My dryer is broken

Actually, it’s not mine but in the house I rent. The landlord has said that the dryer is a luxury and therefore he is not responsible for it.

So if we (myself and roommates) want to have a dryer we have to have it fixed (or fix it) ourselves.

The problem is that there is no heat. It seems to work otherwise (ie the clothes get tossed around for as long as the time you set the dial to) but the dryer remains cold. This is not a particularly effective way of drying clothes.

So my question is: does anybody have any idea what the problem is and how much it would cost to fix? I’m sure there are a number of possibilities, but could you give me a best case/worst case scenario? I would just like to not get ripped off.

Thank you in advance

Gas or electric?

If gas, could be a number of things, ranging in price from $50 to $350 to have a repairman fix. The electric ignition or the flame sensor for the pilot (if it has one, most don’t), the direct ignition mechanism for the burner if there is no pilot (this is most gas dryers), the flame sensor for the main burner (unlike furnaces and water heaters the flame sensor is usually not a thermocouple, but rather a filled system sensor), or the main gas valve. Unless you’re pretty good with tools and have some familiarity with gas burners and ignition systems, get yourself a professional to fix it.

If electric, check the circuit breaker. (It’ll be a double wide 240 volt breaker). Flip it off and back on. I’ve seen a few 240 breakers partially trip, cutting one side of the 240, but leaving the other side live. Depending on which pole the dryer motor and control system (which are 120 volt) are tapped off of, it may still run, but the heating element won’t get hot. There’s only a slim chance this will help, but it costs nothing to try and only takes a second.

Other possibilities include the high temp limit switch, the motor rotation switch, the temperature selector switch, etc. However the most likely possibility is the heating element itself. These are not usually very expensive ($30 to $50 bucks or so the last time I bought one).

If you’re handy with tools, and know a little about troubleshooting electrical circuits, electric dryers aren’t too bad to fix it yourself, they’re basically giant toasters with a motor and timer. But be very careful.

Heating elements aren’t too bad to replace, but be prepared to pull the drum out the dryer. The rest of the stuff can usually be replaced without tearing apart the entire dryer.


RJKUgly pretty much nailed it for you.

One thing I would add is that on the chance that you have fuses and not circuit breakers the dryer should be on a separate box with 2 fuses. If one of those fuses is blown it would cause the exact problem you are experiencing. (Happened to me at the old rental.)

One other thing Moe…What does your lease say about the dryer? Was it part of the rental agreement. Did he advertise it as a rental with a Washer AND Dryer?

If the above suggestions for simple fixes (blown fuses, etc.) don’t work, go to a garage sale and buy a cheap but functional dryer. Store the broken one in the back yard with a tarp over it, or in any other convenient location. When you move out, take the working dryer with you, put the broken dryer back, and let the landlord know that the dryer is out of order and that you will inform any new tenants of this.

That way he can’t avoid disclosing to the tenants that the dryer is broken, at which point people will say “Why don’t you fix it?” If you live somewhere other than Silicon Valley or a similarly crazy place, he’ll have to fix the dryer.

Not that that helps you…

You might want to check the vent pipes, too. Sometimes the lint builds up in the cheap vents and clogs them. This restricts the air flow and causes the heaters to shut off on high temp. Cleanning and straightening the cheap vents, and making sure the silly flap thingys that open when air is flowing is really opening can fix this problem on both gas and electric dryers.

Thanks guys. Ugly wonderful info! I’ll check the circuit breaker when I get home. I’m actually not sure whether it’s gas or electric.

Sled I checked the lease thoroughly yesterday and there’s nothing in it at all about the landlord’s responsibilty towards the washing machine or dryer. When I went to look at the house he did, however, point out to me that there was a washer and dryer in the house which I am welcome to use, but he of course failed to mention that dryer was broken. While he ain’t going to win any nice guy awards any time soon I don’t think I have the legal ground to stand on.

Oh and Doug, in reading the lease I noticed it said many times throughout that “the tenant agrees to leave the place exactly as he/she found it” and other words to that effect, and I was filled with visions of removing whatever part of the dryer we pay to replace. Is that petty and spiteful? I’ll probably open that question up in IMHO before I move out, but if you can disquise an opinion in a GQ related post here, I’d love to hear it.

BTW Don where are the vent pipes? How do I get to them?

It’ll be a metal/foil pipe snaking out from the back or top of the unit and connecting to the wall. The hose clamps are easily removed with a screw driver and you can examine the duct (and the exhaust port where it connects to the unit) for lint buildup. I have one of those space saving types with the dryer on top and the back cover comes off revealing all working parts. It’s just about the easiest thing I have ever had to fix (had to replace the belt once & the pulley a few months after that).

