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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
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The 'No-Heat' Dryer

Here’s a call I heard nearly every day of the year:

‘My dryer runs, but doesn’t heat.’ So I thought I’d share a few quick tips on the most common causes for this. To keep it brief, I’ll deal only with electric dryers here, though some of this can be applied to your gas machine as well.

First, in many cases, the dryer actually IS heating, but there’s just not enough airflow out the vent to take advantage of it, so the end result’s the same as ‘no heat’. So first determine that there’s a strong flow of air out the vent.  If there isn't, checking the ductwork will usually reveal the source of the airflow problem. I can’t stress this enough - low airflow’s the no. 1 cause of dryer problems, not to mention dryer fires. Then check if there’s any heat in the drum when running empty. Note: there's finally a simple, inexpensive tool to test airflow in Whirlpool-built dryers!

If there doesn’t seem to be any heat at all, first check for 240V present at the dryer. I can tell you that many hours have been wasted over the years by not *doing this first*! Skipping this step is probably THE most common mistake of the novice appliance tech (and some pros who should know better! <g> ).

If you have a voltmeter or 240V bulb, just check for 240V at the dryer term. block, and you will save some aggravation and possibly a service call.

If you have no way to test this, or you are at all uneasy about messing with 240V (you HAVE read my disclaimer, right?), just go to your breaker box and throw the dryer breaker off/on several times. Resetting a sticky breaker like this will often restore the 240V. (If your dryer is connected with fuses, replace both of them and try it again.) Sometimes - just sometimes - resetting the breaker will restore 240V, especially in damp basements.

(On the handiest tool list: a 240V/10W bulb with leads/alligator clips, carried in your pocket - a real timesaver, and far superior to neon testers)

How you proceed from here depends on your abilities, and I’m not able to get too involved in this short article. I’d probably suggest calling a pro if you’ve proven 240V to the machine, there definitely is no heat, and there’s plenty of air out the vent. A pro sees this problem every day and can usually diagnose it in 10-15  minutes.

I will say to those of you who are ‘handy’ - start at the heat source and work *backwards*. If there’s nothing obvious (burnt wiring, etc) attach that 240V bulb to the element leads (or gas valve 120V supply), and fire the dryer up.

Light = open element (gas control/ignition system problems).
No light = other problems (thermal fuse, t'stat, etc).

Keep it simple. This one usually is.

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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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