Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dryer, Part 2: Wiring

A friend of mine was throwing out a dryer from a place that he rents out.  I helped him load it on his truck, and I asked him if he was going to try to scrap it.  He told me that he hopes someone just steals it off his truck so he doesn't even have to bother taking it to the scrap yard (if you've ever been to a scrap yard, you'll know why he said that).   He told me that the dryer actually works, but the old tenant before she moved out said that it didn't really spin at the full speed.  He told me its probably an easy fix, so I decided to move it onto my truck.  I figure, worst case scenario, I don't feel like fixing it and then I just leave it in front of my house with a curb alert for the scrappers.

I bring it home in probably May of 2014.  I start doing the venting and wiring December of 2014.  As you can see, I move pretty quickly.

Now, I really would rather have a gas dryer because they are much cheaper to operate and much more efficient at what they do.   However, I don't really like messing with the gas line, and the place where I would have to run a new line is under a basement window which makes the approach for the line kind of weird.  I don't know all the rules for gas lines, but I don't see them coming in low in below-grade basements.  I figure the top down approach is the generally accepted method, which makes my situation basically impossible for gas.

Anyway, before I start any wiring, I still need to finish this vent!

Working with ducts can be annoying, but most of the time its pretty satisfying.  I've grown to like it over the last year or so.  I think what sucks mostly about ducting, is the actual ducting; but rather, ducting through impossible small places or really disgusting crawl spaces.

As mentioned in the previous post, I had to run this duct through a pretty small space below the joists, but above the electric service.
Protrusion through the exterior wall --- sneaking past water pipe, service cable, and electric meter
Not bad for an 18" hole through brick right?  Because I was just using a hammer and pry bar to slam through the bricks, the inside had some serious blow out.  But it doesn't really matter. Just spray foam it and call it a day... for that part of the project.

The pictures don't really do this ducting job any justice, but I'm proud of myself for completing a pretty tough job.  I really had to ace this one.

Sneaking past the washer, under the electric panel and under a shelf that I built the same day.  I figured I already had the hammer drill out.
Duct terminating at dryer


Unfortunately, I don't have any action shots of me running the wires for the the dryer.  The code says that anything in a basement below the joists should be in conduit.  I through about doing conduit, but the cost effectiveness of me buying a conduit bender vs. using flexible conduit and running single wires inside it made it a no brainer.   So I measured out what I would need in 10AWG THHN wire and ran this through the flexible conduit. Then I wired in a new 4-prong electric dryer receptacle at the point of service, in a standard 4" metal box. At the panel, I added a new 30Amp double-pole breaker.  

Double pole breaker

Receptacle. Appliance already plugged in

I'm not entirely sure how the appliance consumes two phase power, but its something I was thinking about as I did the task.  I asked two other electricians to explain to me two and three phase power, and I didn't get any answers that didn't include the definition inside the explanation.

Occupy: How does two phase power actually work?
Electrician: Its two phase power because it works off of phase A and phase B at the panel.

I seriously got that exact same answer from two entirely different people with entirely different backgrounds in electrical work.

For some reason, new dryers require you to wire your own power cord onto the appliance.  I don't know why this is done.  Do people really hardwire dryers right to the panel? Is that even legal?  Sounds like something Smokey the Bear would strongly advise against.  Honestly, I think its just a ploy to get us to spend another $25 on this pieces of junk.

Here it is, in all its glory. 

I'm actually more proud of this.  Looks real professional, right?

If you look in the above picture, you can see another flexible conduit that come out of the panel and turns left.  I took the time while doing this little project to wire a dedicated receptacle for the washing machine as well.  It was on a temporary circuit for a few years that also includes the built-in lights.  So when the washer changes tasks (like from spin to rinse) it would make the lights flicker.  I found it annoying so I gave it its own outlet.
Also makes for a good ipod charger.  There aren't any person-height receptacles in the basement.. until I began occupying.

So, the dryer seems to work fine.  It looks like it spins slow, but it still did the task... not very well, but the clothes got dry... eventually.  Its a small dryer (24"), which is all I can fit down my stairs without taking one apart and reassembling it.  Thus, the small drum makes the clothing get cramped pretty fast. Obviously, this impedes its ability to dry.  And, because of the cramped quarters in the drum, its doesn't really solve the wrinkle problem at all.  I guess I'm just doomed to look like a raisin my entire life.


I am the guitar guy, looking dejected and playing the dryer blues.

I will say, I had a very proud moment when I turned that thing on and I ran outside and felt the hot air blasting out of the front of the house through the duct.  I honestly think it might have been the best moment I have had in renovating this house.  It felt like a true victory.


UPDATE: Victory is fleeting-- about three weeks into our twentieth century bliss (aka having dry clothes), the dryer started making some very disturbing noises and started to smell like burning plastic.  The clothes get hot, but I think the blower motor is fried because I can't feel any hot air blowing out the vent to the outside.  Supporting this hypothesis is the evidence of moisture on the glass when I run the thing (the hot water vapor has nowhere to escape, so it begins re-condensing inside the dryer.. however that is possible).

What is the end result? I have had the dryer in the basement laying on its side and in a bunch of pieces for about two months now.  This job site is like a casino: the house always wins.

House: 1... thousand
Me: 0

But hey, I have a sweet vent and a nice receptacle.  That counts for something, right?

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