Electric Clothes Drier Repair Heats Things Up


[How To Lou] sure has shown us how to do quite a few things. This time he’s dealing with an electric clothes dryer that won’t heat. We’ve been elbow deep in our own appliances and we think [Lou’s] matter-of-fact demonstration will help you gain the confidence to investigate problems before deciding if it’s a job to be relegated to the repair man.

This picture shows the back side of a clothes dryer after having a protective panel removed. Just out of frame is a functional schematic which lists each part and it’s resistance measurement. Lou has labelled those parts in this image to help us understand what we’re looking at. In the video after the break he begins doing the same troubleshooting that a repair would use. He grabbed his multimeter and used it to test the resistance of each component after removing the wires from it. All of them should read zero Ohms except for the heater coil which the schematic rates at 7.8-11.8 Ohms. The high limit thermostat is loose and measures an infinite resistance. This, coupled with the charred wire on one side is the culprit. As with that ice maker repair from yesterday, [Lou] searches for the numbers on the part to find the replacement he needs.


33 thoughts on “Electric Clothes Drier Repair Heats Things Up

  1. Worked in a laundromat/dry-cleaner growing up — pretty standard repairs, basically. Repairing stuff equipped with elector-mechanical timers and contact switches is pretty easy. Even today, I don’t buy anything other than Maytag A-series washers and dryers (getting pretty rare, though, in light of all the new computer-aided garbage around these days).

    However, one hack that I’ve seen done (not saying I did it, not say I didn’t do it) that might be worth mentioning here is repairing a broken dryer heater element with a stove-bolt and washers. Providing that it didn’t short against the frame, the coil would hold together long enough for a replacement to be delivered.

    1. It isn’t, but opening something up and learning how it works is fundamental to hacking.
      And knowing how to repair it yourself is also hacking (The System).

      Also, sometimes dryers have a moisture sensor in the exhaust to detect if the clothes are dry, but usually it is a thermoswitch. The logic behind this is: if there is no more moisture in the clothes to absorb heat, the exhaust temperature will rise. The moisture sensors of old were plagued by failures caused by fabric softener fumes.

    2. Yea, it’s great that someone fixed their dryer and posted info to help people. However, I don’t see why this is on HAD. If this is what HAD is now for, I’ll just attach a camera to my head everyday at work. Watch out! – you might fall asleep watching it.

  2. I’ve had this same thing happen to a dryer at a place I used to rent. I ended up glueing the charred high-temperature sensor back together with JB Weld. That stuff worked a treat and held up to the heat and vibrations for at least as long as I still lived there. And for the record, I was careful on fixing the sensor so it still functioned and the house didn’t burn down!

  3. By the way have any of you ever opened up a gas dryer? That thing is literally an flame in a tube with a blower. Its kind of scary with all the lint and crap that floats around a laundry room. Made me more diligent about cleaning up in there after I had to fix a bad thermostat.

    1. No kidding… in a laundromat if you didn’t clean lint out of every corner you were just asking for a long-smoldering lint fire that nothing short of halon would put out completely. My dad’s policy was, whenever we had a lint fire, to rip out 3 dryers (the fired one, plus the ones next to it) take them outside, and hose them down (that was before we found out that the local FD could take a fiber IR endoscope and poke around all the nooks/crannies for us without having to disassemble everything.).

    2. You should clean out your dryer at least once ever 2 years if not every year. It’s easy to do and the fire department doesn’t have to get involved. For electric dryers the thermal cutoff/ high limit thermostats fail many times due to lint build up both inside your machine’s venting and the venting that runs from the back of your machine to the outside of your house. For gas dryers it’s usually a thermal fuse that goes out. If you keep your dryer clean it will save you money in parts.

  4. I repair driers as well as other white goods for a living. Number one thing to check if your drier doesn’t heat are the thermal fuses, if there is no continuity through them they’ve popped. Fix them by pressing some blue tac on the shiny side and pulling it off quickly.

      1. That is for the non-resetable type of thermal limit switch. Resetable ones have a little button that pushes the bimetal diaphragm back out to reset it. The non-resetable ones leave the little plunger out. Using the bluetak allows you to reset it by pulling the bimetal from the other side, It is not like the thermostat is ruined by tripping, it just needs to be reset after the problem that caused it is fixed.

