Dryer overheated

KiwiOctober 25, 2011

Just wondering if any of you could possibly answer a question for me please? The other day I smelled something unusual in the house. It smelled a lot like the smell when you first turn on the furnace for the winter season. However that was not the case as the furnace was off. I made my way downstairs and the smell was stronger as I approached the dryer. Touched the dryer and it was so hot to the touch I had to use a potholder to open the door. Once I opened the door in which I had a load of towels in the dryer there was this large piece of melted plastic that was unidentifiable. All I could think of at the time is what the heck is this thing....thatâÂÂs the nice way of putting it. lol

I immediately went to find a fan to place in front of the open door to try and cool the dryer down so I could do some investigating. I removed the towels & the plastic piece and was able to stick my head into the dryer some to have a look around. I found that the plastic piece was what I now know to be called a "baffle" was missing. This baffle was completely melted and not only was it melted the lint trap handle was also melted a little.

I was on my way out of town and thank goodness I found this before leaving as I'm wondering now if the dryer could have caught fire and burned the house down. I unplugged the dryer and left the fan running to cool it down but my question is what could have caused this to happen? Is this the result of the thermostat sticking causing extreme heat? Is it the result of the baffle falling off that the dryer got so hot? I really would like to know what needs to be replaced and if any of you have an idea of what it may cost to repair this problem.

Any suggestions or thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. :)

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Don't know: not there to observe. However.....

What you've described is typical of obstructed dryer vent. This is a COMMON cause of house-fires.

Because you seem to be baffled, I would STRONGLY suggest getting an experienced person in there to examine and advise. It is likely one of those simple things with potentially catastrophic consequences. A little knowledge and experience will have you correct and safe in no time.

Except you'll need to have the dryer checked out, too. It may be toast.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 8:25PM
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A model number would be helpful so I perhaps could check what kind of overheat protection is on the machine in question.

Yes, the situation certainly could have a resulted in a fire. VERY fortunate you caught it in time.

Dryer heating is controlled by --

1) An operating thermostat or thermistor (temp sensor) in the exhaust airflow that cycles the heating element off/on to maintain the target drying temperature.

2) An overheat thermostat on the heating element box which cycles the heat off if airflow is obstructed (for example due to a clogged filter or clogged exhaust ducting) and causes the element to run too hot. This thermostat resets when it cools sufficiently, so the dryer largely continues to operate normally.

3) A thermal fuse in the exhaust airflow as a fail-safe for the operating thermostat. The machine usually won't run when this fuse blows (typically at an air temperature of ~190F). Thermal fuses do not reset upon cooling, they must be replaced. The operating thermostat must also be replaced in this case, being the cause of the blown thermal fuse.

4) Another thermal fuse on the element box as a fail-safe for a heating element shorted to ground. The dryer may still run if this fuse blows but it won't heat. A grounded element (broken or sagging and touching the metal frame) will typically heat continuously (unless the machine is unplugged from power), EVEN if the dryer is OFF or set to "air" temperature.

Some older machines may not have one or both of the thermal fuses. Without the backup fuses, either of the thermostats failing could cause an overheating situation as you experienced.

Hot as your machine apparently got (melting a drum baffle and the filter handle, wow!) ... it'd need a thorough exam and servicing, if not outright replacement. Other internal parts and wiring could be damaged.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:52PM
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Has your dryer ever had the cover removed and vacuumed or cleaned out? A lot of dryer dust can collect inside the dryer. Our WP dryer manual suggests that every three years we have the cover taken off and the insides cleaned and inspected.
The dust and lint inside the machine could catch fire and cause a dryer fire. Dryer fires are a common cause of houses burning down.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:47PM
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Can hooking the wires up wrong to the element cause a dryer to overheat?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2014 at 7:10PM
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You were lucky. I would start over with a new dryer. But I would also try to find out the exact cause of the failure was it the dryer or was it for the dryer was attached to.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2014 at 2:30AM
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