Clothes Dryer Repair
TOOLS & SAFETY
TIPS & TRICKS
1-1 CLOTHES DRYER BRAND IDENTIFICATION
Appliance companies, like most other major industries, have their share of takeovers, buyouts and cross-brand agreements.
In some cases, the same machine design is marketed under several different brand names or model names.
Other manufacturers merged or bought other companies, and put out several different designs under the same brand name. The different designs are differentiated by being a different "model" or "series."
Confusing the issue even more, some manufacturers "private label" their machines for large department stores. Such as Sears' Kenmore and Montgomery Ward's Signature machines.
Check the following list to determine if you have one of these "cross-branded" machines. If so, your repair info will be in the chapter for that design.
TO PROPERLY IDENTIFY YOUR DRYER,
ALSO BE SURE TO READ "THE BIG FIVE,"
IN SECTION 1-1(a) BELOW!!!
ADMIRAL: Maytag Herrin
CROSLEY: Maytag Herrin
HOTPOINT: General Electric
J.C. PENNEY: General Electric
MAGIC CHEF: Maytag Herrin
MONTGOMERY WARD: Maytag Performa or Frigidaire.
PENNCREST: General Electric
RCA: General Electric
SIGNATURE: Maytag Performa or Frigidaire
SPEED QUEEN: Amana
1-1(a) THE BIG FIVE
Following are the primary domestic manufacturers of the machines sold in the USA and Canada.
WHIRLPOOL: From the 50's to the present, Whirlpool used essentially the same old, dependable, bullet-proof design. The cabinet on these machines is 29 inches wide. These are in chapter 3.
In mid 90's, Whirlpool began manufacturing a 27" model. Many of the parts are the same, but the drum is supported by 4 rollers rather than 2. 27" models are disassembled differently from the 29" models. They are covered in chapter 3a.
In the '90's, Whirlpool purchased KitchenAid. KitchenAid and Roper machines are Whirlpool designs.
In 2006, Whirlpool purchased Maytag.
Kenmore dryers are, and always have been, private-labelled "Whirlpool" dryers.
GENERAL ELECTRIC: Until 1995, GE had made the same old fairly reliable design for 30 years. These machines were sold as GE, Hotpoint, and "private-labelled" as JC Penney and Penncrest brands.
In 1995, GE redesigned their dryers. They are disassembled and serviced slightly differently from the earlier machines. These machines were sold as GE, Hotpoint, and RCA machines.
Both the "old-style" and the newer GE machine designs are covered in this manual, in chapter 4.
FRIGIDAIRE: In the ('70's? "80's?) Westinghouse became White Consolidated Industries (WCI) and started buying up a whole bunch of different brands, including Frigidaire, Gibson,
Kelvinator, and others. WCI's machines were sold under these original brand names, as well as Westinghouse and White-Westinghouse brands.
In the '90's, WCI was bought by Swedish giant Electrolux, who changed the company name back to the Frigidaire Home Products Company. They appear to have redesigned virtually their entire lineup.
They are still marketing products under Frigidaire and Gibson; if you look at the model number, it will start with a G or an F. However, the design is the same.
Some Montgomery Ward / Signature machines were manufactured by WCI, some by Norge (see Maytag.)
AMANA: Same company as Speed Queen for awhile. Maytag has recently purchased Amana, but as of this writing, it has not shown up as substantial differences in their product line.
MAYTAG: Maytag currently has two different dryers wearing the Maytag brand name.
Standard Maytag machines and Atlantis machines are covered in Chapter 5.
Maytag "Performa" machines (Chapter 5a) are the result of the purchase of the Norge and Crosley line (and design) by Maytag. Norge was the original designer of these machines. They are also known as Maytag "Herrin" machines in the parts houses. They have continued to manufacture these "Herrin" machines as Maytag "Performa" models and high-end Crosley brand machines, but they have gone through a LOT of evolution. Some of the older Montgomery Ward / Signature machines are Norge machines.
In 2006, Whirlpool purchased Maytag.
1-2 BEFORE YOU START
Find yourself a good appliance parts dealer. You can find them in the yellow pages under the following headings:
- APPLIANCES, HOUSEHOLD, MAJOR
- APPLIANCES, PARTS AND SUPPLIES
- REFRIGERATORS, DOMESTIC
- APPLIANCES, HOUSEHOLD, REPAIR AND SERVICE
Call a few of them and ask if they are a repair service, or if they sell parts, or both. Ask them if they offer free advice with the parts they sell. (Occasionally, stores that offer both parts and service will not want to give you advice.) Often the parts counter men are ex-technicians who got tired of the pressures of in-home service. They can be your best friends. However, you don't want to badger them with TOO many questions, so know your basics before you start asking questions.
Some parts houses may offer service, too. Be careful! There may be a conflict of interest. They may try to talk you out of even trying to fix your own dryer. They'll tell you it's too complicated, then in the same breath "guide" you to their service department. Who are you gonna believe, me or them? Not all service and parts places are this way, however. If they genuinely try to help you fix it yourself, and you find that you're unable to, they may be the best place to look for service.
