:00 -0700, "David Kaye"

The aluminum wire problem was caused by steel binding screws in regular 15 and 20 amp devices (regular switches and receptacles) There was never a problem in lugs like you usually find on breakers and range/dryer receptacles and the 8ga aluminum wire you will be using. Actually the "aluminum" problem was fixed with the introduction of the AA-8000 alloy and the CO/ALR devices that use a brass screw. That more closely matches the thermal expansion rate of aluminum so they don't loosen up. The fact is, you could wire a house tomorrow with aluminum wire and it would be totally NEC compliant as long as you used the new materials. A lot of hype has come up around this and most of it is not true.
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On 10/26/2012 1:52 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I agree that steel screws were a big problem.

And I agree that the problem was with 15 and 20 amp circuits.

One aluminum problem is higher expansion rate of aluminum causing extruding of wire in a connection, resulting in successively looser connection. You have written that the new alloy wire is harder and not likely to extrude.
Another problem is the thin insulating oxide that very rapidly forms on the aluminum surface. That is still a problem with the new alloy. You can wind up with a small contact area. In some tests the oxide prevented wire-to-wire contact in wire nuts. The contact was through the spring in the wire nut, which was not intended to be a conductor. With high current, a few turns of the spring can get red hot causing failure of the wire nut and connection. The fix is to abrade the wire to remove the oxide and apply antioxide paste.
The best connections appear to be http://www.kinginnovation.com/products/electrical-products/alumiconn / (can't remember - you may have first posted these)
A rather small percentage of houses that have aluminum have the new alloy. You can still have problems with CO/ALR devices and old technology wire. Or even the new technology wire.

But there were fires. And connection failures at a much higher rate than copper.
The CPSC funded extensive testing of aluminum connections, which found enough problems that the CPSC appears to have been headed for a recall, which would have been enormously expensive. In the inevitable court case wiring was ruled to not be a consumer product and thus not under the purview of the CPSC.
The professional engineer who did the tests for the CPSC has recommendations at http://www.kinginnovation.com/pdfs/ReducingFire070706.pdf
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wrote:

I think all the houses that were going to burn down, already did. Workmanship seems to have been a major factor. A lot of the problems trace back to homeowner work. There are still millions of houses out there with the original aluminum and they are doing fine (my ex is in one and the house across the street is another). I did a cursory inspection of the house across the street from me when they were renovating and I really could not find anything that looked like it got hot. I still advised that they get rid of as much aluminum as they could but the "flipper" said it was too expensive.
I agree the best fix in the Copalum retrofit or the Alumiconn but if I still lived in an aluminum house I think I would just go with CO/ALR devices and the goo. Replace all the wirenuts with Alumicons or Ideal 65s if box fill is a problem.
I have also never seen an evaluation of the spec grade devices with the clamp plate. I bet they would work fine.
This is really being driven by insurance companies these days. Citizens, the company of last resort here, will not insure an aluminum house. It is hard to find any other company that will write windstrorm so a lot of people are stuck. I am curious how the guy across the street will make out. Any decent home inspector will freak when he sees the aluminum.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

You put your ex in a house that will burn down?
Good move, dude.
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wrote:

Her choice, I wanted to sell the dump.
The reality is, there has been no problem with the wire since 1971
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On 10/27/2012 9:32 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I see no reason to think that is true. Likely the rate is far lower than around the time aluminum was being installed.

Certainly can be.
As I remember, the extensive testing (many thousands of aluminum connections) done for the CPSC showed connections made following the manufacturer's instructions can also fail.

According to the information linked to, based on the research for the CPSC, critical in connections is not just antioxide paste, but abrading the wire to remove the oxide layer. CO/ALR, goo, and abrading can be a good plan.
The new alloy aluminum wire is just as vulnerable to oxide as the old wire. And the new alloy is not better than the old in wire nuts. It is better under binding screws, where extrusion can occur.
Last instructions I saw for Ilsco lugs said to brush aluminum wire and use antioxide. A utility lineman said for the midspan splices on solid aluminum the instruction was to brush the wire and use antioxide.

The recommendations linked to has a lot of information on the Ideal 65 wirenuts. They are not necessarily better than other wirenuts except they have antioxide paste in them. As with other connections you have to abrade the wire for a reliable connection. I would ratner not use Ideal 65. The author would rather use 3M Scotchlocks (which are not UL listed for aluminum).

