No warm air in the dryer

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by rburt5, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. rburt5

    rburt5 Member

    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    Canton, Ohio
    I think the heating element went bad in my dryer. It's about 6 years old. How can I test to make sure that's what it is?
  2. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    First, call any appliance parts store and ask how much it is for a new heating element for your dryer.
    If that is more than you want to spend based on how much a new dryer costs and the likelihood that this is the only problem, you're done.

    Otherwise, check the heating element with an ohmmeter. If the element pulls 25A at 240V it should read ~10 ohms.

    They also have a thermal overload sensor that may have permanently gone open, either because it failed or because it had good reason to open (like the vents being clogged with lint).

    If you post a photo of the schematic, all of us can help troubleshoot this.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    If you post your model number, we can get you part numbers and online retail prices are easy to find.

    The heating element is a good guess, because they do go out every several years. There is also the thermostat and the hi limit thermostat.

    Somewhere on the back or inside your dryer will be a wiring diagram if you are comfortable with a volt meter and an ohm-meter.

    You will probably find a lot of lint in places where it should not be...on top of the heat box, etc! Have a shop vac ready when you start opening it up. MAKE SURE the circuit breaker is OFF before you start poking around inside.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,273
    Location:
    New England
    The motor that turns the drum in your dryer is likely 120vac, while the heating element(s) are 240. If you lost one phase, the heating elements wouldn't turn on, but the motor might spin the drum - it would depend on which leg was loose. So, it could be a bad breaker or plug, or wiring somewhere. Have you tried just resetting the circuit breaker?
  5. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    Yes.

    Sometimes with breakers with ganged handles you can't easily see that one is in the tripped position.

    Even if both handles are in the on position it would be a good idea to pull the dryer plug partially out and make sure you have 120, 120, 240 on the plug blades.
  6. rburt5

    rburt5 Member

    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    Canton, Ohio
    Luckily, I decided to check the lint trap under behind the screen before digging into the heating element. It was almost entirely plugged up with lint. I think this will probably solve my problem, but I will keep you informed if it doesn't.
  7. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    You should clean the exterior vent screen monthly, and entire vent system at least once a year. Lint build-up is a major source of home fires. My sister's neighbor died for one about 2 months ago.

    I found a handy tool to clean the vent pipe and reported on it here: http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showpost.php?p=157619&postcount=1
  8. rburt5

    rburt5 Member

    Messages:
    80
    Location:
    Canton, Ohio
    First of all, the title of my first post is a little misleading because there was always SOME heat in the dryer - just not enough. I cleaned the vent system all the way through from the screen to where the vent exits the house. Then I ran a load through the dryer, and it dried much better, but still not as well as it used to. I had to add an extra 20 minutes to the cycle. Could the heating element be going bad gradually? Do they produce less heat as they start to wear out? Also, it may be nothing, but when I opened the dryer door there was a ton of steam that came rolling out. I've never noticed that before, but I've never really looked for it before, either. Is that common, or should the steam be leaving the dryer through the vent system?
  9. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    No, they don't fail gracefully but other components may.
  10. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Is is possible that you may have moved accumulated lint from elsewhere into an area of the dryer that you can get to? Tye steam should be leaving through the vent so it seems that you still have restricted airflow.

    An electric dryer is a fairly simple device. The heating element either works or it doesn't, and there are no moving parts. Is the airflow what it's supposed to be?
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,273
    Location:
    New England
    It sounds like your vent line is clogged up. It'd take the grill off the outside then run the dryer and see what kind of flow you have. It should be pretty forceful. You could shove a hose from a shopvac into the duct and try to suck out some of the lint. The steam indicates the whole thing is getting hotter than it should and if you ran it with a lighter load and it got bone dry, it might just light some of that lint or the clothes ruining your day assuming you live through it.

    If you are using plastic corregated duct, throw it away and go with either solid duct or the slightly flexible banded stuff. You'll save money, help prevent fires, and shorten your cycle time.
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