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What Happened to My Hairdryer? - An Electrical Question

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Apr 1st, 2015, 04:43 AM
  #1
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What Happened to My Hairdryer? - An Electrical Question

I have this blow dryer I bought when we lived in Berlin almost 30 years ago. The label states it is 220 - 240, and I've used hundreds of times, all over including Africa, China, as well as the UK. I always have it because some hotel dryers are pretty pathetic.

I couldn't find the hotel dryer in my room so I decided to use my own; I plugged it in but had not turned it on at all... Then I noticed some minutes later that it was smoking... a burning smell and smoke coming from it even though it had not been turned on. Yikes.

Any thoughts on what happened? I know it's old so it had to give up the ghost at some point but it was pretty scary for something like that to happen when it wasn't even on.

Does anyone have a theory about what went wrong? I probably will just toss it...
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Apr 1st, 2015, 05:50 AM
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It has ceased to be. It is an ex hairdryer and has joined the choir invisible.

After 30 years, buy a new one.
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Apr 1st, 2015, 08:57 AM
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I had a couple of tiny dual-voltage hair dryers. They both expired around 30-35 year mark. Unfortunately I have yet to find a replacement that's equally small (and doesn't have that stupid big plug attached).
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Apr 1st, 2015, 09:38 AM
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Hair dryers don't last forever, any more than anything with a motor does. It's just that simple.

I had a vacuum cleaner that lasted about 30 years and then the motor burnt out, also.
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Apr 1st, 2015, 09:51 AM
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Yes -- they do eventually die. But I think your question is more how that could happen if it wasn't turned on? Perhaps there was a power surge of some sort. Or -- is it one of those w/ 2 switches one for temperature and one for the fan? Maybe one was in the ON position.
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Apr 1st, 2015, 10:45 AM
  #6
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Yes, janisj, that was the question. It was OFF and it just started smoking/burning all on its own. I normally don't go off leaving things plugged in, but what if I had? It was pretty scary. I suppose a power surge could be the answer, but we're at St. Ermin's and it looks recently refurbished, so I would think the electrical was up to snuff.

I don't want to buy one here b/c of those huge plugs; maybe I'll live dangerously and stop carrying one with me.
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Apr 1st, 2015, 10:55 AM
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I haven't traveled with a hairdryer in probably 20 years. All hotels have them even B&B's . Occasionally a small B&B will just have one available for the use of all guests, but I've never had a problem when requesting one. It certainly lightens your luggage load and frees up a bit of space.
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Apr 1st, 2015, 10:58 AM
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A faulty switch on your dryer? Those small rocker switches have limited life, esp when used at 230V. Each time you use it, it sends spark (arcing) which over time can lead to melting of contacts and electrical leak.
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Apr 1st, 2015, 04:55 PM
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Was the plug in the bathroom 110? We see those in European hotels sometimes.
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Apr 2nd, 2015, 01:30 AM
  #10
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"Those small rocker switches..." Yes, it has those. Very unnerving.

I didn't use the 110 plug in the bathroom since the dryer is, oops was, 220-240.
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Apr 2nd, 2015, 02:19 AM
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All switches arc; it is just that rockers tend to have a more exposed gap around the switch so you can see the spark and of course in the 110V position they are pulling double the amps which makes more heat (does more damage to the switch).
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