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How to Fix and Troubleshoot a Clothes Dryer

Updated on November 22, 2012

Dryers last a long time. Even those made in the 80's are still working. They are fairly easy to repair and diagnose, so as long as you are willing to take it apart, which is not hard, most can repair a dryer. The critical issue is the cost of the parts cost effective rather than buying a new one for $200-300. Dryers have the same problems: not hot enough, too hot, no heat, loud noise when drying, or the tumbler does not spin around.

Dryers all have similar parts: two thermostats, a high and low; a motor to spin the tumbler, a rubber pulley that goes around the tumbler, two wheels to stabilize the tumbler, and a heating element. All heating problems are caused by failed thermostats or heating elements. A noisy tumbler when the dryer is turned on that is LOUD, are mostly because the one or both of the wheels that support the tumbler (where you put your clothes) is worn out and needs replacing. If the dryer does not work at all, the pulley may have broken or the motor is bad.

Testing is easy with a digital meter. Set the ohm dial to the lowest ohm setting on your meter. when testing thermostats, the reading should be 0. If the readout does not change from before you place the test rods on the wire connectors, the item is bad. For the heating element, the readout should be between 0-50 ohms. If higher, replace the heating element (which is easy).

Testing is the same for all items. 1. Disconnect any attached wires to the item; 2) Set the meter to lowest ohm setting on the meter, usually 10, 200; 3) Using the test prongs, touch one to the wire connector and then the other test prong to the other connector.

If the rubber pulley is broken, it is wrapped around the round tumber and threaded in an "S" like manner around the idle pulley and the motor. If you need to replace the motor, expect the part to be $75-100. Thermostats run from $15-30 and heating elements run from $20-50. Most heating elements are in a metal casing and removed easily. Clogged air hoses can cause premature failure of thermostats.

Parts for even dryers made in the 80's are still easily found because dryer design has remained rather static over time and a few manufacturers make several brands (for instance, Whirlpool also makes Kenmore, and uses the same parts). Most dryers are only held together by screws or bolts and snaps.

Fix it yourself and avoid paying $75 for a service call. They will do exactly the same thing.


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is good to know. It seems easy enough to follow, but will have to pass it on to my hubby for the actual job. Saving $75 dollars is a good amount!