I doubt that blockage is your problem, the dryer would still be getting hot but due to lack of air flow the clothes just wouldn’t dry very well. At some point, heat buildup may trip a thermal breaker but things would still be hot up until that point. The heating coil is likely open, which (on my model, at least) sits right under the service panel and takes 10 minutes to replace.

Most dryers have a 4 inch diameter vent coming out the back of them to carry away moist air and, if gas fired, the combustion by-products. Dryers don’t have drains, and the water has to go somewhere, so the air carries it out through these vent pipes and outside the house through a little flap thingy. Electric dryers could just vent the hot moist air into the house, but without some sort of air dryer this would be annoying. I don’t know if anyone does that or not.

Do you pay the electric and gas bills, or does the landlord? If it is the landlord, and it is an electric dryer, then he might have disabled the heating elements because they were (a) expensive, and/or (b) an older house might not have the proper wiring to handle the load. Electric dryers really suck up the juice, and in general would need a sizable circuit-breaker (a tandem 20 or better, IIRC). If (b), he might have put it in in the thought that the convienience would attract renters, and then learned that he would have to upgrade the houses electrical system to make it actually work, in which case it would be uneconomical.

If the house’s wiring can’t handle it, then there are work arounds, but they are kinda complex and involve extension cords and getting a lot of info from the dryer’s nameplate, the house’s electrical panel, and the nameplate’s of the other major loads in the house (like the heating system or the oven. It also means running the dryer while you are there and at least one other big amp load is off. Find out whether it is gas or electric before you do anything else.

If the landlord pointed out to you that there is a dryer there, he has (obviously) implied that there’s a working dryer. That suggests that it’s his responsibility.

Depending where you live, there may be a landlord-and-tenant law in effect, and possibly some sort of office to handle disputes. It might be worthwhile to check it out.

And let us know what the problem actually is when/if you fix the dryer.

First thing I try with anything that works with electricity is to unplug from wall for at least one minute & plug back in. This gets lots of things working again.

anyway the dryer thing happened to us recently. we’re not really all that competent but we figured we could fix it. after 5 weeks of taking apart the dryer and putting it back together it wound up being electrical. the fuse box had worn out and had to be replaced.

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I think Handy works on consumer electronics (or used to). In that world, lots of things that have microprocessors can be burped by resetting the processor. Sometimes this is as simple as unplugging the device, but not always. I doubt this would work for your dryer unless it’s the one in laundry room #4ß on deck 17 of the Starship Voyager (one of those super advance intelligent models that uses microprocessors to control the servos & heating elements).

burped ? Is that what they call it Opus? Interesting.

Yeah, I still do a lot of electronics. Lots of times people ask me to look at their stuff as its not doing so & so. So, they bring it over, I plug it in, viola! It works fine. I just tell them that if it works fine, i can’t fix it. Of course, the machine was burped by being unplugged.
But I think that Moe should have told us more. I would have said something like, “Maytag 1995 dryer model #445762, electrical, 220 volts” because there is A LOT of information on dryers on the net if you know the model & brand. also libraries are chock full of books on them & what to do.

Our old GE dryer was electric. It had two heating elements and one was continually burning out. I think it got hot sagged and shorted. I never could get the hang of putting just enough stretch on it when I stretched it into place.
It also had a way to use the thing as 110 volt. The circuit only used the other half of the 220 for high heat.When we first got the thing I wired it for 110volts and we used it that way until I wired a 220 volt outlet.
If it is possible take it to the repair shop yourself. You’ll save some bucks but have to put up with the pain of moving it.
IIRC the elements were about $15.00.


None of this matters now. My roommates went ahead and had the thing fixed before I could show them this thread. In case you are curious, it was some burnt out wire and totalled 63$ which will be split 4 ways.

Thank you all anyway.

I just wanted to say thanks to RJKUgly for this helpful hint. This exact thing just happened to me and I remembered this. Resetting the circuit breaker did the trick.

My dryer stopped working a couple of years ago. I pulled it away from the vent and there was a friggin possum in the vent pipe. It had climbed (slid, fallen?), hit the fan and broken it so that it wouldn’t turn. Ever since then, if an appliance is on the fritz, I check for possums. I would suggest everyone do this, as it could save you a great deal of time and money on service calls.

If you took the place on the condition that there was a dryer in the home, and signed the lease to that effect, he is responsible.
Take him to Judge Judy! :wink: