Dryer stopped working - DIY?

My dryer (clothes) went kaput last night. I checked the outlet and it works fine but the drier just won’t start. I Googled and found 3 possibilities that could be (relatively) easy fixes – door switch, start switch or thermostat. I don’t think it’s the thermal fuse because the info online says it that goes the dryer will start, it just won’t get hot.

Any other advice? I’d rather not have to wait a week and pay $100 to get it back up and running.

Some dryers have an automatic shutoff if the lint filter gets too full.

Dryer designs vary. Mine has two thermal fuses in it. One will just stop it from making heat, and if it blows it means the thermostat is dead too. The other is an overall over-temp fuse and if it blows then the entire dryer won’t start. The second one is the one that will blow if your exhaust vent gets clogged up and overheats, which is a common type of problem.

What’s your electrical skills? This type of problem is fairly easy to fix if you know a bit about electricity. If you don’t know anything about electricity, about the worst you can do is kill yourself and burn your house down.

Really?! This sounds very plausible.
Any idea where I would look for this? And can I simple clear the lint out of the way to resolve the problem or is there more to it?


I’ve tinkered a bit - I know when I’m in over my head. Plus my wife’s an EE so she’ll be there the whole time looking over my shoulder telling me I’m doing it all wrong :smiley:

If you take off the back panels of the dryer, there will usually be (somewhere) an electrical diagram of the dryer. Sometimes it is taped or glued to one of the panels. Sometimes they just stick it inside the top part of the dryer. This diagram will show you what fuses you have. With a little luck it even shows the wire colors, which helps you identify parts if you are a little unsure. (Note - unplug the dryer before removing the panels)

Once you have identified the thermal fuse, remove it from the dryer and test it with a multimeter. If it still conducts electricity, it’s good. If it no longer conducts electricity, it’s shot and you need to buy a new one.

ETA: You also need to clean out the dryer’s vents and such to make sure it doesn’t just overheat and blow the fuse again.

Well, we don’t know the OP lives in a house. He could live in an apartment complex, in which case the worst case goes up substantially.

Take a look at this:

(Note - your dryer may vary quite a bit from that)

The thermal fuse in my dryer looks like this, but again, yours may vary:

A different type, for example:

Also, if it is the thermal fuse, look on the diagram. If it is in series with the thermostat, it means that the thermostat stopped regulating the temperature which is what caused the dryer to overheat. This means that the thermostat is broke too.

If it’s not in series with the thermostat, and your dryer happens to have another thermal fuse in series with the thermostat, then it probably just means the dryer overheated and you only need to replace the fuse.

I live in a house BTW.

Thanks for the links engineer_comp_geek!
I’m going to print out this thread and the linked info and take a look tonight.
Wish me luck…

for those not familiar with electrical servicing and safety the above suggestions should be done with the dryer unplugged.

There’s no big honkin’ capacitors in those things I need to worry about are there?

Generally, no. Possibly one on the motor to smooth out startup surges, but not really a big one.

I think that even the fancy new dryers with the computerized controls still don’t have any big capacitors – small ones on circuit boards, but nothing big.

WAIT! Are you saying you don’t know where the lint trap is? That is a problem.

Or is the nomenclature different? I have never heard it called a lint filter, I have always heard it called a lint trap.

Regardless, not cleaning a lint trap for 3 months may result in clothes melting and your landlord giving you the stink eye telling you how much a new one will cost if it can’t be fixed.

If this is the case, you may have tripped some type of fuse/overload.

Up to a point, the older it is, the more likely, and easier you will be able to fix it. Prior to the 90’s or so, appliance manufacturers took the term “durable goods” pretty seriously. If it is a Whirlpool dryer (which includes Sears Kenmore and a lot of other store brands) You can probably buy every single part except the main cabinet and the drum in-stock in any bigish city, at a fairly reasonable price.

About two years ago the timer in our 70’s (it’s harvest gold, doncha know) washer finally got to where I couldn’t repair it again like I did the last two times, and because it was a “deluxe” model I had to order off the internet for about $100,and spent a couple hours replacing it.
I’d like a washer that uses less water, but this one keeps on chugging at an average parts cost of something like $10-15/year and less than an hour of my labor. I can buy a lot of water for the difference between that and a $1000+ low water use washer.

I know where the trap is - I was wondering where the cutoff would be incase it’s some kind of sensor that would need to be cleaned.

Gotcha. It’s sad to say but I know this from experience.

It was the door switch - $20 and 1/2 hour to fix.
I know you were all just dying to find out :smiley:

I was kinda curious how you were getting along with it. Good job!

Thanks for the help!