        1. Thank you for playing “Completely missing the point”. It should have been replaced, it failed for a reason, it’s normally automatically resetting anyway and what ever caused it not to is a problem, f00 is very lucky that he didn’t burn down his house, that doesn’t make it a valid repair tactic.

  5. Another thing you might have to do for dryer repair is replace the motor. When my motor was ending its life, it was making a lot of noise. Took me a long time, but I was finally able to get the dryer apart, remove the motor (carefully so clips aren’t broken), and proceed to find one online by part number. New motor came and everything worked fine. I believe I saved myself a couple hundred bucks in labor if I had to call for service (without a service plan). Now I appreciate my dryer more than ever!

    1. Did you know there’s a safety switch for the heater in the motor? It won’t even try to bring the element on unless that motor spins up, fortunately this guy had an easy repair and may have saved himself $100 by doing it himself, He did several things I would never do as an appliance tech, but that’s because I do this stuff all the time.

  6. As a repair tech, I have a few issues with the way he went around making the repair, first, make sure it’s getting both legs of the 220v required to operate the heater element. that has saved me oh so much time in the diagnosis department.

    second, Get a proper crimping tool! that won’t last, and BTW.

    Third, and everyone take note of this, when you replace that lower high limit, you really need to replace the upper one as well, they come in a kit. don’t take chances, if the lower one is failing, the upper one probably isn’t too far off itself. this is especially true for the maytags prior to 2007 were the instructions actually tell you to do just that. this is a whirlpool true enough but do you think they sell them in pares just to boost their proffit margin? ok, maybe they do a little, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the part just the same. I won’t sell just the one part myself, even if they beg me too. it’s do it right or stop pestering me.

    1. Thanks for sharing pro experience. I will take it back apart and crimp that new connector, as you suggest. I did not get an upper/lower pair, but if it goes out again, I will definitely replace both. I did this video to provide instruction. I knew the problem as soon as I opened it up, but took the long way, on purpose, to help others. Good point. I should have included a 220v test at the outlet.

      1. You Sir, are a gentleman, I have made comments about the quality of your work with one hand and lauded your ethics of sharing with the other, and you take the time to acknowledge my concerns and take serious note of them. I tip my hat to you. I could have said what I had to say better than i did, but this is the internet and manners are hard to come by, my parents raised me better and I will be better knowing that people like you will be listening.

        If you do replace the crimped terminal and you are dealing with a copper wire and not a copper terminal, you might want to add noox (no ox) to it to make a better connection.

        BTW I visited your web site, love the vid on trapping the moles with out killing them

        1. Don’t sweat it one bit. You are a pro and I am a jack-of-all/master-of-none. I understand it can be frustrating, seeing someone do a less than perfect job on something you can do in your sleep. Your comments were gentle compared to what the brick layers posted after my “How To Build a Brick Fireplace – Part 2” video. I always appreciate good advice, given in any tone.

  7. I just did that repair last week on my daughter’s dryer. Hers was a bad upper limit switch. Was able to dx it by simply jumping across with a screwdriver (insulated of course), without taking the entire machine apart. TIP: Check eBay for appliance parts! The upper limit switch alone was $30 some places, and the advice on the appliance repair sites was to replace upper, lower and thermal as a group.

    I don’t know what all that would have cost at a ‘parts’ outlet, but I found the whole set on eBay for less than $10, including shipping. Those were new, branded, packaged parts exactly like the originals. It’s not the first time I’ve saved over 90% on various appliance and small-motor parts from eBay BIN deals.

    Finally, be aware that almost ANY common repair has likely been published somewhere on the web. ALWAYS google any fault that you’re contemplating tackling yourself, beforehand. If a problem has been experienced, it’s been photographed or video’d (or at least described) and published on the web. We live in an amazing age…..

    1. That is not always true, and that is what got me started making how-to videos, actually. I wanted to build a fireplace/grill in my backyard, five years ago. I figured there would be some brick laying tutorials on youtube, but none existed, so I learned the hard way and then made a video for everyone else. The web is what we make it.

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