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Kenmore Dryer Repair

Electro-mechanical Timer

The Kenmore dryer and washer set in the basement has been in operation for over two decades, with nary a problem from either machine. Sure, we had to replaced some worn out parts five years ago (dryer belt, washer motor coupling), but there have not been any issues since. Until a few weeks ago.

KenmoreDryer_Timer

For some unknown reason, the dryer’s drum would stop turning and the heating element would turn off during a cycle. The timer would continue to run, and if we wiggled the timer knob just right, the drum and the heating element would start again. We decided that the problem was likely a mechanical contact issue and not with the timer motor, solenoids, or other such parts.

Our wiggle-the-knob “solution” worked for a while, but eventually we had to resort to using a pair of pliers to pull on the stem of the timer (after the knob was removed). This worked pretty well, but not consistently, so there was a lot of ambling down to the basement to check, and finessing the timer knob. Again.

The problem obviously was with the timer unit, and replacement parts ranged between $70 and $100 on Amazon. However, we didn’t want to just swap it out without a better understanding of why it had failed.

KenmoreDryer_ControlPanelOpen

Taking out the timer module was very straight forward:

  • UNPLUG the AC power
  • Remove the two front panel anchor screws
  • Lift and seat the front panel on the back support plate

KenmoreDryer_ControlPanelOpened

KenmoreDryer_TimerAnchor

  • Remove the two timer module anchor screws (hex head)

This is the timer module (don’t be distracted by the mess of wires). It is just anchored by two screws.

KenmoreDryer_TimerUnAnchored

With the timer module freed from the control panel, it was easy to follow the wires to see which needed to be pulled to free the module from the dryer itself. We took a few photos from different angles just to make sure we could plug everything back the way it was. There is nothing worst than “…hmmm, where does this wire go???”

  • Unplug the two wire harnesses (one on each side)
  • Unplug the purple and white wires

KenmoreDryer_Unplugging

Looking at the metal plate, we could see two screws securing it to the timer’s plastic housing. Removing those screws freed the plate from the housing. A little jiggling was needed to separate the two pieces from each other. A good sign was there were no loose parts. That meant it was likely that we could reassemble it 🙂

KenmoreDryer_TimerOpened

Here is a look at the inside of the timer module: the contacts for triggering various functions on the left, the selector plates which rotates and “pushes” on the contacts are on the right. The selector plates work much like those of a combination lock. The rise will push the copper contact together, closing the circuit until the plate rotates around to a notch.

With the unit apart, it is clear that some of the contacts on the left, for whatever reason, were losing touch with each other and so opening the circuit, thus causing the dryer to stop. This could be because the raised ridge of the plates have worn down a little from use.

So a “fix” would be to slightly bend the contacts toward each other to make the gap smaller.

KenmoreDryer_TimerInternalDetails

We reassembled the timer, remounted it on the dryer, and was able to fire it up on the first try! There is no guarantee that this fix will be permanent, but we are happy that things appear to be working for now. Hey, it is a lot cheaper than a new dryer, and if we could put off spending a $100, we are happy to do so!

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