In this particular article in my series on appliance repair, I will be discussing how to diagnose and repair problems with your Whirlpool built gas dryer. Please don’t get hung up on the fact that I’ll be discussing the Whirlpool brand appliance – what we’ll be looking at today applies pretty much across all major manufacturers. It’s just that my good friends at Best Appliance Repair (http://appliancerepair-scottsdale.com), helped me out with this article and they recommended that we use Whirlpool dryer repair as our ‘test case’.
The lint trap positioned at the right rear of the dryer top can easily determine this Whirlpool dryer design. While some cabinet variations through the years require examination to be able to access internal components, the basic design and inner workings of this Whirlpool built dryer remains the same.
I learned at a young age that the best way to understand something is to take it apart, so that’s what we’re going to do in this article. In other articles I’ll look more closely at troubleshooting temperature problems and strange noises, but for now we’re just going to tear it down and briefly explain the components that we encounter.
Before we begin let me just say that sheet metal is very sharp. I highly recommend the use of gloves when working on appliances. I’ve received stitches more than once due to careless mistakes. Also, make sure that the dryer is unplugged. So let’s start at the top.
First remove the two Phillips head screws located just below the lint catcher. Be careful not to let these screws fall down into the lint trap. If you already did, don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
Next, we bear hug the top of the dryer and pull forward slightly to release the top from the two clips attached to the dryer front. You can also use a flat head screwdriver or a putty knife by pushing the tabs inward to release them.
Next, we are going to remove the dryer front. Pull the two 5/16” screws that pass through the bent side panels into the two small threaded clips placed over the holes of the front door panel. Now the front panel should lift off of the bottom retaining clips.
I like to leave this door switch connected with the door closed for less confusing troubleshooting. On some models this is not possible. Just be careful not to cut or apply too much tension to this door switch connection. The door switch actuator arm can physically break off. When this happens, it is unable to sense if the door is closed and assumes that it is open, not allowing any electricity to flow beyond the timer.
You may hear the timer advance, but the motor and burner cannot operate. To replace it, disconnect its wiring connection, remove the two Phillips head screws that mount it in place, and replace it with a new switch. Now let’s pull the drum.
On the bottom right side under the drum you will find a belt pinch and pulley. To remove this we will press the pulley in an arching motion up and towards the right side of the dryer. This will allow slack in the belt so that it can be pulled slightly forward and off of the motor pulley. Now we can remove the drum.
I like to use the belt as a handle for this as long as it’s intact. This technique keeps the belt from getting hooked on things down below as you remove the drum and makes things a little easier. Before we start ripping out the guts of this thing, let’s pull the back panel off.
The rear panel of the dryer is held on by a handful of ¼” screws. The back of the dryer is home to the thermal fuse, which is a temperature sensitive fuse that is designed to burn out and break electrical contact if the dryer becomes too hot. Also, the cycling thermostat, which is responsible for regulating proper dryer temperature. And also the high limit thermostat, which is a safety switch similar to the thermal fuse designed to open if it senses that the dryer is becoming too hot. All of these components are held in place by a few ¼” screws and are described in greater detail in the “Troubleshooting Heating Problems” article.
Next we’re going to remove the blower housing located at the left of the dryer if you’re looking at it from behind. This is also attached with a few ¼” screws.
You should also notice that the two Phillips head screws we removed earlier attach the top of the housing to the dryer top. So if you did drop those screws, the bottom of this section would be the best place to start looking. This blower actually sucks strangely enough. It pulls air into itself from the drum through this housing and out through the dryer’s duct. As it pulls air from the drum, a low pressure area is created.
This effect creates the wind that will draw the heat generated by the burner into the drum to dry your clothing. Air flow is crucially important if the dryer is to heat properly. For more information on air flow and troubleshooting heating related problems check out the “Troubleshooting Heating Related Problems” article in this series