replace or repair dryer

hemnancyNovember 26, 2010

We have a dryer about 15 years old that still runs but the heating element faded out and is not heating. Would this repair be easy and cheap enough to make sense or should we look for a new dryer since it is nearing end of life expectancy?

I'm wondering if new dryers have the problems of some other appliances where they have put computer mother boards in them that can cause malfunctions? We lost a 3 or 4 yo range to a mother board failure so I'm sensitive to this issue. At least the old appliance doesn't have this susceptibility.

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asolo

Dryers are pretty simple machines and the heating element is not difficult to replace. Assuming your diagnosis is correct and the machine is otherwise working well, I would certainly find out the price of a replacement element. The space can be a little tight, but the replacement procedure is otherwise easy to figure out and accomplish.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 4:41PM
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fordtech

Many appliances today use computer boards and many are of suspect reliability. I have seen many complaints about ranges especially. I purchase my range with a factory 5 year warranty on just that part for that reason.

If you are happy with the dryer apart from this minor failure I would just get it fixed or fix it yourself. Like Asolo said its not too terribly difficult on most machines.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2010 at 10:15PM
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drywall_diy_guy

A heating element is very easy to replace - once you get to it you remove a few screws to switch it out. Electric dryers in general are simple to repair, once you know how to get at things. Just make sure to unplug before doing anything. The site below gives an overview of different electric dryers and how to replace heating elements, belts, remove the drums, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Electric Dryer Repair Tutorials

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 8:06AM
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dadoes

There's no way to properly advise without more details. The brand/model of dryer involved hasn't yet been stated. The no-heat problem may not actually involve the heating element, unless the OP has tested/examined to confirm that. It's not uncommon that a thermal fuse, overheat protector, or thermostat is at fault instead of the element.

The linked site is a good start, but is somewhat basic and has a few errors. On the Amana belt replacement guide, for example, he directs to remove a "circular punch-out access panel that the dryer presumably had for such purpose" for access to attach the belt on the motor pulley. That punch-out is an alternate route for exhausting the dryer out the side, not for access to replace the belt ... that's why it's a 4" circular opening, same diameter as the exhaust flume.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 3:36PM
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hemnancy

The dryer is a Kenmore Model # 96284800. The heat didn't go out suddenly, there were a couple of loads that didn't quite dry enough and I started them again, followed by a load that was still very damp after run.

DH took the top off, tried to take off the back but it is spot-welded, so apparently he has to do a lot of work taking out the drum, since the other stuff is behind it without access?

We are still looking at instructions.

Thanks, Nancy

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 12:35AM
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dadoes

Check that model number again. There should be three more digits in front, separated by a period.

110.96284800?

If so, and it's a Whirlpool-built 27" wide unit, the heating element is in front under the drum. Access is from the front, yes, the drum comes out.

You can look up parts/breakdown diagrams at www.searspartsdirect.com by the model number. Parts are available online there at Sears, or another source I often use that's usually cheaper is PartsTap.com. Get the part number at Sears site, look it up at PartsTap and other sources for price comparison.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 8:52AM
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hemnancy

Thanks, dadoes, yes, I discovered finally last night I missed the large 110 in front of the small numbers. The Sears Direct site is down so I guess we wait until Monday. DH took practically the whole thing apart only to discover the burnt out element at the bottom, he thinks he could have accessed it from below without taking out the drum. Now he will have to get it all back together. Boy, the dryer really looks solid and well-made on the inside. He couldn't see the fuses anywhere, so hopefully they are fine, but I'm wondering if it might be good to replace them while everything is apart anyway. Or maybe they don't go bad from age alone?

Thanks, Nancy

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 4:50PM
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dadoes

Sears part site is working for me. Here's a link to a blow-up picture of the Bulkhead parts breakdown.

Your heating element is Part Number 3387747. PartsTap.com carries it for $45.28, which is less than Sears.

There's no need to replace any thermal fuses or thermostats unless they are known to be bad.

There is an overheat limiter thermostat (#48 on the diagram) on the left side of the heating element box. This thermostat triggers at 250ðF (auto-resets when it cools) and protects the element from overheating if airflow is obstructed, such as if the exhaust ducting gets clogged. A thermal cut-off (#47 on the diagram, behind the limiter thermostat) blows at 352ðF and serves as both a backup in case the limiter thermostat fails to shut off in an overheat situation, and also to further protect the machine in case the heating element was to short-to-ground (in which case it would heat even with the dryer OFF unless it's completely disconnected from power). The dryer will run if this fuse blows, but it won't heat. You should check this thermal cut-off with a volt-ohm meter while the machine is disassembled, as it can come into play during an element failure. It's either good or not, so no need to replace if it tests good (has continuity). The limiter thermostat and thermal cut-off are replaced as a pair.

Another thermal fuse (#59 in the diagram) is on top of the blower housing. If the temperature of the air IN THE DRUM gets too hot (probably about 196ðF), this fuse blows and shuts down the machine. This fuse is a safety backup for the operating thermostat next to it (#42 on the diagram). The operating thermostat maintains the selected drying temperature in the drum. At the high heat setting, it turns the element off at 155ðF and back on at 130ðF. The thermostat incorporates a bias heater, which is a small heating source inside of it that "tricks" it into cycling on/off lower temps, for the medium and low heat settings.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2010 at 5:41PM
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hemnancy

Thanks so much for you help, dadoes! DH tested the other stuff but only the heating element seemed bad. The metal base was cracked across and blackened. Good thing there isn't much flammable stuff in there. He insisted on paying more from a local appliance parts place instead of waiting on one. It seems to run fine but we are still cleaning out the ductwork and replacing outside cover, so haven't run any loads. DH is sorry he took so much apart without a chart since it was unnecessary, then he had to work harder getting it all back together.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 4:44PM
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asolo

'....we are still cleaning out the ductwork and replacing outside cover...."

Good on ya for this. I'm thinking may be related to the element failure. Don't know, just wondering. Good to get it cleaned out anyway.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 10:19PM
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