Appliance Repair Blog

How To Replace Whirlpool 279838 Heating Element

Posted on July 11, 2014

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.

How To Replace The 279838 Heating Element

How To Test The 279838 Heating Element

My Dryer Still Doesn’t Heat After Replacing The Element

Where Can I Buy A Genuine Whirlpool 279838 Heating Element?

How to replace the 279838 heating element:

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.

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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.

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Remove the two 1/4″ mountings screws on the left and right sides.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Whirlpool Dryer Heating Element  - 279838

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7 Thoughts on "How To Replace Whirlpool 279838 Heating Element"

  1. April Sherrill Posted on December 31, 2014

    Please help! I replaced the heating element but don’t know which wires go where to hook it back up. I took pictures but I can’t tell where the wires are coming from in the photos. I’ve looked everywhere online. The videos or articles tell you to hook it back up the same way.

    • Ryan Posted on January 14, 2015

      If you can post up a picture on on forum we should be able to tell you which wires go where.

  2. sondra larson Posted on March 4, 2015

    I tried to sign into the forum and it wouldn’t let me. I tried answering the question about what to mow the lawn with and it wouldn’t accept my answer and other problems with signing in. Eventually thinking I was a spammer and refusing my sign in registration. Can you help? Would like to hear from others with similar problems of water not spinning out completely. Thank you. dlarson51@cox.net

    • Ryan Posted on March 16, 2015

      The username that you chose was very common which caused it be flagged as a spam account. Please choose a more unique username (ex: firstname1234).

  3. Ken Posted on March 12, 2015

    How can I tell if a 279838 heating element is genuine Whirlpool? Thanks!

    • Ryan Posted on March 16, 2015

      First, buy the part from a reputable dealer (like us) and avoid places like eBay and Amazon. We see alot of knockoff and aftermarket parts being sold on eBay and Amazon and they are being advertised as new OEM parts. The factory box that the heating element comes in is brown cardboard and it has a sticker that says “Whirlpool Corporation FACTORY CERTIFIED PARTS” with the part number 279838 on the same sticker. The top of the box also has the “Whirlpool Corporation FACTORY CERTIFIED PARTS” writing on it. The heating element itself should have a small FSP logo stamped into the back of it along with U.S. PAT. NO 4531017, 4617547, 4675511, 5324919, 5329098, 5895597 print right above. Since all of these things can be counterfeited pretty easily, it is best to just buy from a reputable source.

      • Ken Posted on March 16, 2015

        Thank you so much! May I re-post this information (with credit to you)?

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