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Electric Dryer Maintenance

Learn how to disassemble, clean


and test components on GE style
electric clothes dryers. You will
need a few hand tools to
disassemble the dryer with, and a
digital multi-meter to test the
switches and heating elements.
Safety First
Nothing is more important than being
safe in everything that you do. Always
unplug the dryer before you start to
disassemble anything.
Be aware of the sharp edges of metal
inside the dryer cabinet that can cut
you.
You’ll need to move the dryer away from the wall so you
can get behind it to unplug the power cord and disconnect
the vent hose.

I like to take a couple of thick towels or small rugs and tip


the dryer to one side and slide a towel or rug under the
two feet on one side, then tip it to the other side and put
a towel or rug under those feet. The dryer can then be
moved easily on the floor without making marks. It will be
best to move it to where you have room to work around
it. When the dryer is out of the way, now is a good time
to check and clean the hose or pipe that carries the air to
the outside. Blockage of this pipe, by lint or any other
foreign matter, can cause a restriction of airflow, which
can cause your dryer to overheat.
This is an older style GE dryer made in 1988. It
has given many years of service and will continue
to do so as long as it is maintained well.
We need to remove the top of the cabinet first. To
do this, remove the 4 screws located inside the
door under the front edge of the top.
No need to remove anything on the back of
the dryer. The hinges will allow the top to tilt
up.
This is what you’ll see when you tilt the top
up. Be sure to secure the top so it doesn’t
fall on you while you work.
Have a vacuum cleaner close by and
vacuum away the lint as you disassemble.
Next we’ll remove the front of the cabinet. Mark
and disconnect the wires going to the door switch
and to the light, if your dryer has one.
Remove the screw from the wiring harness
clip.
Remove the upper front cabinet screws and
the wire hanger holding the wires.
Loosen the 2 bottom front cabinet screws. You
don’t have to remove them because the screw
hole is a slot.
With the door closed, lift the front of the
cabinet off the screws and set it down.
Remove the metal clip holding the wires. You
should now have enough slack in the wires to lay
the cabinet front on the floor.
Here you see the thermostat. It controls the
temperature of the heat. I’ll show how to test it
later.
As you could see from the last slide, I have not cleaned this
dryer in a while. Cleaning should be done every 18 to 24
months. More often if the dryer is used daily.
Clean and inspect the drum seal.
Clean out the inside of the front duct.
This is the top of the front duct, where the lint filter
goes. Clean away all the lint that you can reach.
Inside the front duct is the cover over the
thermostat.
Remove the two screws that are farthest
apart.
Remove the cover, then remove the
remaining screw and the thermostat.
About the thermostat
The thermostat controls the amount of heat that the clothes
dryer puts out. When the air temperature in the dryer
reaches the setting of the thermostat, the switch opens
and the heating elements turn off. Once the air cools
enough, the switch closes and the heating elements start
to get hot again. If the thermostat fails with the switch
open, the heating elements will not work. If the
thermostat fails with the switch closed, the hi limit switch,
which is another thermostat with a slightly higher setting
that is mounted to the element housing, will open and
turn off the elements. If this should happen, you might
notice that the clothes are hotter than normal when they
are finished drying.
Testing the thermostat
Test the thermostat using a digital
multi-meter set to read ohms and a
heat source. The heat source can be
a soldering iron, a clothes iron or
even a candle.
Once you have the thermostat out, you can test it with a
digital multi-meter. Set the meter to read ohms on the
lowest scale. If the meter indicates anything besides open
(“OL”), then the thermostat is good. Now, test the
thermostat to see if it opens when it gets hot.
Hold the thermostat to the heat source and when the preset
temperature is reached you will hear a “click”, the switch inside
the thermostat should open and the meter shows open (“OL”).
This also indicates a good thermostat. Remove the thermostat
from the iron. In less than a minute it should cool down and you
will hear a “click”. The meter should again show continuity.
If the thermostat passes all the test, reassemble it
back into the front duct and set the front assembly
aside.
Now lets remove the drum. This is the drive belt
that I’m pointing to. I goes around the drum,
around an idler pulley and around the drive motor
pulley.
First you have to remove the rear cover.
Here is what you’ll likely see. Be sure to make note
of how the belt is routed around the idler pulley
and motor pulley.
Push the idler pulley arm toward the floor and
remove the belt. Carefully release the tension on
the idler arm.
Lay the belt to the back of the drum.
Remove the cover over the rear drum bearing mount. Here
you also see the grounding strap that rubs the end of the
drum stub shaft.
Remove the nut holding the ground strap to the
drum support bearing.
With the ground strap removed, you can see the
C-clip that retains the drum. Use a screwdriver to
pry the clip off.
There is a washer behind the clip that must
be removed also.
Now lift the front of the drum slightly and slide it
forward and remove the drum from the cabinet.
Now you can see the heating elements.
These coils of wire heat up to provide warm air to dry your
clothes. Inspect them closely, looking for breaks in the wire.
A break would disable that element, resulting in low heat or
no heat.
Check both elements. Note that the wires should be
removed from the copper stud terminals before testing. Be
sure to mark them so you know where to put them back.
Check the elements with a meter set to read ohms. If the
meter shows any reading at all, the element is good. If it
shows open or “OL”, the element is bad and needs to be
replaced.
If the elements need replacing, it is very easy to do.
Disconnect them from the three terminals by loosening the
nuts. Pull the old elements out of the insulators and thread
the new ones back though them. Reconnect them exactly
like the old ones were.
This is the high limit safety switch. It turns off the
heating elements at a higher setting than the
thermostat, should the thermostat fail.
Mark the wires and remove the
switch for testing.
Check it with your meter set on ohms. If good it will show a
reading. If the meter reads open or “OL”, the switch is bad
and should be replaced.
Check it the same way that you checked the
thermostat, by applying heat to make the switch
contacts open. If all is good, put the switch back in
place and attach the wires.
Next, remove and clean behind the heat diffuser. Mark the
drum, the diffuser and the stub shaft for correct reassembly.
Remove the three screws inside the drum
that hold the shaft and diffuser.
As you can see, the accumulated lint has been blocking
some of the holes in the drum, reducing air flow and
increasing heat to the point that the lint turned brown and
could have ignited.
After you reassemble the drum, diffuser and
stub shaft, clean the bottom of the cabinet,
motor and duct.
This is one of the drum slides. The front of the
drum slides on these as it rotates. If the nylon strip
is worn through or is very thin, it should be
replaced.
Clean any accumulated lint and dust off of
the fan blades with a small brush.
Now lets put it all back together. Lay the belt
over the heating element housing.
Put a small amount of grease on the stub
shaft.
Also lube the idler pulley and shaft.
Put the drum back in place and lay the belt
back where it ran before.
Push down on the idler pulley arm and put the belt
around the motor pulley and over the idler pulley.
This is what it should look like.
Rotate the drum by hand a couple of
turns to let the belt align itself.
Install the washer and C-clip.
Install the ground strap. Finish putting the cabinet
back together in the reverse of disassembly. Move
the dryer back into place, plug it in and connect the
vent hose.
I hope this has been helpful and has saved
you some money. Dryers are very simple
and most all of its parts are replaceable.
Most people just go buy a new one when it
starts giving trouble, but with regular
maintenance and cleaning it will give many
years of service. Repairclinic.com is a great
resource for parts and service help.