Repair or replace?
When a dryer motor goes bad, the loud grinding, rumbling from the worn-out bearings makes it seem like the dryer’s going to blow up any second. It won’t, but fairly soon after the noise starts it will stop dead in its tracks when the bearings seize. If you think the repair cost compares favorably with the cost of a new dryer, you might be right to hire a pro. But if you have basic mechanical skills and aren’t afraid to dig in, buck up and deal with it yourself. You can replace a dryer motor in a morning and be back in business cheap. You can buy a genuine factory motor for about $150 or an aftermarket motor for as little as $60 (depending on the make and model).
Since you have to remove the drum to get to the motor, you may as well replace the belt, idler and drum rollers at the same time. That’ll add about $35 to the cost. But in the end, your dryer could last more years than you spent raising your kids.
The motor and blower wheel on our dryer were located at the back of the machine. But they may be near the front on other models. However, the motor replacement procedure is similar for both. You’ll need nut drivers or sockets, screwdrivers, a shop vacuum, slip-joint pliers and two large adjustable wrenches.
Our appliance expert, Costas Stavrou, showed us how to replace a motor on a typical Whirlpool electric dryer. He showed us how to avoid damaging the blower wheel and how to remove the motor without special tools.
Figure A: Dryer Parts
This cutaway drawing shows the location of the drive belt and motor in a typical electric dryer.
Pop the top and remove the front panel and drum
Photo 1: Remove the drum
Pop the lid and remove the front panel. Then disconnect the drive belt from the motor and lift the drum out the front of the machine.
Unplug the dryer (and shut off the gas valve if you have a gas model). Then slide a putty knife between the front and the top panels to depress the latches located near the corners. Lift the top panel up and support it in the open position. Then disconnect the electrical connector to the door switch. Remove the screws that hold the front panel and pop it off. Disconnect the drive belt from the motor and lift out the drum (Photo 1). For more info on removing the top and front panels and the drum, see Clothes Dryer Repair Guide.
Remove the blower wheel and swap in the new motor
Photo 2: Clamp the blower wheel
Rotate the adjustable wrench clockwise until it wedges against a drum roller or the side of the cabinet. Grab the flats on the other end of the motor shaft and turn it clockwise too. Don’t grab the belt pulley—it’ll break.
Photo 3: Release the motor clamps
Grab the bent tang on the motor clamp with slip-joint pliers. Then jam a flat-blade screwdriver between the clamp and the plier jaws and pry the clamp outward until it pops off. Repeat on the opposite end.
Photo 4: Connect the blower wheel
Tilt the threaded portion of the motor shaft down to mate it to the blower wheel. Then spin the shaft counterclockwise until it’s snug. Hold the blower wheel with the adjustable wrench and tighten by turning the opposite end with a pump pliers.
Pay attention here: The blower wheel is screwed to the motor shaft with left-hand threads. To remove it, hold the wheel while you turn the motor clockwise—the opposite of what you’d normally do. Hold the blower wheel by sliding an adjustable wrench over the flats on the neck where it meets the motor shaft. Tighten the wrench jaws so they fit snugly. Then grab the other end of the shaft with a pump pliers and turn it to break it loose (Photo 2). Once you break it loose, spin the motor shaft clockwise with your hand until the blower wheel is loose. Then remove the motor clamps using the technique shown in Photo 3. Disconnect the electrical connector and lift out the old motor.
Slide the new motor into place and screw on the blower wheel (Photo 4). Then set the motor into the motor mount and install the clamps. Hook one end of the clamp to the base and force the other end over the catch using a flat-blade screwdriver.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- Nut driver
- Shop vacuum
- Slip joint pliers
- Socket/ratchet set
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Drum rollers
- Dryer belt
- Dryer motor