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machinc, Electrical Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 934
Experience:  AC/DCElectricity / Relay and apparatus/circuit reading/ 30 yrs Bell South
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We recently had hardwood floors installed. The installer used

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We recently had hardwood floors installed. The installer used our 220V dryer outlet for one of his tools. Since then, anytime we run the dryer, a horrific stench fills many parts of the house. We just discovered that the source of this smell is the dryer outlet - apparently it got overloaded by the installer's tools? Anyway, I set out to replace the outlet and found that there are two strands of wire coming into the electrical box. One has two very thick (low gauge) wires plus a ground wire. The other has 4 wires (red, white, black, ground) that are gauged similar to what you'd see in a typical 110V outlet. I have no idea why both strands are coming into the box, but it appears both were in use because each has 1 wire with noticeable singing/scorching on it (as does the old outlet where those wires connected).

So, some questions:

* why would I have 2 wire strands coming into this box? Is this an attempt to get 4-wire? The outlet itself is of the 3-wire variety, so I'm not sure what to make of this or how to rewire a new outlet.

* Should I be worried about the scorched wiring? Do I need to do more than just replace the outlet (i.e. might there be problems in the walls?)?

Thanks in advance!
Turn off power to the outlet.
Photograph so you will know where the wires go.
Before you take anything apart seer if something
Near by is not working.
If this is the case someone may have
wired the 220 as a feed..

Remove all the wires . Mark with tape and a
marker if you think this is necessary.
After you remove the plug check its contacts.
If they are discolored and scorched you need
to replace the receptacle.
Check the wires . If they are not brittle then they
should be ok to reuse.
Check this out then you can figure out the extra wires.
and if the circuit they are feeding is important enough
to reconnect.


I will check back to see how things are progressing.
I would not use the dryer until this situation
is resolved.
The receptacle could be getting hot. if you have
determined if the extra wires are feeding a 110v
You will need to isolate them from the dryer circuit
and find another way to feed them.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Unfortunately the act of pulling the outlet out of the box caused some wires to disconnect, so I don't have any certain idea how they were wired initially. It's clear which wires connected to the scorched part of the outlet as they are scorched too, but beyond that, nothing is certain.


In addition, I have not been able to find anything else nearby that doesn't work. The outlet for the washing machine is the only other outlet in the laundry room, and it is still functional.


It sounds like you're saying there's no common reason to have additional wires coming into the dryer outlet. That is, I shouldn't have anything more than the strand of three heavy gauge wires. Is that right?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Here are some pictures, in case that helps.



That is correct . The dryer circuit is supposed to be a dedicated circuit . The outlet looks like it was really hot.I would replace it with a new one Leave the other wires disconnected and find out what itclear the ends and cap them with wire nuts. Machinc
The dryer outlet wires red on
One side black on the other and ground
or white in the middle .
Donor connect the smaller wires.
Clear the ends and cap with wire nuts.
If your wires aren't red and black it would
wire 110 v each side ground in the middle .

Please get back time if the red white and black
wires are not the feed .
Do not use the black insulated aluminum
wires with out calling an electrician to come check them

It is my guess the red white and black are going to be the

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The smaller wires are red, white, black, and ground (no insulation wrap - just straight copper). The larger wires appear to be aluminum - 2 are black and the 3rd has no insulation (ground wire).


I have an electrician coming later today to check things out as I'm feeling a bit risk averse and unsure about what is going on with the wiring here. I know it's generally a bad idea to connect copper and aluminum, but that is apparently how this was wired when I bought the place (this is not the only example of strange/amateur work in this place).


Is it safe to run a 220V 50Amp outlet on the smaller gauge wires? I would have expected such an outlet to require the heavier gauge (like my aluminum wiring).

The aluminum wires are larger because they are
not equivalent to copper.
Aluminum has to be larger than copper to carry the same load.
. I'm glad the electrician
is coming. Have him look at anything you are suspicious

machinc and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

For completeness, I'll document here the final resolution of this issue. An electrician came by and we identified a 220V outlet in the garage that was the reason for the smaller gauge wiring in the box (the red/white/black/ground strand). The to this outlet was done improperly and we have no need for this additional outlet, so I just decided to cut these wires off and I'll eventually remove the garage outlet altogether. With that out of the way, it was very easy to hookup a new outlet using the remaining, heavy gauge aluminum wires. Case closed.

I will be glad to answer any other
questions you may have.