That would be real interesting to look at. I think larger aluminum wire has few problems because the connection methods, like an allen screw tightening into the side of the wire in a lug, deform the wire and break the insulating oxide surface layer. The Alumicon does the same thing. I wouldn't think a side plate connection would. Or the clamp on 15/20A SquareD QO breakers. And certainly not the binding screws on receptacles and switches.

I would like to see actuarial information from insurance companies on aluminum wire. I am not convinced there is a basis for not insuring. aluminum wire. It gives them a way of not insuring houses 50 years old.

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wrote:

The number of aluminum house fires compared to copper has dropped to the point of insignificance and most never had any remediation.

I see a lot of line work here in Florida where corrosion is worse than just about anywhere in the country., I never see them use goo on the 1350 alloy wire. The compression sleeve should create a metal to metal gas tight connection where there is no opportunity for corrosion. The sleeves are 1350 too. On a drop, the goo will be gone in a month anyway. Actually the same is true about the connection in a screw binding terminal, as long as the expansion of the screw matches the conductor. The contact should be gas tight The problem was the difference of steel and the 1350 alloy that the first wire used. I have been in a couple of seminars about this with engineers discussing the original failure problems. I think lawyers have more to do with the antioxidant "recommendation" than any real engineering data. (I know of no instructions that say "shall" or "must" use)

Bear in mind CPSC is a political operation, U/L is a pure testing lab. When U/L lists something, I tend to trust them a lot more than some political hack that may be guided by campaign contributions as much as anything else. I feel the same way about classified breakers. When I look at the failure pictures I usually see 3 or more wires in the nut and it makes me wonder what the mix was, how they are joined and that sort of thing. If you have been in the business very long, you have seen plenty of burned up wirenuts with all copper installations. There are also plenty of terminal failures. That is why we put things in boxes.

I think it is just more of the knee jerk reaction. The insurance company tried to cancel me over a pool slide that was 29" tall.
http://gfretwell.com/electrical/slide_of_death.jpg
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I quit trusting UL after nearly getting kiled by a machine I repair for a living. the machine has a key lock carring line voltage in in a all plastic cover.
one customer reported the key lock was hard to turn, i happened to be touching the machines frame with one hand while attempting to turn the key.:( I will never ever do that again! 120 volts hand to hand isnt good
next thing i knew i was across the room looking up at the cieling. people came running apparently i screamed...
I called and reported it to UL, the lock should have a ground wire to the machines frame. they werent interested..... the units even today lack a ground for the electric key lock. the manufacturer was informed to but never did anything.......
I also found a machine where the manufacturer fused the neutral side of the power line, UL had inspected the new model and passed the model, fact is I was at the manufacturers plant the same day UL was doing their review, I got to see the new model while the UL reps went to lunch.
UL may try but they are far from perfect:(
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wrote:

CSA is a LOT more stringent - but if something has NOT been approved by UL there is likely a pretty good case for not using it - since they allow some pretty obvious dangerous defects to pass.
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On Sun, 28 Oct 2012 18:15:26 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

U/L is basically just testing for the spread of fire
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On 10/28/2012 11:18 PM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

>>

If it is not UL listed for a particular purpose it likely means the manufacturer did not want to spend the money to get it listed for that purpose (like Scotchlocks with aluminum).

True for something like a TV.
For most of the devices we talk about, fuses, circuit breakers, switches, receptacles, etc - UL tests include that the device provides a reasonable function and service life.
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On Mon, 29 Oct 2012 01:18:19 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

U/L - Underwriters Labs = insurance issues.
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On 10/28/2012 11:17 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The lineman had 2 kinds of midspan splices. One was what you talk about, a sleeve that was compressed onto the wire. The process deforms the wire which breaks the oxide layer. As I understand it, the splice isn't just gas tight, the wire and sleeve are cold-welded together.
The other splice is a sleeve and you just poke the wires into the ends - kinda like a chineese finger torture tube.

I haven't seen "goo" disappear on, for instance, service panel lugs. A major part of the recommendation is to abrade the wire to remove oxide. I never heard that binding screws were a gas tight connection, but if it is gas tight with oxide between the sides the gas tight doesn't help much.

The recommendations I linked to are from a professional engineer who ran testing of many thousands of aluminum connections by an independent lab. He also tested additional copper connections for reference.
I don't remember that instructions for anything say "shall" or "must". IMHO if the installation instructions say to wire brush the wire and use antioxidant it is a UL requirement.

In the linked paper there is a picture of a failing wirenut. Looks like 2 aluminum wires A couple turns of the wirenut spring are red hot. The spring is not intended to carry the current.

Aluminum connections are just more likely to fail. I have heard a number (?like 7x) but I don't remember what it is.
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