Tip & How-To about Dryers

Electric Dryer Do It Yourself

Any brand name dryer with these names attached may be considered a Whirlpool Product since all the parts are made by the same company.
Some of these apply to Clothes Dryers, and others To AC units and other major appliances..

Admiral (Canada)
Maytag EpicĀ®
Speed Queen (Canada)
Sub Zero (undercounter ice makers)

Any of the name brands mentioned above will have the same or similar construction and parts as their Whirlpool counterpart, and these models will be what I address with this Tip. Depending on the model of Dryer you have you will find an array of cool little gadgets located in the heating section of your dryer. These gadgets are not named in a language you and I speak in daily conversation, but contain words such as breaker, limit switch, thermostat, overload sensor, and various other names that will have no meaning to the normal home owner.

What I will attempt to do is show you the no nonsense approach to fixing your own dryer with as little hassle as possible.

Lets start with the humble door switch.
This switch has been the culprit of many dead dryer issues for years for good reason. When I was young, most dryers had a flip down door, that at my tender age looked like a great place to sit while playing in the wash room. Unfortunately though, sitting on this door eventually bent it out and it wouldn't close tight enough to trip the door safety switch.

This ended up putting my Dad on the floor with a handful of tools trying to make it work. When he discovered, as I sat down on the open lid, what the problem was he simply sent me from the washroom and banned me from playing there, then promptly bent the door back. At which time the dryer began humming merrily along as if nothing had happened.

This is just one example of how easy it is to disable a dryer, without actually killing it. Another way is by bending their flexible vent pipe and blocking air flow from the back of the machine. I have actually had service calls that were repaired by simply unsticking their dryer flap on the outdoor exhaust port. Sometimes these have been blocked by a mower, planter or other object.

Some visits have been something as simple as a blocked lint screen.
Other things that cause a dryer to fail can be necklaces, money, rings, hair pins, Ballpoint pens, and the worst of all, underwire bra supports. These really wreak havoc on the Fan and Squirrel cage, and must be removed to prevent motor failure, overheat and eventually the motor fuse dies.

Another common cause of Clothes Dryer failure is excess lint buildup in the exhaust pipes, and any homeowner can clear this up easily with a
clean toilet brush and a bit of elbow grease.

The real surprise in all of this is that Belts seldom fail when a dryer is used on a daily basis. Fortunately though, the bag they come in provides a diagram showing you how to install it yourself.

So far we have covered some preventative techniques and some of them may have already given you a clue about what needs fixing. Others may have more in depth problems that none of these techniques address.

Either way, the situations presented above indicate what you should do before attempting to service your own Dryer.

The Electronic Thingamajigs

These little button like objects located around the back side of your dryer all serve a purpose and should never be shorted together just to make the dryer work. If they died or failed, then they did their Job and saved you from a possible shock or even a house fire. Of course, you can't actually SEE these gadgets until you take the back dryer panel off.

CAUTION! Unplug your Dryer before proceeding to this section!

Lets do that now and have a look around.

If you have a model listed at the beginning of this article, you should see 2 large chimney like squarish silver tubes attached to the back of your machine. To the left you have the exhaust tube and to the right you have the heater box. Mixed in with all of that are the little buttons and wires I mentioned earlier. These should never be jumped or bypassed for safety reasons as mentioned earlier.

For this step you will need a multimeter (multitester)
Analog or digital will do fine since you aren't actually trying to get any specific readings. All you will be looking for is the same result you get by touching those 2 little pointy things together, continuity.

To use this multimeter you will need to set the dial to OHM.

After selecting OHM you will be removing each set of wires from the device you are testing. Some have 4 wires, so remember that the wires you need to remove are the ones facing the exact opposite sides of the device you are testing. Replace the wires if you get a reading from the multimeter.

Some of these sensors and thermostats will make the numbers on a digital multimeter increase the longer you hold them there, while others will simply give a reading that is close to or the same as you get by touching the multimeter leads together.

What you are looking for though, is the device which makes nothing happen. The numbers don't move or on the analog multimeter the needle remains where it is.

When you get one of these, you need to remove it from the machine and try testing it just one more time to be sure you didn't make a mistake.
If all went well, and the device is indeed dead, you can safely assume that this is the part, or one of the parts that has died. Continue testing until you have covered every wire connecting to every device on the back of the dryer. Mark every place that you have removed a part from with the little number stamped on the component you have removed. This will save you from having to remember which part went where, when you reassemble.

One thing you need to test thoroughly is the heating element.
Remember that this is in the square chimney tube to your right as you face the back of the machine. Disconnect the wires leading to the coil and rather than testing the blade shaped connectors themselves, you will need to lightly sand a small bare patch on the actual coil itself and test it for breaks.

The coil is removed either by 2 screws on each side of the box, or on earlier models a hole directly above the heater box which leads to a single screw. You will need a long screw driver to reach this. After releasing this screw, you will need to lift the heater box up, then out.

Replace any dead items you find then move to the next step.

Now we will remove the back cover to the fan and exhaust tube.
Have a shop vac ready to **** out the dirt you will find there.
You will see several screws holding the exhaust tube in place at the bottom of the tube itself and on top of the dryer under or near the lint screen. Remove all of these screws and lift the tube out by tipping the dryer forward so that the exhaust tube slides out easily.

Now you will see a strange looking fan which resembles a hamsters treadmill. Beneath this fan inside the exhaust tube is where we want to go. This area is not easy to get to, but it must be scraped out and cleaned of all debris. This is also where you will most likely find one of the causes of your problem, whatever that may be.

After everything is cleaned and reassembled, and all parts have been replaced, you can do a test run with your dryer to verify that it has been fixed.

We will not go past this point since this article is intended for the most basic and rudimentary repair, and should fix most common dryer failures.

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Bob S.

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