Two things rapidly became apparent.
Firstly the soft plastic kick plate was hiding the fact that our dryer had obviously taken a hit at some stage before we received it from the store 5 years ago. There was a dent in the bottom of the front panel of the dryer body - not an issue you would think but the ducting inside the dryer that leads to the fan seals against this panel - the dent was causing it to leak warm air everywhere inside the cabinet!! A little persuasion with a hammer and a block of 2x4 sorted that out..
Maybe it was a side effect of the dent leakage but when I removed the drum it revealed the main source of our problems. Air circulates through the dryer by suction - air is pulled into the drum through the lint filter in the door (which leads to that leaky duct). It gets into the drum through holes in the back of the drum. Those holes are contained in a big circular metal duct formed in the rear panel of the appliance that is connected to the drum with a big gasket - at the top of that circle is where the air flows in over the heater coils - it gets to those coils by air just circulating inside the cabinet coming in through vents in the sides of the appliance Whether it was recirculating air from the dented cabinet or just bad design, that entire circular duct was packed solid with dust and heaven knows what else binding it together. Cleaned it all out and did as the Sensei recommends and checked the resistance on those heater coils for good measure. New belt and all is good.
The good news - the dryer is actually working better than when we bought it - dryer time is halved and the sensor mode works properly at long last !!! From now on we have strict instructions not only to keep that lint filter clean but make sure the area around the dryer is kept clear of lint, fluff etc !
- Samurai Appliance Repair Man likes this