Common Dryer Repairs You Can Do Yourself
Dryer not working? Don't despair. You might be able to fix it yourself.
Here’s the first thing to know about dryer repair: You can solve some common dryer troubles yourself. There’s no need to find a technician, schedule a service call or pay hundreds dollars for dryer repair.
The dryer repair 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. Aside from basic tools like a socket set and screwdrivers, you may need a continuity tester or multimeter to diagnose the problem.
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Unplug Your Dryer Before Repairing It
The first step in any appliance repair is to make sure it’s getting electricity. Unplugged cords and tripped breakers are a leading cause of appliance “breakdowns.”
How to Disassemble a Dryer
Most kinds of dryer repair require some disassembly of the outer cabinet so you can get at the parts inside and you might not even need a dryer repairman. Dryer disassembly is slightly different depending on where the lint filter is located. For gas dryers, most repairs require that you remove the top and front (not the back or sides) to access the parts.
If your dryer’s lint filter is inside the front door, disassemble it this way: First, remove the screws at each corner of the control panel. Flip the panel up and back to expose the screws in the top panel. Remove 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.
How to Fix a Dryer That Won’t Start
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 for dryer troubleshooting. If it’s missing or bent, replace it. If the plunger checks out, the next step of dryer troubleshooting 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 mounted on the blower housing. However, 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 continuing the dryer repair and replacing the fuse.
What to Do if Your Dryer Is Making Noises
If your dryer is making thumping or rumbling sounds, the most likely culprit is worn out drum support rollers. 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 same time.
Dryer Isn’t Heating
If you’re dryer isn’t drying clothes, the first thing to do is check the airflow from the dryer vent tube. It gets clogged with lint, preventing airflow and causing it to take a long time to dry clothes, if it’ll dry them at all. If that’s not it, there are a few other common fixes for a dryer that isn’t drying, everything from checking the breaker box to cleaning the lint filter.
However, there are other problems that could cause a dryer to tumble but not heat. If that’s the case, 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 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.
Dryer Doesn’t Rotate
It might be a broken belt. To replace the belt, remove the front cabinet panel and lift the entire drum out of the cabinet. Then, 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.
Dryer Door Won’t Stay Shut
If your dryer door won’t stay closed, chances are the latch is either bent or missing, or the strike is worn. The fix is cheap and easy. Buy the parts from any appliance parts store. Then grab pliers, a couple of small, straight-slot screwdrivers and a roll of masking tape.
Grab the bent or broken latch and yank it out. Then install the new one, pushing in firmly until the locking tabs seat. Next, protect the door’s finish with tape and remove the old strike. Jam a small screwdriver into the strike and bend the metal locking tab inward. Pry upward with a second screwdriver to pop it out (Photo 2). Snap in the new strike and you’re back in the laundry business.