Short answer: Testing a dryer thermal fuse is vital to prevent overheating. Use an ohmmeter to check for continuity, ensuring safety and dryer efficiency.

Testing a dryer’s thermal fuse is a fundamental maintenance task for anyone who relies on a dryer for their laundry needs. The thermal fuse plays a critical role in preventing overheating and potential fire hazards by interrupting the electrical circuit when the appliance’s temperature exceeds safe levels. Knowing how to properly test a dryer thermal fuse is not only essential for safety but also for diagnosing and addressing any issues that may be affecting your dryer’s performance. In this guide, I will walk you through the steps and methods for effectively testing a dryer thermal fuse, ensuring that your appliance operates both efficiently and safely.

What Is A Thermal Fuse And Why It Is Used?

Thermal fuse
Thermal fuse

A thermal fuse is a safety device used in various electrical appliances, including clothes dryers, ovens, coffee makers, and more. Its primary purpose is to protect the appliance and, more importantly, the user from potential fire hazards or overheating.

Here’s how a thermal fuse works and why it is used:

1. Safety Device: A thermal fuse is essentially a temperature-sensitive electrical switch. It is designed to open (break the electrical circuit) when the temperature within the appliance reaches a certain predetermined level, which is usually higher than the normal operating temperature.

2. Overheating Prevention: The main reason for using a thermal fuse is to prevent the appliance from overheating. Appliances like dryers, for example, generate heat during their operation. If there is a malfunction or a blockage in the airflow, the temperature inside the appliance can rise to a dangerous level. The thermal fuse serves as a fail-safe mechanism to interrupt power to the heating element or other critical components when this occurs.

3. Fire Hazard Reduction: By cutting off power when overheating is detected, a thermal fuse reduces the risk of electrical fires. It is an important safety feature that provides peace of mind to consumers and helps prevent potentially disastrous accidents.

4. Single-Use: Thermal fuses are typically designed for one-time use. Once they trip (open the circuit) due to overheating, they cannot be reset or reused. This is a deliberate design choice to ensure that the appliance is inspected and any underlying issues are addressed before the device can be used again.

5. Location: Thermal fuses are strategically placed in an appliance at or near critical temperature points. For example, in a clothes dryer, a thermal fuse might be located near the heating element or exhaust duct.

How To Test A Dryer Thermal Fuse?

To determine if a dryer thermal fuse is functioning correctly, you’ll need to perform a continuity test. This test checks if there is an uninterrupted electrical path within the fuse. Follow these steps to test a dryer thermal fuse:

Step 1: Gather Your Tools:

Ensure you have the necessary tools ready:

  • A multimeter capable of measuring continuity and resistance.
  • An analog or digital multimeter can be used.

Step 2: Set Up Your Multimeter:

Using multimeter for testing thermal fuse
Testing dryer fuse

Set your multimeter to the appropriate mode:

  • For continuity, use the Continuity Symbol.
  • For resistance, use the Resistance Symbol.
  • Select the lowest setting for ohms of resistance.

Step 3: Calibrate the Meter (For Analog Models):

If you are using an analog multimeter, calibrate it by:

  • Touching the probes together.
  • Adjusting the needle to read zero.

Step 4: Prepare the Thermal Fuse:

Before starting, ensure the thermal fuse is isolated or removed from the appliance.

Step 5: Perform the Test:

Use the multimeter to test the thermal fuse as follows:

  • Touch one probe to one of the fuse’s terminals.
  • Touch the second probe to the other terminal.

Step 6: Interpret the Results:

Observe the multimeter reading:

  • If the meter shows zero ohms of resistance, this indicates continuity and the thermal fuse is functioning correctly.
  • If the needle doesn’t move (for analog models) or the digital display doesn’t change significantly (for digital models), there is no continuity. This means the fuse has blown out and requires replacement.

Step 7: Replace the Thermal Fuse (If Necessary):

If the thermal fuse has blown out and needs replacement, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for replacement. You may find a link in the video description or refer to the appliance’s manual for guidance.

Replacing dryer thermal fuse
Installing a new thermal fuse

Step 8: Maintenance Reminder:

Remember that a dryer thermal fuse often fails due to lint clogging the venting system. After replacing the fuse, make sure to clean the venting system thoroughly and include it as part of your annual dryer maintenance routine.

What Are The Signs Of The Burnt Thermal Fuse?

