One of the most common repairs done to dryers is replacing the heating element. This is an easy task that most any DIYer can tackle themselves. The most common heating element found on Whirlpool dryers is part number 279838, this element is sometimes called the "shorty" because of its small size compared to its larger predecessor used on older Whirlpool dryers part number 4391960.
First before working on the dryer, you will need to unplug and remove the exhaust vent from the dryer.
Next, you will need to remove the back panel of the dryer. Remove the nine 1/4" screws and then tilt the panel back and lift up to remove.
Now remove the wires going to the heating element and high limit thermostat. Some dryers may have up to five wires, so make sure to note the place and position of each wire. The high limit thermostat is the part attached to the left side of the heating element. Newer dryers will use a push on style high limit thermostat part number 3977767, and older dryers use a thermostat that is attached with one or two 1/4" screws part number 3390291.
Remove the two 1/4" mountings screws on the left and right sides.
With the two mounting screws removed, pull back on the bottom of the element, and then slide it down to remove it from the dryer.
Remove the high limit thermostat from the old heating element and transfer it over to the new heating element. You will have to pry up on it if you have a newer style thermostat, or you will have to remove the mounting screw(s) if you have an older style thermostat.
Re-install everything in the reverse order. Make sure to check your dryer vent and blower housing (where the lint filter slides into) for any vent restrictions. This is the number one thing that causes heating elements to burn out prematurely.
My Dryer Still Doesn't Heat
Multiple things on a dryer can cause dryers not to heat. The heating element is just one of many things that can cause your dryer not to heat. The second most common thing that causes these dryers not to heat is a bad thermal fuse. There are two thermal fuses, one is right next to the blower fan and one is on the heater box. The common blower thermal fuse is part number 3392519 and when that goes bad you should also replace the operating thermostat (Usually part number 3387134 or 694674). Whirlpool sells the high limit thermal fuse and thermostat on the heater box as a kit. Newer dryers use part number 279816 and older dryers use part number 279769. If you have a bad thermal fuse, then your dryer got too hot. Check your dryer and venting for any restrictions. Also make sure your heating element is not shorted to ground (this causes the heating element to stay on all the time).
Electric dryers also require 220-240 volts to work properly, if you only have 120v going to the dryer it is possible for it to run but not heat. The timer, motor, and bad wiring can also cause heating problems on dryers. All parts are specific to your model dryer, so please contact us before ordering parts.
How To Test The 279838 Heating Element
To test your heating element you will need to first remove the heating element from the dryer (follow the above instructions to remove the element). With the element removed from the dryer, do a visual inspection of the element. Often times you will be able to see a break in the heating coil. Sometimes it even helps to grab each section of the coil and wiggle it to make sure there isn't a break in it. If you can't see a break in the coil, then you will need an Ohm meter or Multi-Meter to test the heating element. Place one probe on each terminal of the heating element, you should get a reading of approximately 9-10 ohms on a good element. If you get no resistance, then the element is bad and will need to be replaced.
Here is a good element being tested:
Here is an Ohm reading from a defective element:
Where Can I Buy A Genuine Whirlpool 279838 Heating Element?
Parts Dr sells new genuine OEM Whirlpool replacement heating elements. You will often find knockoff heating elements sold for less money. These elements are lower quality, and don't hold up as well in the long run. Visit the link below to visit our store to purchase a genuine Whirlpool 279838 heating element.