When you go into the store, have ready the make, model and serial number from the nameplate of the dryer.
The metal nameplate is usually found in one of the places shown in figure B-1:
A) Along the bottom panel, on the left or right corner.
B) Inside the door.
C) Somewhere on the back of the dryer.
D) On the side or top of the console.
If all else fails, check the original papers that came with your dryer when it was new. They should contain the model number somewhere.
In any case, and especially if you have absolutely NO information about your dryer anywhere, make sure you bring your old part to the parts store with you. Sometimes they can match it up by looks or by part number.
Figure B-1: Clothes Dryer Nameplate Location
1-3 TOOLS (Figure B-2)
The tools that you may need (depending on the diagnosis) are listed below. Some are optional. The reason for the option is explained.
For certain repairs, you will need a special tool. These are inexpensively available from your appliance parts dealer. They are listed in this book as needed.
SCREWDRIVERS: Both flat and phillips head; two or three sizes of each. It's best to have at least a stubby, 4- and 6-inch sizes.
NUTDRIVERS: You will need at least 1/4" and 5/16" sizes. 4- or 6-inch ones should suffice, but it's better to have a stubby, too. A certain procedure when working on gas valves (Chapter 2, replacing the split coil assembly) requires a 7/32" nutdriver in most cases.
ELECTRICAL PLIERS or STRIPPERS and DIAGONAL CUTTING PLIERS: For cutting and stripping small electrical wire.
BUTT CONNECTORS, CRIMPERS, WIRE NUTS and ELECTRICAL TAPE: For splicing small wire.
ALLIGATOR JUMPERS (sometimes called a "CHEATER" or "CHEATER WIRE":) Small guage (14-16 guage or so) and about 12-18 inches long, for testing electrical circuits. Available at your local electronics store. Cost: a few bucks for 4 or 5 of them.
VOM (VOLT-OHM METER) For testing electrical circuits. If you do not have one, get one. An inexpensive one will suffice, as long as it has both "AC Voltage" and "Resistance" (i.e. Rx1, Rx10) settings on the dial. It will do for our purposes.
Figure B-2: Tools
OPTIONAL TOOLS (Figure B-3)
SNAP-AROUND AMMETER: For determining if electrical components are energized. Quite useful; but a bit expensive, and there are alternate methods. If you have one, use it; otherwise, don't bother getting one.
EXTENDABLE INSPECTION MIRROR: For seeing difficult places beneath the dryer and behind panels.
CORDLESS POWER SCREWDRIVER OR DRILL/DRIVER WITH MAGNETIC SCREWDRIVER AND NUTDRIVER TIPS: For pulling off panels held in place by many screws. It can save you lots of time and hassle.
Figure B-3: Optional Tools
1-4 HOW TO USE A VOM AND AMMETER
Many home handymen are somewhat intimidated by electricity. It's true that diagnosing and repairing electrical circuits requires a bit more care than most operations, due to the
danger of getting shocked. But there is no mystery or voodoo about the things we'll be doing. Remember the rule in section 1-5 (1); while you are working on a circuit, energize the circuit only long enough to perform whatever test you're performing, then take the power back off it to perform the repair. You need not be concerned with any theory, like what an ohm is, or what a volt is. You will only need to be able to set the VOM onto the right scale, touch the test leads to the right place and read the meter.
In using the VOM (Volt-Ohm Meter) for our purposes, the two test leads are always plugged into the "+" and "-" holes on the VOM. (Some VOMs have more than two holes.)
1-4(a) TESTING VOLTAGE (Figure B-4)
Set the dial of the VOM on the lowest VAC scale (A.C. Voltage) over 120 volts. For example, if there's a 50 setting and a 250 setting on the VAC dial, use the 250 scale, because 250 is the lowest setting over 120 volts.
Touch the two test leads to the two metal contacts of a live power source, like a wall outlet or the terminals of the motor that you're testing for voltage. (Do not jam the test leads into a wall outlet!) If you are getting power through the VOM, the meter will jump up and steady on a reading. You may have to convert the scale in your head. For example, if you're using the 250 volt dial setting and the meter has a "25" scale, simply divide by 10; 120 volts would be "12" on the meter.
A word of caution: 220 Volts can be dangerous stuff!!! When testing 220 volt circuits (usually in electric dryers) make sure you always follow the precautions in rule 1 of section 1-5!
Figure B-4: Testing Voltage
1-4(b) TESTING FOR CONTINUITY (Figure B-5)
Don't let the word "continuity" scare you. It's derived from the word "continuous." In an electrical circuit, electricity has to flow from a power source back to that power source. If there is any break in the circuit, it is not continuous, and it has no continuity. "Good" continuity means that there is no break in the circuit.
For example, if you were testing a solenoid to see if it was burned out, you would try putting a small amount of power through the solenoid. If it was burned out, there would be a break in the circuit, the electricity wouldn't flow, and your meter would show no continuity.
