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Do It Yourself Dryer Repair Made Easy: Electric Dryer will run but no Heat: Element, Thermostat?

Updated on October 23, 2010

Dryer Won't Heat: Easy Problems to Fix

See how to identify my Kenmore appliance. Please follow all safety procedures.  There are several problems that can cause a dryer to not heat. There are basically two kinds of problems easy ones to fix and more difficult ones to fix. Let's look at the easy ones first. These are the 'I can be a hero in 5 minutes or less' problems:

Can you believe it, the dryer may not be getting the power it needs. You say, "It can't be the power, the dryer is running." Think about this: a motor takes 110 volt current to operate, the heating element takes 220 volts to operate. Believe me the dryer can run but not heat when half of the circuit breaker is popped. Check the breaker and reset it. See if this restores power to the heating element. Also, Check the Power Cord connections they must be tight and clean.

Timer, Power

Power Cord Connector
Power Cord Connector

Make the Easy Repairs

The dryer timer control may be set to a no heat part of the cycle, like fluff, wrinkle guard, or cool down. Set the timer to 30 minutes on the timed cycle and see if that restores the heat.

The heat selector switch may be set for a no heat setting. Select High Heat and see if that restores the heat.

Inside of dryer Back

Inside Backs
Inside Backs

Thermal Cut Off, Element, Thermostats

Thermal CutOff
Thermal CutOff
Element Connections
Element Connections
Hi Limit Thermostat
Hi Limit Thermostat
General view from back
General view from back
Thermostat and Fuse
Thermostat and Fuse

Dryer Won't Heat: Medium Difficulty

"Be a Hero in 30 Minutes"

Ok, these problems are the most common but they are a little harder to get to and work on, but they are completely Do It Yourself repairs and I will hold your hand until you reach that Hero status.

Disconnect the Power, disconnect the vent hose. Lay the dryer on its front using a large towel or blanket to protect the front from scratches. I like to work on the dryer in this position because everything is handy. See Tools.
Remove the back. Set it aside.

There are 5 potential problems lurking under the back cover. Here they are with the most likely problem first:

  • Most Likely: Thermal Cutout and Hi Limit Thermostat. This little bugger is located on the heating element enclosure. Looking at the back of the dryer on the right is the heating element enclosure. This is a metal enclosure capable of withstanding high heat. On the enclosure on the left side about 15 inches from the bottom is a flat plate with a disk in the center. The disk has 2 heavy wires attached to it. Test this for continuity. If there is no continuity, it is bad replace it.
  • Also very Likely: Heater Element located inside the heater element enclosure. The two bottom wires are generally attached to the element. There are two configurations, one has the wires going directly to the element. Just above the element connections is a high limit thermostat, and it has two wires going to it.  Carefully choose the correct element. There are three types:  1/2 the Enclosure with spade connectors, Full Enclosure with Spade Connectors, Full Enclosure with Female cylinder  plug Conncectors.  The 1/2 is the newest type and will be found on newer dryers of this style.  The cylinder connectors are the oldest and most likely not the one you want.   The most common one is the full with spade connectors.
  • The other configuration has the element connected to the high limit stat and two heavy wires go to the element on one side and the thermostat on the other. Test the element for continuity. No continuity, the element is bad.
  • Here's a twist that happens sometimes: the element is broken inside the enclosure but when it broke it fell on the inside of the enclosure and now makes contact with the enclosure. Check for continuity between the element terminals and the enclosure. If you have continuity in this case the element is bad. Replace it.
  • Moderately likely to cause no heat: bad wire, burned connection, corroded connection. Locate the bad wire or connection (most likely to be found on the connection to the heating element).
  • Less Likely cause of no heat: Bad high limit thermostat. Locate the thermostat on the element enclosure. Test for continuity. No continuity, the thermostat is bad replace it.
  • Less Likely cause of no heat: Bad cycling thermostat. Locate the thermostat on the blower housing. Test for continuity. No continuity, the thermostat is bad replace it. Be sure to observe the thermostat for the number of wires. A thermostat with 4 wires has a heater built in or located under it. Also this dryer takes a L155 thermostat. That is, it is rated to cycle off at 155 degrees.
  • Complete the repair, replace the back, Plug in the are now officially a Hero!


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    Post Comment
    • cnstrongpower profile image


      7 years ago from yuyao

      may be it need more power cord

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      thank you...i'm going in...and i have a copy of your instructions...say a prayer for me...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Before call somebody check for proper venting. Clean filter and see if hot air going out from exhaust pipe.

    • profile image

      electricians swansea 

      8 years ago

      Great article, but if in doubt always contact a qualified electrician.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Thorough discussion about getting your dryer to run and produce heat! Thank you.


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