There are a number of safety features built directly into your dryer. Due to the extreme level of heat the dryer is capable of producing you don't want it running without any safety nets. Otherwise, you run the risk of a house fire. The dryer thermal fuse is one such safety feature. However, should it fail the entire appliance will not run. Due to this, you need to know how to troubleshoot the dryer thermal fuse and also how to replace it should it stop working.
WHAT IS A THERMAL FUSE?
The dryer thermal fuse is a very small element built within your dryer. If you were to take the dryer apart and not pay attention to the inner workings of the appliance, you'd easily miss it. The dryer thermal fuse itself monitors the airflow of the dryer. Should the air flow fall below a designated level, it means there is likely a clog somewhere within the dryer (or the connected vent running outside the rear of the dryer). In order to prevent you from trying to continue using the appliance and possibly start a fire, the dryer thermal fuse will trip.
If the dryer thermal fuse trips it doesn't mean it has blown. There is a difference. Similar to when a circuit trips within your home, it doesn't mean you've completely blown out a fuse. It just means you need to reset the fuse and then correct the problem that is causing everything. In the case of a dryer thermal fuse, the problem is with a dirty dryer and connected vent.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR DRYER THERMAL FUSE IS BLOWN
You will need to access the dryer thermal fuse before you know for sure whether the fuse is blown. You will need to disconnect the appliance's vent tubing from its rear. You may need to unplug the appliance in order to turn it around so you can gain access to this area of the dryer. However, you will need to plug it back in to test it.
Once you have the vent removed, you'll want to take off the back panel of the appliance. This can be done with a screwdriver. When you take the cover off, you'll see a series of wires strung together. The wires will connect to a small attachment on the edge of the metal. It will be about an inch or an inch and a half in size. This is the dryer thermal fuse. The two wires will plug into the fuse.
If the fuse is just tripped, the wires may not be connected to the fuse. However, if the fuse has blown, you'll see the fuse will be cracked, black, and damaged. Even though you may never have seen the fuse before you will be able to know immediately that it is damaged.
Just to tell for sure it is a good idea to have a multimeter on hand. This is a small device that detects if there is an electrical current flowing through something. It is a helpful device you can use with electrical outlets, home appliances, and even car batteries. With so many uses for the device, you should pick one up and keep it in your toolbox as you'll likely need to use it again.
By connecting the multimeter directly to the dryer thermal fuse you'll know whether there is an electrical current running through it or not. If there isn't an electrical current, you'll need to replace it.
HOW TO REPLACE: STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Once you know you need to replace the dryer thermal fuse, you will need to follow this basic guide for replacing it and for prepping the dryer for use again. Make sure to follow all of these steps otherwise you run the risk of blowing the next dryer thermal fuse you install, which will continue on until you fix the actual problem causing the blown fuse.
CLEAN OUT THE DRYER
Begin by removing all the clothing or anything else you have within the dryer. Now take out the lint trap and clean this out. Be sure to remove all the lint from within the trap, and then clean out the pocket holding the lint trap. There's a good chance you'll collect lint from within the door or other panel where the trap is located.
You'll also need to clean out the vent running from the rear of the dryer to the wall. This will collect lint over time, and while it takes longer to collect lint (as long as you're cleaning the lint trap after every cycle) chances are you may have never cleaned out the vent in the first place.
Disconnect the vent tubing from the rear of the appliance. If it is dirty, you can clean it out with a vent cleaning brush (which you'll find at any home improvement store). You don't want to use just any brush as then you'll run the risk of ripping or tearing it.
Should the tubing fail to clean correctly, or if it is beyond the point of being easily cleaned, you can replace it for only a few dollars. Dryer vent tubing is inexpensive and can be purchased from most local home improvement stores. You can also find it at stores like Walmart and Target. Just make sure to pick up the right size, otherwise, you might buy something that is too wide and will not fit back into place.
Once you have everything cleaned out, you can begin with the actual replacement process of the dryer thermal fuse.
BUYING THE REPLACEMENT FUSE
You'll want to write down the make and model number of your dryer. This way, you know for sure you're buying the right fuse to replace the damaged one. You can go to an appliance parts store and pick up a replacement fuse. You can also order this online. However, if you're ordering the part online make sure it comes from a reputable source and not from a third party in China. Often, the parts that are cheaply made in China are not to the same specifications of what your actual appliance needs.
Due to this, you should never buy any kind of electrical component for your appliance, cell phone, tablet, video camera, or any other device from an online third-party. While it might seem like a good deal to save a few dollars, you run the risk of damaging the entire appliance which will cost far more than the few dollars you would have saved.
REPLACING THE FUSE
With the new dryer thermal fuse on hand, you can begin the replacement. You will need to take the rear panel off the rear of the dryer. As you've already tested the previous fuse, you will already know how to take the panel off.
The fuse can be easily removed with a single screwdriver. Remove the screw and disconnect the two wires running into the fuse. Don't worry about remembering which connection point the wires plugged into as it doesn't matter how you plug the wires back in.
Take the replacement fuse and insert it back into the original location. Now, tighten the screw back into position. Just make sure not to over-tighten the fuse, otherwise, you run the risk of breaking it (and having to order another one).
With the new fuse in place, connect the wires back into the fuse, then place the rear panel into position and secure it. Connect the vent tubing to the dryer and place it back into the correct location. Make sure the vent is not bent or crimped when you move the dryer back into position. If the vent is bent, it will reduce air flow from the dryer which can cause future dryer thermal fuse blowouts as well. You always want to maintain the best airflow possible.
Now, turn the appliance on and run a cycle. You won't have any other problems with your appliance. If, for some reason you do, there is another issue at hand you cannot easily troubleshoot. In this case, you'll need to call your local appliance repair specialist and have them look at the appliance to see what is going on with it.
The dryer thermal fuse is a small component of your dryer. Overall, it is just an inch or so in size and is attached to an inner metal wall of your appliance. However, if the fuse blows the entire dryer will stop working. Due to this, you need to know how to correct it. If the fuse has tripped, you may be able to connect the wires back into place, clean out the dryer of lint, and it will return back to normal.
If the fuse has blown, you will need to replace it in order to restore the functionality to the dryer. Thankfully, all you need to do is purchase a replacement part, which should cost just a few dollars, and from there swap it in for the old, blown component.