I finally decided to get an air conditioner for the main room of my apartment. There is a single circuit outlet next to the window with a 6-20R which accepts either 6-15P or 6-20P, so natually I assumed it is 240v/20A. So after the hassle of finding an affordable 240v air conditioner, waiting for delivery and then waiting for installation (since I’m not comfortable hanging 140 pounds out of a fifth floor window by myself), the installer plugs it in and only the fan works and that only on low. He declares it DOA and tells me to call the store to schedule a replacement install.
However, I get to thinking that perhaps I should have not assumed 240v. Out comes the multimeter, and sure enough I’m only getting 125v across the two hots. (125v from one hot to neutral, and 0 from the other hot to neutral.)
The building has incredibly old subpanels and there’s no double-pole breakers, however there are two breakers off by themselves. One of these breakers does handle the 125v I’m getting on that outlet - the other doesn’t handle anything currently; that is, turning it off doesn’t turn anything else off.
Next, I think that perhaps the wire was loose in the outlet, so I turned off both breakers and removed the outlet. There are only two wires to the outlet, black and white. This gets me thinking, as I didn’t think it possible to have only two wires provide 240v, I thought you needed at least 2 hots and a common neutral.
Anyway, I’m still trying to get in touch with the super, but I’d like some thoughts as to what the problem might be and how best to solve it. All I can come up with is… A) a problem with the breakers, or B) the previous tennents had no clue what they were doing and put a 6-20R on a 120v line.
A problem with the breakers would be ideal, because the building would have to fix it, and I’d be cool again. If this line is indeed only 120v, I don’t think rewiring is an option, so I’m stuck with an air conditioner I can’t use nor return, and (while I’d like to say it’s entirely the prinicple of the thing) is a good chunk of money I don’t want to throw away.