Kenmore is a Sears-owned appliance brand. However, with the recent turmoil at Sears, the brand itself is no longer in production. While you may not be able to go out and buy a new Kenmore appliance such as a dryer, you can buy replacement parts for any current appliance you already own. So, if you're running into problems with your Kenmore dryer not heating, don't worry, as you will be able to correct this issue. In this article, we'll help you learn more about your Kenmore dryer not heating and the troubleshooting steps to take.

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Kenmore Dryer Not Heating: Troubleshooting 101

an old model of kenmore washing machiner and dryer

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org

One of the most common problems you'll run into when it comes to your dryer is it not heating up. This is because there are a number of culprits behind the problem. Should you discover this is happening you can correct it by following a handful of Kenmore dryer not heating up troubleshooting steps. These steps are relatively easy to follow, and some you may be able to perform without picking up any replacement parts.


There are several troubleshooting steps you'll need to follow, as the cause of your Kenmore dryer not heating up can vary. Some of these steps might change based on the exact model you have. A Kenmore dryer from two years ago will run a little differently from a dryer made 10 years ago, although the process will be similar (the bigger difference will be if you have a stack dryer versus a stand-alone dryer, as the location of some parts will be higher on the stacked appliances).

The Basics

You should always start with the basics. This is where you look into the utility connections. Double-check to make sure the cord is still plugged into the local outlet. If the washing machine is receiving power, but the dryer isn't, you know the circuit hasn't been tripped and the outlet still works. However, if the washing machine isn't working, then go check the circuit breaker and reset the circuit.

You'll also want to look at the gas line running into the appliance. If you smell gas, there is a gas leak, and it isn't connected correctly. You should have a natural gas detector within your utility room for exactly this reason and an alarm will sound if it detects any natural gas in the air. Connecting the gas line is important but you should also contact a professional if the smell remains. Additionally, if you don't have a natural gas detector in the room, purchase one now and avoid running any appliance or electrical device (including the furnace) in the room until no natural gas is detected.

You should clean out the dryer lint trap and also remove the vent on the rear of the appliance and clean it out. Some dryers may not run if the lint trap is full. Remember, always clear out the lint trap and the cubby the trap is nestled into after every drying cycle. Doing so prevents issues such as this while also reducing the chance of a fire starting from overheated lint.

Beyond the Basics

If the Kenmore dryer not heating up issue remains, you'll need to continue with the other common causes and solutions. In these instances, you'll likely need to obtain a replacement part once you've discovered the exact problem. Should you find you're still unable to identify the problem after following the troubleshooting steps, you'll need to bring in a professional to inspect the appliance. They can tell you what's wrong, what it will cost, and whether it's a better idea to just replace your Kenmore.

Common Causes & Solutions

Now that you've completed the initial inspection and you still haven't found the reason why the appliance isn't heating up, you'll want to follow these steps. You will need to have both a flathead and Philips screwdriver on hand for this as it does require some removal of panels on the rear of the appliance.

Checking the Thermal Fuse

This is a safety element installed into the dryer to prevent it from overheating. The inside of a dryer can reach well over 150 degrees Fahrenheit (especially on larger, newer models). The fuse prevents it from getting any hotter. The fuse will be found along the heating element when working with an electric dryer, or it is right at the burner when on a gas model. You should check with the owner's manual for the exact location of your particular thermal fuse.

When accessing the fuse it should be one solid piece. However, if the fuse has blown, the fuse will look like it has been cut into two pieces. It likely will be a little black around the edges as well. Should you find a damaged fuse you'll need to replace it. A damaged fuse also means the vent is likely backed up and dirty as hot air is not allowed to flow out of the appliance. So make sure you clean out (or even replace) the vent running from the dryer and clean out the lint trap.

Gas Valve Solenoid

If you have an electric dryer you don't need to look into this. However, if you have a gas dryer you'll have at least two gas valve solenoid coils (some dryers will have more). This allows gas to flow into the burner assembly. It controls the amount of gas so the dryer doesn't catch on fire or overheat. Should the solenoids fail, the dryer won't receive the gas and the appliance won't heat up.

You want to check the igniter (again, look to your owner's manual to see the exact location of the igniter). If the igniter does not burn but only glows it means you have a bad valve solenoid. Additionally, if the gas valve coils are black or damaged, you'll need to replace these as well. Thankfully, you can check both the igniter and the coils at the same time, so this knocks out two troubleshooting steps at once.

Flame Sensor

When using a gas dryer (this is not found on electrical dryers) there is a flame sensor that detects the flame created. If the sensor is no longer working the dryer will automatically no longer create a flame to heat the dryer. This is done as a safety measure so the flame doesn't become too large and start a fire.

The flame sensor runs off of an electrical current, so the best way to test if the flame sensor is working or if you've identified the problem is to use a multimeter. If there is no current running through the part, you know you've found what is causing the dryer to not heat up.

Heating Element

The heating element inside of the dryer warms the air before the air is pushed into the dryer drum. The heating element burning out is a more common problem, especially if you have had the dryer for some time. It simply burns out. The best way to test this is to use a multimeter. If you don't have one of these devices in your toolbox, you should pick one up. It's a great tool to have on hand should you have problems with electrical outlets. You can even use it on your car battery. If there is no electrical continuity on the part, you'll need to replace it.

While you're looking at the element, you can look at the assembly as well. The element is part of the assembly, so check the assembly. You might find the problem is actually with the assembly and not the element (although the issue could be with both).

Tips for Preventative Maintenance

The most important maintenance tip you need to follow is cleaning out the lint trap after every time you use the dryer. Beyond this, you need to inspect the dryer vent from time to time and clean it out to avoid lint build up as well. After a few times of cleaning the vent, you'll identify how often you need to inspect it.

You should avoid over-stuffing the dryer. Over-stuffing the dryer puts extra stress on it. It also makes it difficult to dry all your clothes at once and will require you to run the appliance several times in a row. You should also avoid extra-heavy items, such as rugs. The extra heavy items will toss around the dryer and cause it to rock. This may damage the spinning mechanisms within the dryer and, in the end, cost you several hundred dollars to fix it.

Using of these preventative maintenance tips, your appliance should be fine and you won't run into the Kenmore dryer not heating up problem as frequently.

Conclusion

When you have a Kenmore dryer, the worst thing that can happen is the dryer not heating up. Without the heating element the dryer is useless, so you need to check it out. While Kenmore the brand is no longer manufacturing products, you're still able to obtain replacement parts. By following this troubleshooting guide for a Kenmore dryer not heating up, you'll be able to identify and correct most heating issues you run into with your dryer.

Featured Image: CC BY 2.0, Bart Everson, via Flickr.com