What Size Breaker Would You Use on a Washing Machine Circuit?

Electrical code calls for a dedicated 20-amp breaker for the laundry room. This circuit provides sufficient power for the washer and a gas dryer. The code allows more than one outlet on the laundry circuit, but it requires all the outlets to be in the same room. If the laundry room has a sink, any outlets within 6 feet of it must include ground-fault circuit interrupter protection.

The electrical code also specifies use of 12-3 wiring for a 20-amp breaker. This wire includes two 12-gauge wires with insulation and a bare 12-gauge ground wire in a single cable. The insulated wires provide the hot and neutral feeds.

In laundry rooms where an electric dryer is in use, the code specifies a dedicated 240-volt circuit. The back panel of the dryer specifies the size of breaker it requires, but most use a 30-amp breaker. The 30-amp breaker requires 10-gauge wires. The dryer cable should have four wires, including the dedicated ground wire.

The circuit breaker provides protection for the home by monitoring the flow of electricity passing through it. Under normal circumstances, electricity flows unhindered through the breaker. However, if there is an overload due to a short in the line or appliance, the circuit breaker trips, interrupting the flow to prevent overheating and a potential fire.