A burnt or blown thermal fuse in a dryer can exhibit several signs, which may indicate that it needs to be replaced. Some common signs of a burnt thermal fuse include:

  1. Dryer Not Starting: One of the most obvious signs is that the dryer doesn’t start or turn on at all when you try to use it.
  2. No Heat: The dryer operates, but there is no heat generated during the drying cycle. This results in clothes not drying properly or taking much longer to dry.
  3. Dryer Overheating: On the flip side, a burnt thermal fuse can sometimes cause the dryer to overheat, which can be dangerous. You might notice excessive heat inside the dryer or even a burning smell.
  4. Visible Damage: In some cases, you can visually inspect the thermal fuse for damage. It may be discolored, show signs of melting, or have a burnt appearance.
  5. Continuity Test Failure: If you have a multimeter and perform a continuity test as described earlier, and the thermal fuse fails to show continuity (meaning it has no electrical path), this indicates it has blown.
  6. Repeated Tripping: If the thermal fuse has blown due to overheating, it might repeatedly blow again after a short period of use.

How To Test A Thermal Fuse Without Continuity Testers?

Testing a thermal fuse without a continuity tester, such as an ohmmeter, can be challenging, but it’s still possible to get an idea of whether the fuse has blown using some alternative methods. Keep in mind that these methods may not be as precise as using a continuity tester, so it’s recommended to use a tester if available. Here’s how you can test a thermal fuse without continuity testers:

Visual Inspection:

Start by visually inspecting the thermal fuse. Look for any visible signs of damage, such as discoloration, scorch marks, or a broken connection. If the fuse appears damaged, it’s likely blown and should be replaced.

Conduct a Bypass Test:

  • This method is not recommended for long-term use but can help confirm if the thermal fuse is the issue.
  • Disconnect the thermal fuse from the electrical circuit.
  • Temporarily bypass the thermal fuse by connecting the wires or terminals on either side of the fuse.
  • Reassemble the appliance and plug it in.
  • Turn the appliance on and observe its operation.
  • If the appliance now works as expected, it suggests that the thermal fuse was the problem, and it should be replaced. However, this is not a permanent solution, and the thermal fuse must be replaced for safety reasons.

Check for Continuity Using a Light Bulb:

  • This method is less precise but can provide a basic indication of continuity.
  • Disconnect the thermal fuse from the electrical circuit.
  • Remove the wires or connectors from the thermal fuse terminals.
  • Connect the wires or terminals to a low-wattage light bulb (e.g., a 15-watt or 25-watt bulb).
  • Plug in the appliance and turn it on.
  • If the bulb lights up, it suggests that there is continuity, and the thermal fuse may be functioning. However, this method is not as reliable as using a continuity tester.

Check for a Clicking Sound:

  • Some thermal fuses have a built-in mechanism that clicks or resets when they cool down after tripping.
  • Disconnect the thermal fuse from the electrical circuit.
  • Wait for the thermal fuse to cool down completely (this may take a while).
  • Reconnect the thermal fuse.
  • If you hear a clicking sound when reconnecting it, it indicates that the thermal fuse has reset and may have continuity. However, this method is not foolproof, and it’s still advisable to replace the fuse if there is a reason it tripped in the first place.


Can I use my dryer with a blown thermal fuse temporarily?

It’s not recommended to use the dryer with a blown thermal fuse, as it can pose safety risks. The fuse should be replaced before using the dryer again.

Are thermal fuses standardized, or do they vary by dryer model?

Thermal fuses can vary by dryer model, so it’s essential to use the correct replacement fuse specified for your dryer’s make and model.

Where can I purchase a replacement thermal fuse for my dryer?

You can typically find replacement thermal fuses at appliance parts stores, home improvement centers, or online retailers. Be sure to get the correct fuse for your dryer’s make and model.

What does a blown thermal fuse look like?

A blown thermal fuse typically looks intact but may show signs of discoloration or scorch marks. It’s not always visibly damaged, so it’s essential to test it for continuity to confirm if it’s blown.

Is a 4 Ohm reading on a dryer heating element bad?

A 4-ohm reading on a dryer heating element is generally within an acceptable range for many dryer models. However, the specific resistance value can vary depending on the dryer’s make and model.


Testing a dryer thermal fuse is a crucial step in ensuring the safety and functionality of your appliance. By following the proper procedures, such as using an ohmmeter or continuity tester, you can determine whether the thermal fuse has blown or is functioning correctly. Identifying a blown thermal fuse can help prevent overheating and potential fire hazards in your dryer, but it’s equally important to address any underlying issues that may have caused the fuse to blow in the first place. Regular maintenance and prompt replacement of a faulty thermal fuse contribute to the efficient and safe operation of your dryer.

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