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Dryer Doesn't Dry Well - Sometimes It's Not the Vent


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#1 Jerry Bear

Jerry Bear

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:37 AM

I have learned a great deal from this forum, so I'll pass on some knowledge that I gained from experience.

If you have a clothes dryer that doesn't get the clothes dry in one cycle, the first place to look is the vent. As the experts here will tell you, usually that problem is caused by a clogged vent hose. But, sometimes the problem is more interesting:

Case 1: Montgomery Ward/Admiral Electric Dryer

Complaint was that the clothes don't get dry in one cycle any more.

I checked the outside vent outlet: Not clogged. Good solid breeze out of it with dryer running.

Just to be safe, I pulled the vent hose off of the dryer and looked down it with a flashlight to the outside outlet. Not clogged. Vent hose not too long. The dryer backed up to an outside wall, so the hose was very short.

Looked up the vent outlet of the dryer with the flashlight. Not clogged.

Pulled the front off of the dryer and pulled the front off of the front vent duct (You should be able to find instructions to open your dryer elsewhere on this forum or at the old forum, http://www.applianceguru.com). Duct and blower wheel not clogged. Blower wheel firmly attached to motor shaft (On these dryers, the motor shaft sometimes rounds out the "D" shaped hole in the plastic blower wheel so that the motor turns faster than the blower wheel.).

Noticed that I could see light around the dryer's front door where it sat closed in the front of the dryer. There's the problem. It needed a new door gasket. If the dryer pulls in room air around the door, it isn't pulling enough air over the heating element and through the clothes. A bad door gasket can also cause the thermal fuse to blow after a while.

Replaced the door gasket, but now the dryer door kept popping open, particularly when it was running. I leaned a 50 pound bag of dog food against the door to hold it closed, restarted the dryer, and went to buy a new door latch. The door latch was not needed. If you use the dog food trick (or something similar), the gasket will compress after a few days and the door will stay closed.

Case 2: GE Electric Dryer:

Complaint: The clothes don't get dry in one cycle any more.

I checked the outside vent with the dryer running and found a good breeze. No problem there.

Opened the door of the dryer while it was running (that stopped the dryer, as it should) and looked inside. I could see an orange glow from the heating element through the holes in the back of the drum. It shouldn't glow when the dryer blower isn't running.

Pushed in the door switch with my finger and restarted the dryer. Now the heating element was glowing and I could see part of it swinging back and forth. The heating element should not swing.

Now, a bit of electric knowledge: The electric feed to an electric dryer is two hot wires and a ground. The voltage between the hot wires is about 230 Volts. The voltage between a hot wire and ground is about 115 Volts. The ground is connected to the metal cabinet of the dryer.

The heating element is a long coil of wire. When the dryer is running, the ends of the heating element wire are connected to the hot wires, so the element has 230 Volts across it and glows

The element of this dryer broke somewhere in the middle. At the break, one end welded itself to the metal shroud, so it had 115 Volts across it and glowed. The other end flopped around in the breeze, making 115 Volt arcs to the shroud.

I replaced the heating element and fixed the dryer.

Also: This is an example of why electric ground wires (like the third pin on 115 Volt plugs and the ground wires inside appliances) are important. Some people disrespect them because the appliance often doesn't need them to work. However, had the ground not been properly connected on this dryer, the metal cabinet would have been at 115 Volts (through the partial heating element) and anyone who touched it would have received a shock.

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#2 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:57 AM

Nice writeup, Jerry! For sharing your battle wisdom with The School, you have earned a promotion to Merit Apprentice Appliantologist. Kanpai! :samurai:

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