Repairing a Dryer that Won’t Heat – How I saved myself $600

There is nothing I fear more then the thought of my washer or dryer dying suddenly, mounds of laundry piling up, and spending tons of money on a repair call. All of my major appliances came with my condo when I purchased in 2011, most of them from the mid 1990’s. They are all a beautiful bisque color and function pretty well.  I know at some point I’ll need to replace them with shiny white versions, but for now I hope to keep them working for a little while longer.

I have a fairly reliable Whirlpool stackable thin twin washer/dryer combo.  The only issues I’ve had with it have been when wiring comes loose.  A couple weeks ago I noticed that my dryer was tumbling, but not heating.  I had been running a lot of laundry the week before, so I figured I had overheated the dryer from the use.

I held back from calling a repairman, hoping that if I didn’t panic, I could possibly repair it myself.  I started with research,  using the very reliable Youtube to get an idea of what would be involved.

The repair process seemed fairly simple, I just needed to purchase a Voltmeter.  I went with a basic version, I have no plans to become an electrician, otherwise I may have invested more.

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Once my Voltmeter arrived, I then had to figure out how to actually get to the back panel of my dryer.  A common problem of the DIY’er that lives alone, I had something heavy to move all by myself.  Safety first, I cut the power to the washer/dryer from my fuse box and then also unplugged the unit.  I ended up doing a tilt and lift method, magically not injuring myself or the dryer.  The wall got a little banged up. This is as far as I could move it on my own.

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I promised myself that if I started to feel like I was causing any damage to the dryer and getting in over my head, I’d stop immediately. I’m still haunted by the time I tried to install my own faucets and ended up paying a plumber $700 to fix my install. Getting the top panel of the dryer off was pretty straight forward, just unscrewing and carefully lifting off to keep from scraping the paint.

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Once off, the back of the dryer had wires and access to the heating elements.

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At this point I referenced a Whirlpool troubleshooting guide that I found online. 

Repair Checklist

I went step by step checking each circuit and fuse with the Voltmeter.  If I didn’t get a reading with one measurement, I tried the others incase I had the setting wrong.  I got a number for every item except the Thermal Fuse, a tiny little piece about an inch long.

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After seeing that I could order one for less then $10, I figured it was worth a shot. 

My handy little manual also included instructions for changing the thermal fuse.  Once installed, I used the Voltmeter to make sure I got a reading, which I did!

Now the true test, I shimmied that washer/dryer back into place and ran a load of laundry.  It worked! It’s been over a month now and the dryer is still going strong.  I’m careful now that I don’t overheat and blow the fuse again.  I now feel more comfortable taking a shot first at simple repairs 🙂 Overall I spent less then $20 on the dryer repair, compared to what I’m sure would have been a $600 service call.

Please note: I am in no way a trained electrician or appliance repairman, I wanted to share my experience as a novice.  Repair at your own risk!

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