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Whirlpool Duet Dryer REPAIRING Dryer Heating Element - DON"T WASTE $$$

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zhillsgator:
I have a Whirlpool Duet Dryer about 5 yrs. old.  My wife tells me that the dryer is not working - rrrrrrr.....!!    Just spent last Thursday diagnosing and replacing a throttle actuator on my daughters scion tc  to the tune of $450, so really did not want to hear this.

I checked dryer, everything seemed to be working properly, only prob dryer not heating up.  i think heating element or circuit that powers it.  Ok i get an online repair manual from this site.

First checked the dryer circuit breakers - flipped off, then back on - seemed fine.  Next from information gleaned from these sites, I UNPLUGGED THE DRYER!!!! then i crack open the front of the unit.   Info in the repair manual is great for technical instruction, so first i checked the thermal fuse.  I used a multimeter to check, but you could have used continuity tester to diagnose these issues.  The thermal fuse showed continuity (it tells you exactly how to do it in the repair manual), so the next thing to check was the dryer heating element (again, specific instructions in the repair manual).  Following the repair manual, i pulled one wire off of the terminal of the dryer  heating element (you have to pull pretty good to get it off) check it, Uh oh no continuity - (all this means is that there is a break in the circuit somwhere, in this case it means that the heating element has a break in it somewhere). Before taking the heating element out, i tested the heating element about 1/4 of the way down, had continuity, but 1/2 way down i had no continuity.  i then was positive, even before pulling the element out that it had a break in it.  Please do not feel in any way that you cannot do this, because you can -  all you need is a multimeter or continuity tester and the ability to read, and a few very basic tools.

OK, so i pull the heating element out (again read the repair manual, making sure you remove the screw and give it a good tug) - i find the break, which  was caused by a flat piece of the aluminum within the framework of the heating element cracking (i suppose from being heated and cooled about 5000 times) and kind of laying down onto the coils of the element. i think that the piece of metal (which is directly grounded to the dryer frame via the element houseing) grounded out the heating element causing it to burn through.  Other than the one place the element is fine.

 I start thinking, really all i need to do is put the two ends of the heating element back together (create continuity).  Solder would just burn through, so maybe a crimp on electrical connector would work (google -electrical connector butt splice).   I get the smallest butt splice connector i have.  It is insulated, so i should probably remove the  insulation. i really don't have to, but if i don't, when it is burning off while my wife is drying clothes, she will smell it and freak out.  I do this by getting a lighter and burning the insulation off of the connector.  So i can access the broken area better, I carefully remove the broken section of the element from the ceramic holders.  You want to be careful not to compress the coils of the element, or it may short out if compressed to the point of touching.  i put the splice on one end, crimp, then do the same to the other.  Make sure you crimp both ends down really good.  About 15 minutes later (and about 15 cents), we are back in business drying clothes again. 

I read in another forum some guy said the connector could start a fire, by coming loose and falling down in some lint.  I argue back that the brittle piece of aluminum that came loose and fell onto the glowing coils and shorted my OEM heater element could have done the same thing.  Also, with the aluminum housing completely surrounding the heating element, the worst it could do is burn through and fall on the bottom of the housing, which after 5 years of heavy use contained less lint than my bellybutton. 

Anyway, just my opinion.  Also, i am getting more and more determined to not just replace parts, to try and fix as much as possible.  Good luck and hope this helps someone.

wildimaginations:
Thanks for the info.  I'd like to hear from you again in about a month to let us know how it's doing.  It's interesting how you thought this out.  O0

tgoods:
Yeah, not a good repair.  You're better off fixing it right and replacing the element.

RegUS_PatOff:

--- Quote from: tgoods on September 05, 2011, 11:08:37 PM ---
Yeah, not a good repair.  You're better off fixing it right and replacing the element.
--- End quote ---
... I agree..
also should use hi-temperature connectors ..
also, as Dryer Heating Elements age, they tend to sag, and will eveltually short again, soon

JWWebster:
They also get brittle with age. Go ahead and order a new element now and have it when the heat goes out again in a month on a sunday night before school..

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