Fixing a Dryer That Is Not Heating

By Barry Solomon , last updated February 7, 2011

A clothes dryer is a simple design performing one function- drying clothes that are placed into it from the washer, but fixing one can be a real hassel. If you go through a cycle and find the clothes still wet and cool, then the dryer is not heating. Here you will learn the simple steps to repair a dryer that is not heating.

Dryers work quite simply. Clothes are loaded into a drum which is spun by a belt and pulleys. Air is pulled into the dryer through holes in the front or on top and then passes over a heating coil. The heat turns the water into steam which is then extracted through the exhaust vent. The dryer has a lint trap which captures the lint coming off the clothes, towels and bedding. This is a very simple and low maintenance system (usually all you have to be concerned with is cleaning the lint filter after each use) that lasts for many years without much attention or repair.

The dryer has a cycle controller which regulates both the time of drying and the level of heat being employed to turn the water to steam. There are sensors which measure the heat and will automatically shut the dryer if the heat gets too intense. So it is rare that a dryer will break down.

When the dryer stops heating, several things can be at fault. First check the fuse. If the fuse has a break simply replace it with a new identical fuse and your dryer will start heating again. Another problem can be the temperature switch. No matter where it is set, the machine may be reading the coolest setting. You need a voltage meter to test the integrity of the switch. Disconnect the two wires from the switch and connect them to the meter and then connect the meter to the switch. The meter should read either zero or infinity. When you move the switch to the opposite position, the meter should move to infinity or zero, whichever it didn't read at the beginning. If you get any other result, then the switch is bad and you need to replace it. Yet another possibility is that the thermostat is bad. Take the leads from the thermostat and connect them to the voltage meter. If the meter reads anything but zero, then the thermostat is bad and must be replaced. If all of these things check out well, then the heating coil is likely to have gone bad. Set the voltage meter ro RX1 and remove the leads from the coil and connect them to the voltage meter. If the reading is zero then the coil is bad and needs to be replaced. The last and most unlikely possibility is that the timer is bad. Set the voltage meter to RX100 and connect the leads. If the voltage meter reads infinity, then the timer is bad and needs to be replaced.

These are fairly easy repairs that most do-it-yourselfers are capable of performing. So buy or borrow a voltage meter and follow these simple steps and you will be able to repair a heating problem in your dryer.

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