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Understand Your Washing Machine Circuit

This is part two of the video series “Understanding Your Home’s Electrical System”. In this series I focus on every individual circuit within the home, starting at the main distribution panel and following that circuit to the end device(s) and outlets that are on that particular circuit. I discuss the breaker size and type, the amperage rating, voltage, number of poles, wire size and type. We open up each outlet to inspect the connections, see if we have any potential problems, and repair anything that I feel might need to be corrected. Part One of the series examined the Main Breaker Panel.

Part Two of the Series: Examining the Washing Machine Circuit

In the following video I examine the circuit that feeds the washing machine. It is a standard 20A circuit breaker, 120V, single pole breaker. The cable used is a #12 (AWG), two-conductor NMD-90 cable (standard Romex or Loomex), run from the panel through the wood-framed structure to the laundry area/rear entry of the home.

Potential Issues

Upon opening up this outlet, which is a 15-20A/125V simplex T-slot receptacle, I find a few issues that could, under the right circumstance, present a problem. It’s something that I’ve observed on a few different outlets throughout our home over the past few years.

The terminations made on the white neutral (silver), and the ground (green) terminals are made incorrectly. Not that they didn’t connect the wires to the correct terminals, but it is how the connection was made. The wire is wrapped around the terminal screw in a counter-clockwise direction, and then tightened down. As you can clearly see in the video, the copper conductor is pushed out and way from the screw terminal instead of pulled in and around the screw as it would be if it was in a clockwise direction.

I also discovered a nick in the copper wire on the neutral. This creates a weak point in the wire, and if manipulated or bent back and forth a few times, the wire can easily break off. This demonstrates the need to be very careful when stripping the insulation from the wire.

I’m sure I will find more potential issues as we move through the various circuits throughout the home. I did not do the wiring on this house, so this is a great exercise to expose and mitigate any potential issues for me in the future, and is a great practical learning tool for you the viewer!

Have you experienced any issues with the washing machine circuit in your home? Feel free to share your experiences, thoughts or questions below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel. By subscribing, you will be the first to know when a new video in this series is ready for viewing, as well as any other video content uploaded to the channel and to the website.

Terry Peterman, The Internet Electrician®

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The Basics of Household Wiring DVD

"If you're looking for a good reference to help you understand simple home wiring, I personally recommend 'The Basics of Household Wiring' DVD".

Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician
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