Monday, July 4, 2011

Be the Handy Man - How to Replace the Motor on your Dryer

When the dryer stopped working after 8 years of service I was at a cross-roads.  I could ether have a technician come out and fix the dryer or I could replace it with a new one.  I didn't really have $500 bucks to spend on a new dryer, and sad as it may seem it was almost that much to have a technician come out and fix it. 

Instead I got on the Internet and started to do some research into dryer maintenance and how to troubleshoot a non-working dryer.  It wasn't very long (or hard) to figure out that the dryer wasn't working because of a bad motor.  To verify that this was the problem I was going to need to tear the dryer open and test the motor out.  Prior to this experience I always viewed the dryer as a complicated piece of machinery, but after opening the dryer case up and seeing the insides I realized this wasn't the case.  The dryer was surprisingly simple instead.  You have a motor attached to a belt that turns the drum.  There is also a heating element with a blower fan attached that spins by the motor that causes hot air to be drawn into the drum.  Plus a couple of safety devices and a timer switch to run the motor, that is pretty much the whole dryer.

The hardest part for me was figuring out how to get into the dryer itself. Lucky for me my dryer was a pretty common dryer and I was able to find some help online in doing so.

1. Turn off the power to your dryer. (VERY IMPORTANT). You can ether unplug the dryer, or turn off the breaker in the circuit breaker box for your home (It will be a double breaker switch because your dryer runs on 220v)

2. Remove the top side panels from the both sides of the control panel. They are a press fit and will pull off.

3. Removed the 2 screws under the end caps holding the control panel, and lift the control panel backwards (There are some plastic clips on the back that will act as a hinge)

4. Remove the 3 screws that were hidden by the control panel, and slide the top of the dryer forward towards you.

5. Take the wires off the door switch.

6. Remove the bottom front panel of the dryer. This is done by using a putty knife or a small flat head screwdriver and pressing down on the two clips which are at the top of the panel about 4 inches in from the side.

7. Press, on the clips and pull out on the panel, lift it off of the bottom clips.

8. Remove 2 screws holding front to top of the dryer.

9. Remove 2 screws below the door holding front to dryer.

10. Disengage the clamp holding the air duct to the blower housing.

11. Take the wire off the auto dry sensor.

12. Remove the front of the dryer.

Now with the front and top of the dryer removed you will be able to gain access the dryer drum, motor, and other parts that may need fixing.

  In order to get to the motor you will need to remove the dryers drum and belt.  First disengage the belt from the from the idler pulley, and then the belt from the motor pulley. To do this put both hands into the area of the motor and feel for the idler pulley, it is spring loaded, so simply pull the pulley until the tension in the belt is released. Take the belt off the motor pulley.

When the belt tension has been released and the belt is removed from the motor pulley, you can use it to pull the dryer drum from the dryer. Now is a good time to also replace the belt and the four rollers that support the drum.

It is also a very good idea to clean and vacuum out the dryer to prevent any dryer fires (caused by excessive lint built up)

The motor is attached to the housing of the dryer by four screws, as well as the blower.  In order to remove the blower from the motor you will need to hold the pulley end of the motor shaft to get the blower off.
Using a 1/2 inch socket extension will fit right into the center of the blower. On the other end of the motor shaft a 1/2 socket will hold the shaft in place while you loosen the blower. Turn the ratchet clockwise to loosen the blower wheel. (Reverse to tighten)

Once the blower is off, and the screws are removed.  Remove the wire harness from the motor and swap it out with the new motor.

Follow these steps in reverse order to put the dryer back together.  I find it always helpful to take picture along the way for reference in case (especially when dealing with wires) I don't remember where things go.
Since replacing the motor in my dryer I have also needed to replace the heating element, and thermal cut off fuse. You can follow these steps to get to those parts as well.

It always surprises me how much easier things are to repair then we think, and in the process I have saved hundreds of dollars by doing the work myself. Nothing makes you feel like a man more than taking something that was broken and making it work again.

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