Electric Dryer Won’t Heat Up: Solve In 4 Simple Steps

by Darwin Hall

back of electric clothes dryer

So last week, our electric dryer stopped drying clothes.  The drum inside spins, so I know it’s not a problem with the unit getting power.

I told “my significant other” that we’ll just buy a clothes line and hang our stuff in the backyard.  She wasn’t having it!

I decided to find out what was wrong, seeing that I’m handy and all.  I began by trouble-shooting.

Step 1

The first thing to do is take off the back panel of the electric dryer.  To access it, disconnect the power plug from the outlet and slowly slide the dryer forward.

Your unit may have a clamp that holds the dryer duct on.  Or, it might have sheet metal screws holding it on to the back.  Whichever the case, disconnect the duct and set it aside.

Turn the dryer completely around to make it easy to access the screws.  Most panels have about 6-8 screws to remove.

See also:  How To Install A New Laundry Tub And Faucet

A power drill makes the process go much faster.  I use a small socket bit that will accommodate different sizes — in this case, a 6.5 mm socket.  The screws are not very long at all, usually ½-inch long.  Before removing the screws, I place the dryer cord up on the top of the dryer, out of the way.

back of electric dryer 2

back of dryer components

I start removing screws at the bottom going up on both sides of the panel.  Then I remove the top screws, also removing the plate that covers the power cord connections in back.

Slide the back panel up, out of the bottom slot, and out of the way.

Step 2

You’ll need a multi-meter for this step to check for continuity.  If you don’t own a multimeter, you can buy one at the local home store in the electrical department.  Get a simple battery-powered analog model.

Analog Multimeter

They cost around 10 dollars.  Continuity means are two things electrically connected.  So if two electronic parts are connected with a wire, they are continuous.  You’ll want to make sure power goes in and returns to the source.

The first job is to test the thermal fuse and high-limit thermostat that is connected to the heating element assembly.  The thermal fuse is at the top and the high-limit thermostat is on the bottom of the right side in the back of the dryer.

If you remove this part from the unit, you’ll see the heating element, which is comprised of several rows of metal coils.  If there is a break in the coil anywhere, the dryer won’t heat.  This could be a simple fix, because you can visually inspection them to confirm or deny if the coils are intact continuously.

Make sure the dryer is unplugged from the wall.  Turn the dial on the multimeter to resistance mode.  Resistance is measured in ohms, indicated by the symbol that resembles an upside-down horse shoe.  Use the lowest setting.  On the multimeter I am using, the lowest setting is “X10”.

Test continuity by crossing the red and black probes with each other.  The dial should go to the right, to around “10”, indicated by the green scale on the multimeter.

Step 3

Now remove the connectors from the thermal fuse by simply pulling them off.  Test the fuse for continuity.  If it is good, put the wire connectors back on.  If it does not test good, remove it from it’s housing and find a replacement.

thermal fuse on electric dryer

Next, test the high-limit thermostat.  Remove the small, orange wire that is connected, and the two, thicker purple wires.  Note which wire goes to what.

Touch one end of the probe (it doesn’t matter which one) to the connector that held the orange wire in place, and the other probe to one of the two other metal connectors.  If one part of this test registers continuity and the other does not, the heating element assembly is bad.

high-limit thermostat

dryer heating element assembly

break in dryer heating element coil

The break that caused heat loss is in the above picture.  Can you find it?

Remove it by unscrewing the two sheet metal screws that are holding it in place.  Then visually inspect it.  A bad heating assembly has a coil with a break in it.  That is the case of my dryer.  I almost missed the break in the coil!  Nevertheless, rely on your multimeter test because a lot of times the break in the coil is hard to see.

I turned the heating element assembly upside down and found the model number.  It was stamped into the housing. Next, I searched and found the part online and order it.  The easiest way to do a search is type the model number right into the address bar of your browser.  Luckily, the part I needed was at a local business that had it in stock.  I paid for it online and picked it up from the store.

dryer heat assembly model number

Also note that you will need to remove the old high-limit thermostat from the old heating element assembly to install it in the new assembly.

Step 4

While the back panel of the dryer is off, now would be a good time to inspect the lint trap tunnel and blower wheel that are located on the left side of the dryer.  But first, test the other thermal fuse and cycling thermostat for continuity.  The other fuse is plastic-looking, with two blue wires running to it.  The cycling thermostat is right beneath it.

lint trap tunnel electric dryer

dryer lint duct removed

internal part of dryer blower

Remove all wire connections and test as usual.  If everything is fine, remove the tunnel from the dryer by loosening it’s sheet metal screws.  Remove the lint trap and there will be two long screws holding tunnel at the top of the dryer — don’t forget to remove them.

Inspect the tunnel at the bottom (near the blower) and remove any lint and debris that got trapped there.  Once cleaned, re-install the tunnel, access panel, and duct.  Then plug the unit in and test for proper operation.

Dotted Line Post Separator

Related Articles

Share Button

Previous post:

Next post: