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Kenmore Elite Dryer Not Heating? Here’s Why (+ How To Fix)

A Kenmore elite dryer without heat is as good as not having one. That’s especially true if you are trying to dry your washing on an extra chilly winter day. So, why would your Kenmore elite dryer not heat up?

These are the most common reasons your Kenmore elite dryer is not heating:

  • The dryer has a power supply issue.
  • The dryer is set to “Air Dry.”
  • The dryer vent is blocked.
  • The heating element has burned out.
  • The high-limit thermostat is malfunctioning.
  • The thermal fuse has blown/tripped.
  • The dryer timer contacts aren’t working.

You can resolve these Kenmore elite dryer heating problems with a bit of guidance. This article is a step-by-step guide to resolving these issues. Let’s get the ball rolling, starting with our number one issue.

The Dryer Has a Power Supply Issue

Kenmore elite dryers are high voltage appliances requiring 240V to run. If you have a power issue preventing your dryer from receiving this much voltage, your dryer motor may run, but the dryer won’t heat. 

Power issues that can cause your Kenmore dryer fail to heat include:

  • A lower voltage wall outlet.
  • A damaged power cord.
  • A tripped circuit breaker.

How To Fix Kenmore Elite Dryer Power Supply Issues

The best way to troubleshoot dryer power issues is to follow the elimination method, starting with the simplest to the most complex problem.

To check and fix a power issue with your Kenmore dryer, follow these steps:

  1. Check if the power cord has any visible damage, such as threadbare wires or melted insulation. These damages can cause your dryer’s cable not to complete the circuit and, therefore, not heat.
  2. Check if one of the circuit breaker switches dedicated to the dryer has tripped. If it has, you will notice that it is not in line with the other switches. Flip the tripped switch back on.
  3. If none of the two problems above is the issue, test the wall power outlet to be sure it is sending 240 volts to the dryer. If your dryer is connected to a 120V outlet, the motor will run, but the dryer won’t heat.

Here are the steps to test a wall outlet for voltage:

  1. Turn off power at the wall outlet switch, disconnect the dryer cable, then turn the switch back on. Note that testing a wall outlet for voltage is done when the outlet wires are charged with current. Consequently, do not attempt the test if you are not sure you can do it safely.
  2. Set a multimeter to the AC/voltage range. Your meter should show a wavy line on the display.
  3. Place the black probe of the meter to the right side slot of the wall outlet first and the red probe to the left side slot. These sides are visible from your position in front of the outlet.
  4. Notice the reading on the multimeter display. If the reading shows a value between 215V and 240V, the outlet contains enough current for the dryer. However, if the reading is around 110V-120V, the voltage is lower than the dryer requirements. Have a trained technician install a 240V outlet.

Watch this Sears Home Services video below for a visual demonstration of the steps to test a wall outlet for voltage: 

The Dryer Is Set To “Air Dry”

Kenmore elite dryers come with a range of cycle options. These allow you to decide on the amount of heat you want to dry your washing. If you choose the “Air Dry” option, that means you have items that use heat-free drying to remove the moisture with air and not heat. As such, your dryer won’t heat up.

Therefore, if you have linen that needs heat drying but your dryer is set on “Air Only,” you’ll have to correct the setting to the right dry cycle.

How To Set a Dry Cycle on a Kenmore Elite Dryer

Check the “Cycle Guide” section of your Kenmore Elite Dryer User & Care Manual and follow the instructions for setting your desired cycle.

You can choose between:

  • Auto Dry Cycles: These detect the moisture level in your garments and adjust the drying time accordingly.
  • Timed Dry Cycles: These allow you to set the amount of drying time you want. You can also fix the time (increase or decrease) during the drying cycle.

The Dryer Vent Is Blocked

A dryer vent removes excess heat from the dryer to prevent overheating and possible fire accidents. The vent also gets rid of excessive moisture and lint from the drying drum.

If the vent is clogged, the moisture from the washing stays in, which reduces the heat and makes the dryer feel like it’s really not getting hot. As I will explain later, a blocked vent can cause overheating and blow the thermal fuse.

You’ll notice that your Kenmore elite dryer has an indicator that blinks when the vent is clogged. However, if the indicator is not blinking, the dryer cycles are not drying clothes, and the dryer seems not to be getting hot, the usual suspect is a clogged vent. 

You can also run your dryer on high heat and place your hand at the vent opening outside to see if you will feel hot air coming out. If not, the vent is clogged and needs cleaning. 

How To Clean a Blocked Dryer Vent

Perform these steps to clean a clogged dryer vent:

  1. Cut off the power to the dryer and unplug it.
  2. Pull the dryer away from the wall and carefully disconnect the vent from the hood at the back of the dryer drum.
  3. Insert a vent cleaning brush into the tubing to loosen the lint and debris.
  4. Vacuum the vent to eliminate any dirt that didn’t attach to the brush.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 at the other end of the dryer vent outside the home.
  6. Reattach the clean vent to the hood and push the dryer back to its usual position.
  7. Plug the dryer cord and turn on the power, then do the hand test to see if the tube is venting as it should. Your dryer should now send moisture out of the drum and heat up to dry your washing.

You can watch a visual of how to clean a dryer vent from this Ace Hardware video:

Note: To reduce lint buildup in the vent, follow these tips:

  1. Make sure your dryer vent is short. Longer dryer vents allow lint to stay long enough to settle on the vent and cause blockages. The Inter­national Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends that dryer vents be 4 inches (10.16 cm) wide and only 35 ft (10.67 m) long from the dryer hood to the wall exit.
  2. If your dryer vent has bends, reduce the length of the vent by 5 ft (1.52 m) for every 90° angle and by 2.5 ft (76.2 cm) for a 45° turn.
  3. Clean your dryer vent every 6 months to prevent lint and debris buildup.
  4. Never run your Kenmore elite dryer without a lint filter. 
  5. Ensure you clean the lint filter before or after every drying cycle, so lint from the filter is not sent to the vent or clogs the dryer altogether.

You can watch the tail end of this short Kenmore Elite Dryer cleaning video to see how to take out and clean the lint filter:

The Heating Element Has Burned Out

The heating element on your Kenmore elite dryer warms the air before it is sent to the drum to dry your clothes. With consistent usage or following a short circuit, the heating element can burn. Your dryer won’t heat up in that case, and you will need to replace the element.

How To Test and Replace a Dryer Heating Element

You can test and replace a Kenmore elite dryer heating element in a single process following these steps:

  1. Turn off the electrical current to the dryer and unplug the appliance..
  2. Unthread the screws holding the back panel and set the cover aside.
  3. Disconnect the heating element wires.
  4. Unfasten the mounting screws on the heating element with a quarter-inch nut driver and take the element away from the heater box. The element sits on the lower part of the casing that completes the burner duct or heater box.
  5. Check if the element sports breakage or burn signs. If you can’t tell by just looking, proceed to test the heating element for continuity.
  6. Take a multimeter and rotate the dial to the lowest ohms reading. Place one lead of the meter on one of the heating element terminals and the other lead on the other terminal. 

A 0-50 ohms meter reading indicates that the element has continuity. However, if no change happens on the multimeter display, the element is burnt and should be replaced. Proceed with the replacement steps.

  1. Take the high-limit thermostat fitted into the old heating element and fix it on the new element. 
  2. Fit the new element onto the lower heating box space where the old one was so that the mounting screws’ holes are aligned. Fasten the mounting screws.
  3. Reconnect the heating element wires ensuring each wire goes to the right place. Note that wrong connections can damage the new element.
  4. Fit back the outer cover and thread the screws.
  5. Reconnect the dryer to the wall plug, turn on the power, and test if the dryer resumes heating.

Watch this SEARS PartDirect video to see how to perform the above steps correctly:

The High-Limit Thermostat Is Malfunctioning

The Kenmore elite dryer high-limit thermostat is a component attached to the heating element casing that monitors the temperature in the dryer. If the temperature rises too high and the dryer overheats, the thermostat signals the heating element to stop heating.

Should the high-limit thermostat malfunction, it can signal that the dryer is overheating when the appliance is actually cold, which means your dryer heating element won’t initiate heating. If you suspect the high-limit thermostat is malfunctioning, test it for continuity and replace it if it is faulty.

