Clothes dryers are easy to troubleshoot.

Help on How to Troubleshoot Why a Kenmore Dryer Doesn't Work

by Jerry Walch

The process of troubleshooting a Kenmore dryer is basically the same as diagnosing other brands of dryers. The problems, causes and solutions, as well as the troubleshooting procedures, are much the same for all makes of dryers. Most problems can be diagnosed and repaired with nothing more than a few simple hand tools and a digital multimeter. Most of the procedures are so simple that even a rank beginner can perform them on a first attempt.

1. Dryer Does Not Start

An appliance that is completely dead is perhaps the easiest problem to troubleshoot. Always begin with the obvious. Ensure the dryer is plugged in and that its circuit breaker or fuses have not tripped open or blown. As with any electrical appliance, always unplug its power cord for safety before beginning any troubleshooting procedure. All the electrical tests that you must perform will be for continuity and require no power being applied to the appliance. A dryer that does not run, spin or get hot can usually be traced to a defective door switch, start button or timer. The door switch, mounted on the side of the door frame, is an open switch that closes when the door is closed. To check the switch, close the door, remove the wires from one of its terminals, set the digital multimeter to its "R x 1" scale and take a reading through it. A good switch will cause a “0.000” to be displayed on the meter’s LCD. A faulty switch will cause an “O.L.” to be displayed. Test the start switch -- a normally open, momentary contact switch -- by holding the button in and taking a reading through it. Check the continuity through the internal contacts of the timer by referring to the contact diagram on the rear of the dryer.

2. Does Not Get Hot

A Kenmore dryer that spins but does not get hot may have an open heater element, a defective temperature-cycling thermostat, high-limit thermostat, thermal fuse or malfunctioning contacts in the timer. The heating element can be checked by taking a resistance reading through the element itself after removing one of the wires from its terminals. An element that displays an “O.L.” is bad and needs to be replaced; likewise with the thermal fuse. Although the thermostats can be checked for continuity with a meter, if the thermostats are suspected, it's best to replace both of them. A continuity test will not detect if the thermostat is opening at a very low temperature.

3. Does Not Spin

If you can hear the motor running but the Kenmore dryer’s drum does not spin, the problem is a broken dryer belt. Replacing a broken belt is easy, but you must get an exact replacement for your model of Kenmore dryer. Take the make and model of your dryer, along with the old belt, to the appliance parts store so the clerk can match it with the right replacement belt.

4. Noisy Operation

A dryer that is noisy, squeaking or thumping usually has bad front slider bearings or rear drum-mount bearing. For a thumping sound, reach inside the drum and try moving it up and down at its rear. If it moves, the rear bearing is bad and needs to be replaced. Squeaking is caused by worn front slider bearings. These bearings are really not bearings in the traditional sense, but rectangular pieces of nylon that slip into slots on the drum's outer lip.

About the Author

Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jerry Walch has been writing articles for the DIY market since 1974. His work has appeared in “Family Handyman” magazine, “Popular Science,” "Popular Mechanics," “Handy” and other publications. Walch spent 40 years working in the electrical trades and holds an Associate of Applied Science in applied electrical engineering technology from Alvin Junior College.

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