Every dryer made since the 1980s has a thermal fuse, so unless you're working with an appliance from the 1970s or before then your dryer has one, too. This fuse prevents overheating that can create a fire, so it's truly a necessary part of any dryer. However, this fuse may stop functioning. When that happens, it doesn't always mean the fuse is blown out. How do you know if your dryer's thermal fuse is blown? With a little research and troubleshooting, you can find out in minutes.
What's a Dryer Thermal Fuse?
A dryer's thermal fuse is designed to keep the appliance from overheating. It works by stopping the electricity flow to the dryer before it can get to the heating element. This keeps the heating element from burning out or shorting out. It also keeps a fire from starting in the appliance, so you can see how important this little fuse is.
When the thermal fuse isn't working properly, your dryer may not get hot at all or it may not be getting hot enough. However, a fuse that won't heat the dryer isn't necessarily blown out. Don’t assume the fuse needs to be replaced right away. Troubleshoot and test the fuse first to find out.
First, unplug your dryer and make sure it's no longer getting power so that you can safely check the fuse. Test the power to ensure the dryer will not come on. Turning off a switch isn't enough. Make sure you unplug the dryer completely so you can work safely. If you still have your user manual, use this to find out where the thermal fuse is located in the dryer. You don't want to go poking around for the fuse and potentially damage something else!
If you haven't got the user's manual, no worries. Go online and look it up here. There will be a model number clearly displayed somewhere on your dryer, so it shouldn't be too difficult to locate the owner's manual online and find out where the thermal fuse is located this way.
When you know how to find the fuse, remove the access panel as needed so you can get a look at it. You may need a screwdriver to do this. The thermal fuse is very small, about one to two inches long. It's probably shaped like a cylinder and has wires attached to it. You can disconnect these wires by gently pulling them away from the fuse. Once the fuse is free, you can test it with a multimeter. This tool can tell you whether or not a fuse is blown. The multimeter has an indicator that will show you whether or not the fuse is still functioning properly.
Replacing the Fuse
If your fuse is blown out, don't bother reconnecting that busted fuse. Take it with you when you go buy a new fuse so you can get an exact match. Make sure the fuse you buy is compatible with your dryer make and model.
Keep the dryer disconnected from its power source when you place the new fuse inside and reconnected the wires. Next, close the access panel and test your dryer to make sure it's heating up normally again.
Fixing the Issue
If your dryer’s thermal fuse is not blown out but you are having a problem with the way the dryer is functioning, you will need to call a repair professional to diagnose and fix the problem. Luckily, you can tell the repair person that you’ve already checked and tested the thermal fuse and save them one step in their diagnostic process. That might save you a little money!
There are some things you can diagnose and repair yourself when it comes to your dryer, but other issues are far more complicated and require some professional knowledge, tools and experience. If you can’t figure out why your dryer isn’t working properly and the thermal fuse is still good, don’t attempt to poke around and look for problems. Get expert help and get your dryer working again.