How To Test and Replace a Dryer High-limit Thermostat

You can test and replace a Kenmore dryer high-limit thermostat in the same procedure. Follow these steps:

  1. Cut off power to the dryer and unplug the cord.
  2. Remove the back panel screws and place the panel aside.
  3. Remove the high-limit thermostat connection wires. You’ll find the high limit switch attached to the lower part of the burner duct.
  4. Unthread the screws mounting the high-limit thermostat to the burner duct casing and remove the thermostat.
  5. With the high-limit isolated, you can now test it for continuity. Set a multimeter reading to the lowest ohms and place each probe on a terminal of the high-limit thermostat. A reading around 0 ohms shows the thermostat has continuity. If the multimeter does not record any change, the high-limit thermostat is damaged. Proceed to fix a new thermostat.
  6. Fit the new thermostat onto the burner duct casing so that the screw holes are aligned. Fasten the mounting screws.
  7. Reconnect the high-limit thermostat wires.
  8. Fit back the rear panel and thread the mounting screws.
  9. Plug the dryer and turn on the power. Your Kenmore elite dryer should now resume heating.

If you work better with demonstrations, this Repair Clinic video has the steps for replacing a Kenmore Dryer high-limit thermostat:

The Thermal Fuse Has Blown/Tripped

The Kenmore elite dryer thermal fuse is a safety element that trips if the air in your dryer’s drum overheats. The thermal fuse is fitted next to the heating element or the blower housing. 

If the thermal fuse blows or trips, your dryer controls will light up, but the motor won’t run. Also, a tripped thermal fuse can’t be reset but has to be replaced just like a blown one.

How To Replace a Blown/Tripped Dryer Thermal Fuse

Follow these steps to test and replace a Kenmore Elite Dryer thermal fuse:

  1. Turn off the power to the dryer and unplug the cable.
  2. Unthread the screws of the rear panel and place the panel aside.
  3. Disconnect the thermal fuse wires. The fuse is a white element in the lower middle of the blower housing in the rear of the dryer.
  4. Remove the screws mounting the fuse to the dryer and pull it out. You can now test the fuse for continuity.
  5. Set the meter reading to the lowest ohms and probe the fuse by placing each lead of the meter on a terminal of the fuse. If the meter records a reading around 0 ohms, it has continuity. If nothing happens on the meter when you probe the fuse, the element is dead and should be replaced. Continue the process following the replacement steps.
  6. Position the new fuse on the blower housing and thread the mounting screws. 
  7. Reconnect the fuse wires.
  8. Place back the rear panel and fasten the mounting screws.
  9. Plug the dryer, turn on the power, and test if the dryer starts heating.

Watch the steps for replacing a Dryer thermal fuse in this SEARS PartsDirect video:

Note: A dryer thermal fuse usually blows if the exhaust vent is blocked. So, after replacing a blown or tripped thermal fuse and before turning on the dryer, you should ensure the dryer vent is clear and free of any blockage.. 

The Dryer Timer Contacts Aren’t Working

Your Kenmore elite dryer timer controls the drying time according to the set cycle. The timer is located on the control panel and is set by turning the timer knob. To function, the dryer timer is controlled by a small motor at the rear of the control panel. During a drying cycle, the internal cams of the timer open and close contacts or switches to operate the dryer components. 

If the timer contacts malfunction, your dryer will either not start or not heat, and the timer won’t advance. You should replace a faulty dryer timer.

How To Replace a Dryer Timer

You can replace a Kenmore elite dryer timer by following these steps: 

  1. Turn off the power to the dryer and unplug the cord.
  2. Pull off the dryer timer knob from the control panel.
  3. Unthread the screws mounting the control panel rear cover and put it aside.
  4. Disconnect the timer wires. Be sure to note the position of each wire so you can reconnect them correctly later.
  5. Loosen the timer mounting screws and remove the timer.
  6. Fix the new timer where the old one was and tighten the mounting screws.
  7. Correctly reattach the timer connection wires.
  8. Fit the back panel and thread the screws. 
  9. Reattach the timer knob at the front of the control panel.
  10. Reinstall power to the dryer and test if the timer now advances and if the dryer resumes heating.

If you prefer, here’s a visual version of the steps for replacing a Kenmore dryer timer by Repair Clinic:

If your Kenmore dryer is still not heating after checking all the above problems, go to the Kenmore Repairs & Services page to schedule a service, or schedule one by calling 1 (800) 298-9089.