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Dryer Trips Breaker

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I'm a real novice at this, bear with me. My dryer recently started blowing cold air only, so I took

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-29-2009, 01:23 AM
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Question Dryer Trips Breaker
Model Number: 86874100   Brand: Kenmore   Age: More than 10 years   

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I'm a real novice at this, bear with me.

My dryer recently started blowing cold air only, so I took the heating element to a local appliance store and they told me I needed to replace the thermal cutoff. I did that, hooked everything back up exactly but now when I push start the breaker trips. I also noticed that the element is always on, even when not running. I checked it to make sure none of the coils were touching the case causing it to ground. I then unplugged the two wires that connect to the element and the dryer ran fine. If I plug them back up again it trips. What's wrong?


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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-29-2009, 02:55 AM
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If I plug them back up again it trips. What's wrong?
Sounds to me like a grounded element. You cannot always find the short visually re: a cracked insulator etc.
Check it with a meter.
Unplug the unit and remove both wires from the heating element.
Measure the element usually around 10 ohms.
Then check each heater connector to the frame, both should be infinite ohms.
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Old 11-29-2009, 03:41 AM
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That's one thing I do need, a meter.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:40 AM
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If you do not own a meter, I would suggest you purchase a one. You can get a decent digital multimeter for under $20.00. You do not need fancy though it is nice if the leads are a couple feet long.
If it saves ordering one unnecessary part it has paid for itself and you end up owning a useful tool.
Most places will not let you return electrical parts so if you order it, you own it.
A couple things to watch when measuring ohms and continuity
1. Always remove power from the machine otherwise you could blow your meter.
2. Always disconnect at least one side of any device you are checking. This eliminates the possibility of measuring an alternate/parallel circuit path.
3. When checking for closed contacts and continuity use the lowest scale (Usually 200 ohms). Then try higher scales. This scale is 0 to 200 ohms so if the device you are measuring is 300 ohms this scale would show an open circuit which it is not, you are just measuring outside the scale's dynamic range.

There is a good STICKY at the start of this forum about it's use.

NOTE: I use mine constantly around the house and in the garage.
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:48 AM
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I will go purchase a multimeter, but one quick observation. The heating element has two wires that plug into it at the bottom, which I suppose run from the motor. If I only plug the one on the left in, the dryer will run and the heating element will shut off as long as it's on the "OFF" position. When I plug both up, it trips the breaker.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:46 AM
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Usually one side of the heater goes to a centrifugal switch on the motor and then to one side of the line. This switch closes when the motor is rotating and provides the heater with power. It is there to ensure that the heater does not get hot without air blowing over it.

The other side goes through the thermostats and a set of timer contacts to the other side of the line. Completing the 240 volt circuit.

I cannot really say what is going on here.
Note if the centrifugal switch contacts are welded together or the mechanism on the motor which closes the switch is not resetting, the heater will get power whenever the unit is plugged in other than at Off. But this should not blow your breaker.
It will regulate the temperature using the hi-limit thermostat, till this thermostat's contacts weld together and then it will blow the thermal fuse.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:10 AM
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I think I've discovered the culprit but not sure what to do. I'll try to explain this as best that I can.

If I hook everything up to the element but sit it on the floor the dryer runs fine. The element doesn't heat up until I push start and everything runs like normal.

When I seat the top of the element into the hole that leads into the drum and then turn it on, boom tripped breaker. I'm so perplexed.

The cage that holds the element appears to be in good condition and I don't notice anything strange on the opening to the tumbler. This has to be what's grounding it though right?
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Old 11-29-2009, 01:28 PM
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This has to be what's grounding it though right?

Yes it does sound like the element is grounded to the heater case.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:02 PM
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Do I need a new heater case? Why would it only do it when angled up into the dryer?
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Old 11-30-2009, 01:25 AM
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Do I need a new heater case?
I could not find the parts for your unit using the given model number. I looks like it is short at least 3 numbers. But on most units you would need a new heater assembly.

Why would it only do it when angled up into the dryer?

Because when it touches the machine frame it completes the circuit as the frame is grounded back to the electrical panel.
When hanging loose it is floating and the case becomes live but there is no where for the current to go.
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