How to repair a General Electric/Hotpoint Dryer

Has your General Electric dryer quit?
Are your wet clothes piling up?
Is your Hotpoint dryer just not drying like it used to?
Or not heating up at all?
Is your GE dryer getting noisier?

No need to call an expensive GE dryer serviceman, and then wait a couple of hours (or DAYS) for him to show up! Diagnose your problem RIGHT NOW, cheaply and easily.

General Electric clothes dryer diagnosis and repair procedures are included for common symptoms, such as low heat or not heating, noisy operation or rumbling sounds, clothes taking too long to dry, electrical and timer problems, gas burners and electric heaters, drive train and belt replacement problems and other GE dryer problems.

NOTE: THIS chapter has info specific to General Electric dryers…the general layout, airflow and drum support, how to open the cabinet and access internal parts, and common complaints. The second menu item on the right (in red) contains information on problems common to ALL dryers…gas burner, igniter and pilot repair, noisy operation, problems with heating, the drum turning, drive belts, airflow and fans, and electrical diagnosis of components. If you do not read “Problems Common to All Brands” first, you may not be able to properly diagnose your GE dryer!!! CLICK HERE to go to this page.

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Machine Layout

Figure GE-1 shows the general layout of these machines. The rear of the drum is supported by a small shaft and bearing. The front of the drum is supported by glide pads. Older machines used two small glide pads underneath the drum for support (See also figure GE-4) Newer machines have a 3-glide assembly attached to the inside front of the cabinet. The blower fan is attached directly to the front of the drive motor. The drive belt comes directly off the rear of the motor and goes completely around the drum.

Electrical model GE dryers use a double heater element. One of the two elements is energized for the low heat cycle; both heaters are energized for high heat. Late models have the heater elements contained in a cylindrical heater chamber fastened to the right front baseplate of the machine. In earlier models, the heaters are in a circular chamber directly behind the drum.

GE went kind of crazy with thermostats for a while. I’m sure their design engineers know what they’re doing, but…well, let’s just say that to my experience, GE machines tend to have more thermostats than other brands. Moreover, they tend to migrate from model to model. Your model may have thermostats in just about any of the places shown in figure GE-2.

Figure GE-1: General Layout

Figure GE-2: Possible Thermostat Locations

Common General Electric Dryer Problems

The most common problems with these machines are:

1) Noisy operation. If you hear a very loud clattering sound, the belt could be broken. When the belt breaks in these machines, the tensioner touches the motor pulley and causes one heckuva loud racket. To confirm this diagnosis, check to see if the drum is turning. Replace the belt as described later on this page.

Another common cause of noise happens when the drum front support glides wear out. This causes a pronounced scrubbing sound (metal-to-metal.)

Also, if they are worn badly, you will see the top inner lip of the drum wearing the inside top of the clothes port. The solution is to remove the front of the cabinet as described later on this page and replace the drum front support glides .

A squeaking or squealing noise can be caused by the rear drum bearing wearing out. Remove the drum and replace the bearing as described later on this page.

2) Heating problems. Diagnose and repair as described in “Problems Common to All Brands.”

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Cabinet Access Panels (Fig. GE-3)

ACCESS TO BELT TENSIONER, REAR BEARING OR GAS BURNER

Each of these components has its own access panel:

The gas burner access panel is located in the lower right front of the cabinet. To open, push in on the top of the panel. The bottom is on nylon snaps and will pop off. Then just lift the panel out.

The belt tensioner is accessed through the bottom panel of the back of the dryer. The rear drum support bearing is accessed through the small panel in the center of the back of the dryer. In newer style machines, there is no access panel; you simply remove the cabinet top and front and slide the drum out.

Figure GE-3: Opening the Cabinet

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How to remove the GE front panel
and replace the drum glides

Several different methods have been used to fasten the front panel to the cabinet top (see figure GE-3 above). Unscrew the screws or pop the catches and lift the lid of the dryer.

NOTE: If you are testing the heaters of rear-heater models, the terminals are accessible at this point. Look to the rear of the drum on the right side. You can test them as described later on this page. In bottom-heater models, you must remove the front panel as described below to test the heater element.

Loosen, but do not remove, the two screws at the bottom front corners of the front panel of the cabinet. Unscrew the two screws at the top front corners inside the cabinet. Disconnect any door switch wires and lift off the front panel of the dryer.

The blower hub has a two-piece clamp which will fall apart if you remove it, so do not remove the hub clamp unless you plan to remove the whole motor and blower housing assembly as described later on this page.

Also while the cabinet front panel is off, inspect the felt seal inside the front panel for wear, excessive lint, or any debris that might be stuck to it.

Remove and inspect the front drum support glides as shown in figure GE-4. Newer models have three glides attached to the inside of the front panel. Whether they’re badly worn or not, it’s a good idea to replace them as cheap insurance against future problems.

Figure GE-4: Drum Glides

Belt Replacement

Open up the cabinet as described above.

Open the rear cabinet bottom panel. Reach inside and remove the belt tension as shown in figure GE-5.

Remove the cabinet front panel as described above. Once the cabinet front panel is off, you should be able to slip the belt out from around the drum, through the front.

Figure GE-5: Belt Tensioner

Drum Removal

The drum must be removed to service the electric heaters, or to remove the blower or motor, to replace the rear drum bearing.

In certain models, you will also need to remove the front drum support glides to get the drum out. you should be able to lift and slide the dryer drum straight outward. While the machine is open, vacuum out all accumulated lint. Be careful not to knock any wires loose.

Older models have a circlip (“E”- ring) holding the rear drum shaft in place and a small drum bearing inspection plate in the center of the rear of the dryer to access this circlip. (See Figure GE-3) If you have an inspection plate, remove it now. Later models do not have this inspection plate, nor the circlip.

Inside the inspection plate, you will see the drum support shaft and an “E-“ring holding it in place. Remove the “E-“ring with a small screwdriver. If you have a magnet, you may also be able to use it to avoid dropping the ring inside the dryer. There are spacer shims between the bearing and the “E-“ring. There are more shims inside the bearing, between the bearing and the drum. Some are nylon and some are metal. Note how they come off, and make sure you put the shims back on the same way they come off.

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How to replace the blower wheel

If you need to replace the blower wheel on an old style machine, you must remove the dryer drum as described iabove. Pull the six screws holding the blower housing to the baseplate, remove the motor mounting nuts and pull out the motor and blower housing as an assembly. In some models, you must remove the tensioner arm to get the motor assembly out.

When re-installing the blower, you must align the blower wheel so it does not touch the blower housing. To do this, loosen (but do not remove!) the clamp that holds the wheel to the motor shaft.

Electric Heaters

The heater elements can be tested without removing them. Note which lead goes on which terminal and remove the leads from the terminals. The two heater elements are tested separately, if one is bad, BOTH must be replaced. Test them as described in Chapter 2. The elements are wired as shown in figure GE-6.

Figure GE-6: GE Clothes Dryer Heater Elements

In rear-heater (circular) models, the elements must be pre-stretched to the correct length before installing. Follow the instructions that come with the new heaters. DO NOT OVERSTRETCH THEM! It’s better to leave them an inch or so short, and work them to the proper length when the heater element is in place in the dryer. Also, make sure you inspect the porcelain insulators and replace any that are cracked or broken.

In bottom heater GE clothes dryer models, the whole heater chamber is replaced. Remove the two screws holding down the front end of the chamber and the back end just slips out of the heat riser.

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