If your dryer breaks down
Here’s the first thing to
know: You can solve most
dryer troubles yourself.
There’s no need to find a
technician, schedule a service call or pay
hundreds dollars for repairs.
The fixes we show in this article correct
about 90 percent of dryer breakdowns. Most
repairs take about an hour, but set aside
extra time to locate replacement parts.
To find parts, check the yellow
pages or search online
for “appliance parts.” Most parts are relatively inexpensive. Aside from basic
tools like a socket
set and screwdrivers,
need a continuity
tester or multimeter
to diagnose the
Tip: The first step in
repair is to make
sure it’s getting
breakers are a
leading cause of
Most dryer repairs require some
disassembly of the outer cabinet
so you can get at the parts inside. If
your dryer’s lint filter is inside the
front door (Figure A), disassemble it
this way: First, remove the screws at
each corner of the
Flip the panel up
and back to
screws in the top
the screws, then
pull the top
toward you and
lift it off. To open
the bottom panel,
release the spring
catches by shoving a putty knife into
the slot just above them. With the
bottom panel open, you can remove
the front panel by removing two
screws at the top and
two at the bottom.
If your filter slides
into the top of the
dryer, remove the
screws alongside the
filter slot. Using a putty knife, release the two spring catches
located under the top panel at the front. Tilt the top panel
up like a car hood and remove the screws that hold the front
panel in place.
Figure A: Disassembling a dryer
Figure A: Disassembling a Dryer
Dryer disassembly is slightly different depending on where the lint filter is located, but either way most repairs to gas dryers require that you remove the top and front (not the back or sides) to access the parts.
Don’t get shocked! Unplug the dryer
before you do any disassembly, diagnostic
or repair work. On a gas dryer, also
turn off the gas supply shutoff valve.
Dryer won’t start
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Door switches can wear out, causing the dryer to stop working.
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Test the switch
Pull the wires off the door switch. Open and close the door
while testing for continuity. If you don’t get continuity, replace
If your dryer seems absolutely dead when you turn it
on, chances are the door switch is bad or the plunger is
broken or bent. Door switches wear out from normal
use, but repeatedly slamming the door can speed up
their demise. Start by checking the plunger located on
the door. If it’s missing or bent, replace it. If the plunger
checks out, the next step is to remove the top cabinet
panel to gain access to the door switch. See the disassembly instructions.
Test the switch for continuity. If the switch is good, test the thermal fuse (see “No heat” below) mounted on the blower housing. If you have a gas dryer
with the lint filter in the door, access the thermal fuse
by opening the bottom panel. If the filter slides into the
top of the machine, remove the entire front panel. On an
electric dryer, remove the rear service panel. If you
don’t get a continuity reading from the thermal fuse, do
NOT simply replace it. A blown thermal fuse is a warning
that you have other serious problems—either a malfunctioning
thermostat or a clogged vent. Fix those before replacing the fuse.
Dryer thumps, rumbles or chirps
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Replace drum support rollers
Clip off the old triangular roller keeper and remove the roller.
Wipe the shaft with a rag and alcohol and install the new
roller and keeper. Do NOT lubricate the shaft.
The drum support rollers are worn. Replace all of them. If the noise continues, replace the
tensioner roller (see below). Since it takes longer to disassemble
the machine than to actually replace the rollers
and belts, we recommend replacing both of them at the
Using a Continuity Tester
Our photos show using a multimeter to diagnose
trouble. But a continuity tester, which is much cheaper, will also work for all
the troubleshooting in this article. To use a continuity
tester, simply attach the clamp to one contact point and
touch the probe to the other. If the light glows, you’ve got
continuity. If not, you’ve got trouble.
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The heat won’t come on if any of these parts are broken.
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Photo 1: Check continuity
On a gas dryer, test the radiant sensor, igniter and thermal
fuse by disconnecting the wires and checking for
continuity. Replace them if they fail the continuity test.
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Photo 2: Check the heating element
Disconnect the wires to the heating element of an electric
dryer and test it for continuity. Replace the element if
you don’t get a continuity reading.
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Photo 3: Replacing the heating element
Replace the bad heating element on an electric dryer by
unscrewing the retaining clip at the top of the heater box.
Then pull out the box and remove the element retaining screw.
Swap the elements and reinstall.
If you have an electric or gas dryer that tumbles but won’t
heat, check the thermal fuse for continuity. If the thermal
fuse checks out, move on to the radiant sensor if you
have a gas dryer. It monitors the igniter and powers up
the gas valve coils when the
igniter reaches peak temperature.
A bum sensor will
stop the whole show. Test it
for continuity (Photo 1) and
replace it if it fails. If
the sensor is good, disconnect
the electrical connector
to the igniter and check
it for continuity. Again,
replace it if it fails the continuity
test. If both the
radiant sensor and the
igniter pass the test, replace
the gas valve coils. To replace them,
remove the retaining plate,
unplug the sensors and pull
them off the gas valve.
If the thermal fuse on
your electric dryer checks
out, test the heater element
for continuity. Replace the
element if you don’t
get continuity (Photos 2 and 3).
Drum won’t rotate, but the motor runs
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Replace the belt
Route the new belt around the drum
and toward the motor/tensioner
assembly. Reach your hands around
the motor and retract the tensioner
so you can wrap the belt around the
You’re in luck—it’s only a broken
belt. Remove the front
cabinet panel and lift the entire
drum out of the cabinet. Now’s
the time to fire up your shop vacuum
and suck out all the lint.
Then spin the tensioner roller by
hand to see if it runs smoothly
and examine it for cracks.
Replace the tensioner if it
fails either test. Reinstall the
drum and wrap the new belt
around it (ribs facing the drum).
Some tensioners are mounted
behind the motor, so they’re difficult
to see from the front access
panel. You’ll have to do this by
feel. Reach your hands around
the blower housing and lift the
tensioner up while you route the
belt around the motor pulley.