That is what the resistance part of your VOM does; it provides a small electrical current (using batteries within the VOM) and measures how fast the current is flowing. For our purposes, it doesn't matter how fast the current is flowing; only that there is current flow.
To use your VOM to test continuity, set the dial on (resistance) R x 1, or whatever the lowest setting is. Touch the metal parts of the test leads together and read the meter. It should peg the meter all the way on the right side of the scale, towards "0" on the meter's "resistance" scale. If the meter does not read zero resistance, adjust the thumbwheel on the front of the VOM until it does read zero. If you cannot get the meter to read zero, the battery in the VOM is low; replace it.
If you are testing, say, a solenoid, first make sure that the solenoid leads are not connected to anything, especially a power source. If the solenoid's leads are still connected to something, you may get a readingthrough that something.
If there is still live power on the item you're testing for continuity, you will burn out your VOM instantly and possibly shock yourself.
Figure B-5: Testing Continuity
Touch the two test leads to the two bare wire ends or terminals of the solenoid. You can touch the ends of the wires and test leads with your hands if necessary to get better contact. The voltage that the VOM batteries put out is very low, and you will not be shocked. If there is NO continuity, the meter won't move. If there is GOOD continuity, the meter will move toward the right side of the scale and steady on a reading. This is the resistance reading and it doesn't concern us; we only care that we show good continuity. If the meter moves only very little and stays towards the left side of the scale, that's BAD continuity; the solenoid is no good.
If you are testing a switch, you will show little or no resistance (good continuity) when the switch is closed, and NO continuity when the switch is open. If you do not, the switch is bad.
Ammeters are a little bit more complex to explain without going into a lot of electrical theory. If you own an ammeter, you probably already know how to use it.
If you don't, don't get one. Ammeters are expensive. And for our purposes, there are other ways to determine what an ammeter tests for. If you don't own one, skip this section.
For our purposes, ammeters are simply a way of testing for continuity without having to cut into the system or to disconnect power from whatever it is we're testing.
Ammeters measure the current in amps flowing through a wire. The greater the current that's flowing through a wire, the greater the density of the magnetic field, or flux, it produces around the wire. The ammeter simply measures the density of this flux, and thus the amount of current, flowing through the wire. To determine continuity, for our purposes, we can simply isolate the component that we're testing (so we do not accidentally measure the cur rent going through any other components) and see if there's any current flow.
To use your ammeter, first make sure that it's on an appropriate scale (0 to 10 or 20 amps will do). Isolate a wire leading directly to the component you're testing. Put the ammeter loop around that wire and read the meter. (Figure B-6)
Figure B-6: Testing Amperage
1-5 BASIC REPAIR AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
1) Always de-energize (pull the plug or trip the breaker on) any dryer that you're disassembling. If you need to re-energize the dryer to perform a test, make sure any bare wires or terminals are taped or insulated. Energize the unit only long enough to perform whatever test you're performing, then disconnect the power again.
I want to impress upon you something really important. In electric dryers, you're usually dealing with 220 volt circuits. DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY. I've been hit with 110 volts now and then. Anyone who works with electrical equipment has at one time or another. It's unpleasant, but unless exposure is more than a second or so, the only harm it usually does is to tick you off pretty good.
However, 220 VOLTS CAN KNOCK YOU OFF YOUR FEET. IT CAN DO YOUR BODY SOME SERIOUS DAMAGE, VERY QUICKLY. DO NOT TEST LIVE 220 VOLT CIRCUITS. If you have a heart condition, epilepsy, or other potentially serious health conditions, well...hey, it's just my opinion, but you shouldn't be testing 220 volt circuits at all. It's not worth dying for.
2) If the manual advocates replacing the part, REPLACE IT!! You might find, say, a solenoid that has jammed for no apparent reason. Sometimes you can clean it out and lubricate it, and get it going again. The key words here are apparent reason. There is a reason that it stopped. You can bet on it. And if you get it going and re-install it, you are running a very high risk that it will stop again. If that happens, you will have to start repairing your dryer all over again. It may only act up when it is hot, or it may be bent slightly...there are a hundred different "what if's." Very few of the parts mentioned in this book will cost you over ten or twenty dollars. Replace the part.
3) If you must lay the dryer over on its side, front or back, first make sure that you are not going to break anything off, such as a gas valve. Lay an old blanket on the floor to protect the floor and the finish of the dryer.
4) Always replace the green (ground) leads when you remove an electrical component. They're there for a reason. And NEVER EVER remove the third (ground) prong in the main power plug!
5) When opening the clothes dryer cabinet or console, remember that the sheet metal parts are have very sharp edges. Wear gloves, and be careful not to cut your hands!
6) When testing for your power supply from a wall outlet, plug in a small appliance such as a shaver or blow dryer. If you're not getting full power out of the outlet, you'll know it right away.
7) If you have diagnosed a certain part to be bad, but you cannot figure out how to remove it, sometimes it helps to get the new part and examine it for mounting holes or other clues as to how it may be mounted.