How to Repair An Electric Clothes Dryer

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The most common problem exhibited by an electric clothes dryer is that it runs, but doesn't dry the clothing. Not drying the clothing is due to an absence of heat, which, in turn, is normally due to a failed heating element. This procedure will show you how to change the heating element.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric dryer not heating or drying the clothing
  • Screwdriver or other tool to open the dryer and/or to remove the element
  • Possibly an electric meter
  • If an electric dryer runs fine without heating and without drying the load of clothes, the problem is most likely a failed heating element. To determine the existence of a failed element, unplug the dryer from the outlet.

  • There are many, many kinds of electric dryers, so it is impossible to state an exact procedure for opening your dryer to expose the motor and heating element. But it must be done to test the heating element. There may be a procedure in your owners manual. Or you may be able to download a troubleshooting guide from the Internet for your model. At any rate, open the bottom of the dryer. You will see an assortment of electrical and mechanical components. What you want to concentrate on is the heating element. I've included some photos of different types of elements so you can recognize yours.

  • The next step is to carefully remove the heating element from the dryer. Normally this is quite simple. There is an electrical connection to unplug and there may be screws holding the heating element in place.

  • After removing the device check the coils for breaks. These coils are like an oversized version of a light bulb. They heat when current is applied. The heat will eventually cause a break in the coil, like a bulb whose filament has broken. Sometimes a break in the coil is obvious. Sometimes you should check the coil with your electric meter. Set the meter to measure resistance or OHMS. Place the meter leads at both ends of the coil. If the OHMS measured are infinite then the meter is indicating an open circuit and a sure break in the coil. If the unit measures a finite amount of resistance, then the heating element is in working condition and the repair is beyond the scope of this procedure.

  • Assuming the heating element or coil is broken, copy the make and model of your dryer and obtain a replacement part. These can easily be obtained from local parts suppliers, the Internet and even on eBay. Just make sure it's an exact replacement part.

  • Once you obtain the replacement part, just reverse the steps of the procedure and install the new heating element. Be sure the new element is going to work by testing it with your meter. The new part should not indicate an open circuit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Searching the internet and eBay for the replacement part will ensure the best price. I've seen elements for as low as $19.95 on eBay. They are usually twice that and more in a parts store.
  • Make sure the dryer is unplugged before digging around inside of it. 220 volt circuits carry quite a kick.

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