Most major appliances have fail-safes built in to prevent catastrophic electrical issues. The last thing you want is a power surge to completely destroy expensive devices like a refrigerator or washing machine. That's exactly what a dryer has. An electric dryer has a built-in dryer thermal fuse. The fuse is there to prevent a surge of electricity from reaching the inner workings of the appliance. This way, if too much electricity charges into the appliance, the fuse will blow, preventing substantial damage to your device. Instead, you'll just need to replace the dryer thermal fuse. 

Troubleshooting 101

washing machine and dryer

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Replacing the dryer thermal fuse isn't a challenging task. While it will require you to get down onto the ground and take apart some of the paneling of your dryer, it's far better to be stuck doing this than buying a brand new dryer. Of course, you'll want to know whether you really do need to replace the dryer thermal fuse or if there is another problem at work.

General Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting the dryer shouldn't take long. First, if you had an electrical surge in the neighborhood (such as lightning striking a local converter or power line) you probably have other damaged electronics. If this is the case, you don't need to troubleshoot the appliance at all.

However, if you didn't have a sudden surge of electricity, you'll need to test the appliance. First, check the circuit breaker in your home. Look to see if the utility room has tripped. If it has, flip it back off and on, then test it out to see if your appliance is working. If it isn't but other appliances are working, you know the issue is with the appliance.

Checking the Fuse

You'll need to check the fuse. If power isn't reaching the appliance, you will want to look into the dryer thermal fuse before ordering a new one. It's best to check your owner's manual, (you can find this online through the manufacturer's website if you don't have it) so you know exactly where it's at. Typically, the dryer thermal fuse is found behind the rear panel of the dryer.

By removing the rear panel you must inspect the fuse. The fuse is a clear, glass-like tube (it's not as large as the fuses used in older home electrical systems, but you shouldn't have a problem seeing it). If the glass is black, completely broken, or if the metal element inside the fuse is cut in the middle, it means the fuse is damaged, and you'll need to replace it.

Tools & Supplies

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The dryer thermal fuse replacement process doesn't take long at all. It also doesn't require much in the way of tools or replacement parts. You will need to purchase a replacement thermal fuse for your particular dryer. If you go into a local appliance parts store, make sure you have your make and model numbers handy. If you're ordering it online, only buy parts from a reliable retailer. Do not buy a cheap part from a third-party outlet (such as a cheap part off of Shopify). Electrical elements from cheap third-party outlets often are not designed specifically for the electrical requirements of your appliance, and these parts may end up causing you more damage than just a damaged fuse.

The tools you'll end up needing may vary slightly depending on the exact model you have. However, in general, you'll need the following:

  • 1/4" Nut driver
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Slot screwdriver

As you're working on the back side of your dryer, now is a good time to clean out the area and remove the collected dust and lint. Debris inside the rear panel can lead to electrical problems and blowing fuses. It's also a fire hazard if you have lint collecting in the rear of your appliance, which is why it's a good time to clean out the area. Beyond this though, you don't need the vacuum cleaner (you may want to pick up a duct cleaning brush to clear collected lint out of the duct running from the back of your dryer as well).

How to Replace the Dryer Thermal Fuse

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Whenever you're working on appliance repair, it is always important to take the necessary precautions and not only turn off the device but disconnect it from any electrical source. Also, make sure you have plenty of light at your disposal so you can see what you're doing. There are several wires running in the dryer's rear, so you need to know what you're working on.

Removing the Panel

With the power off, to begin the dryer thermal fuse removal and replacement process, you'll need to remove the back panel on your dryer. You will see a metal panel that stands out from the rest of the white (or black) metal body. With this, you'll likely need the 1/4 inch nut driver to remove the screws.

It helps to use a small bag to collect the screws. You're probably working in a tight space, so having screws disappear or roll under the appliance is possible. The bag will keep it all safe. Remove the back panel to gain access to the internal workings of the dryer.

Removing the Fuse

You will see a white attachment (likely a little more than an inch long) connected inside of the panel. There are also several cables running to it. It's a good idea to check your owner's manual for the exact placement of the fuse, so you know where to look. Disconnect the wires from the fuse. These will probably slide off easily (there are two wires connected to the fuse).

You will now need to remove the fuse. The fuse is screwed onto the interior of the panel. Use the quarter inch nut driver again on this nut. In some instances, you might have a different screw or nut type, so having other sizes and a Philips screwdriver on hand is beneficial. The quarter inch nut is just the most common size you'll likely run into.

Installing the New Fuse

With the old fuse out, place the new fuse back into position. Make sure it is installed in the same direction as the old fuse (you'll probably be able to see a slight discoloration or guidelines where the old fuse was, so installing the new fuse in the same location shouldn't be an issue).
Use the nut driver to secure the fuse back into position. Just make sure you don't over tighten, otherwise, you run the risk of stripping the screw.

Now, connect the wires back into position. Don't worry about which wire went where. It doesn't matter which order you plug the wires back in. With the wires attached and secured, you're done with the actual dryer thermal fuse installation.

Now, attach the back panel to the rear of the dryer. Lightly insert one screw at a time until you have the panel in place, then tighten the screws. As with the fuse, don't over tighten the screws.

Plugging In and Rear Maintenance

Now that you're done with the rear panel, you'll want to plug the dryer back into the power outlet. While you're working on the rear of the dryer, you should take the opportunity to clean out the vent duct. Chances are you haven't cleaned out the duct in some time, and it can probably use a general cleaning.

Loosen the attachment around the vent connected to the rear of the dryer. You might need a flathead screwdriver for this, or you might be able to hand-twist it loose. With the vent disconnected, take your vacuum cleaner's hose attachment and clean out the dryer's rear vent. You should also vacuum out the tubing. If it is especially corroded, you should use a vent brush to clean it out. You can also replace the dryer vent tubing. Replacement tubing costs only a few dollars and is available at most large retail outlets (such as Walmart or Target).

​Test Your Dryer

Now you have everything cleaned out and the dryer thermal fuse installed, the dryer should power back on. In fact, with the cleaned out vent, it may work more efficiently now as you'll have an improved airflow running around the clothes while the appliance is in use.

Make sure to monitor the dryer. If the fuse blows out again in a short period of time, there is likely another problem going on with the dryer, and you should bring in a service professional.

Conclusion

cat on dryer

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Replacing the dryer thermal fuse isn't difficult. You should be able to replace the fuse in about 30 minutes once you have the replacement part on hand. When you order the replacement part, or when you go into a local appliance store to buy a replacement, make sure you know the exact make and model number of your appliance. This way, you know you're ordering the right fuse. The last thing you want is to order the wrong fuse and be without your dryer for a few weeks.