Gas and electric dryers use heat to remove moisture from your clothes. A dryer’s cycling thermostat helps regulate its temperature and harness thermal power by turning the heat on and off as needed. This keeps the dryer from overheating or delivering too little warmth to get the job done.
When your dryer isn’t working properly, it is often difficult to know the exact cause. Diagnosing and fixing the problem is usually best left to a professional because of the electrical systems and gas lines involved. However, you can take steps to troubleshoot and check for a faulty thermostat yourself.
What Does a Dryer Cycling Thermostat Do?
A dryer cycling thermostat monitors and controls the temperature inside your dryer while it’s operating. This thermostat has an electrical circuit that is usually closed, allowing electricity to flow through it freely and deliver power to the heating element.
As your dryer heats up, the thermostat opens and interrupts the electrical connection to the dryer’s heat source. This allows the heating element and the air inside the dryer to cool down.
When the dryer drum’s temperature drops, it causes the thermostat to re-close and re-energize the dryer’s heat source.
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What Happens if My Dryer Thermostat Is Bad?
It is the repeated on-and-off cycling of the heat that keeps your dryer temperature in an appropriate range. If the thermostat isn’t making the necessary connection to complete the circuit and power the heating element, you may notice the following:
- The drum spins, but the air inside does not heat up
- Your dryer will sound like it’s working, but when it stops, your clothes are still wet
On the other hand, a faulty thermostat may have a constant connection that is not broken when the temperature reaches higher levels. In this case, the dryer’s heating element will stay on too long, and you may encounter the dryer:
- Overheating and becoming a fire hazard
- Turning itself off before the programmed time is up
The cycling thermostat also regulates the timer on some models, so a dryer that won’t turn off on its own could also be a sign of a defective thermostat. If you observe any of these signs, you should test your cycling thermostat to find out if it needs to be replaced.
How Do I Test My Dryer Cycling Thermostat?
To test your dryer’s cycling thermostat yourself, you will need to first gather some basic tools. This includes a Phillips screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, and a digital multimeter.
- Disconnect your dryer’s electrical supply: Even gas appliances use electricity for some of their functions. Before delving into your dryer’s inner workings, be sure to remove the electrical plug from the wall outlet or turn off power at your home’s breaker box.
- Open the rear access panel: Slide your dryer forward and away from the wall so you can reach the access panel on the back. This is a square or rectangular piece of metal that is held in place with screws. Use your screwdriver to remove the screws, and then carefully pull off the panel.
- Find your dryer’s thermostat: With the panel removed, you will see the wheel housing and dryer vents inside. Here you should see a small round or oval-shaped component that is about 1.5 inches in diameter. It may have a label printed with identifying words or numbers.
- Visually inspect the thermostat: Take a closer look at the thermostat and its label. If either appears charred, you will need to have your thermostat replaced. If they appear in good condition, continue to the next steps to check the thermostat’s electrical function.
- Locate and label wires: There should be two wires that connect the thermostat to the dryer’s heating element. They’ll be attached to the thermostat using metal slip connectors. Label these wires to assist with reconnection later.
- Remove the wires from the terminals: Be careful to pull the wires off the terminals by gripping the connectors. Do not pull on the wires themselves! If the connection is too tight to do this by hand, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers.
- Measure the thermostat’s electrical flow: Set your multimeter to read ohms. Some devices also call this RX1 or X1. Touch the probes onto the wire terminals and check the reading. At room temperature, a good thermostat will read 0. If the readout says infinity instead, your thermostat will need to be replaced.
What Causes Dryer Thermostat Failure?
The components in any appliance, including your dryer, will wear out eventually just because of normal wear and tear and the passage of time. However, certain conditions can also work to accelerate this process.
For example, a thermostat will fail sooner under the following circumstances:
- There is a wire in the system that is frayed or exposed.
- Excessive heat triggers a thermal fuse to blow. Typically, this is a good thing for your dryer; however, every time a fuse blows, it could affect your thermostat, shortening its lifespan.
Call Top Shelf Services to Check Your Thermostat
If you think there may be a problem with your dryer cycling thermostat, give Top Shelf Services a call. We’ll test your thermostat for you and let you know if it needs to be replaced. And as always, when you hire us for your dryer repair there is no charge for this diagnostic visit.
Contact us now for same-day or next day service. We are a locally owned and customer-centered business, and we’ll get your dryer working again — guaranteed!
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