DIY: How to Replace Your Dryer’s Heating Element

heating element

Replacing this part fixed my dryer.

Last week my clothes dryer stopped heating. The dryer tumbler would work just fine, but there was no heat in the dryer and so the clothes would not dry. This is one of the most common problems with dryers, so I thought it made for a good DIY post. The following is a quick guide to how I diagnosed the problem with my Kenmore 70 Series dryer and how I made the fix for less than $100.

Not having a working dryer is one of those inconveniences that will have you quickly looking for a solution. Line drying clothes is a chore (especially when it’s raining), and carrying baskets of wet clothes to someone else’s house isn’t fun. Luckily I was able to solve the problem without purchasing another dryer.

Based on my initial troubleshooting research, when the electric dryer is not heating it’s usually one of these problems:

  • Exhaust is limited or blocked
  • Breaker is thrown
  • Heating element is broken
  • Other break in wiring connections

I checked my exhaust, both behind the dryer unit, and at the outside vent, and all looked good. Air was freely flowing out of the dryer.

Next, I checked the breaker box for a thrown breaker switch. Since the dryer unit runs on 220, the tumbler could still be working (one have of the breaker) while the other half (heating) could be thrown. I switched off the breaker for 10 seconds and then turned it back on. This wasn’t the problem either.

Frustrated that I’d have to open up the back of the dryer unit to investigate further, I took the rest of the afternoon off.

The next day I opened the back of the dryer unit, being sure to unplug the dryer first. I found this video on YouTube which shows how to remove the back of the Kenmore 70 series dryer and remove the heating element. It was certainly easier than I’d imagined.

After removing the heating element I initially wasn’t sure if it was the problem. But then I inspected the coils on the heating element and there it was – a small break in the coil. The break was preventing the current from flowing through the unit and heating up.

heating element broken coil

The culprit – broken heating element coil.

My next step was to call Sears (where we purchased the dryer seven years ago) and see if they had a replacement part. Sears directed me to one of their parts centers. To find your local Sears parts center call 1-800-488-1222. Part centers will be able to look for your part number if you give them the model number of your dryer, so have that handy when you call.

I called the parts center and confirmed they had the part in stock. It cost $65. This was about double online prices for the part (before shipping), but I decided to get it anyway since it was an authentic Sears part, I was tired of waiting, and we are going out of town soon.

Replacing the part was a cinch. The dryer is back up and running 100%. I’m hoping to get several more years out of the unit. So glad I didn’t have to spend several hundred dollars on a new unit or wait for a service person to come to the house.

If you have a Kenmore 70 series dryer I hope this guide helps you diagnose the problem and get it fixed quickly. And if you have a different dryer I hope this encourages you to take the repair into your own hands and save yourself some cash.

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Last Edited: April 30, 2013 @ 4:04 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

4 comments
DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

Nice work PT.  DIY is definitely the best solution if you know what you are doing.  Luckily, Youtube is out there to help those that might not understand it.

Ca$hFunny
Ca$hFunny

Awesome job!  Hopefully I'll never have to do something like this, but I now know it's possible if our dryer goes out.  Thanks for the steps!

Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor moderator

@DebtRoundUp Thanks! Yes, thankfully Youtube is around. It totally gives me confidence to see other people/companies educating folks. That's why I'm passing my experience along as well. Hopefully someone else will benefit down the road.