How to Fix a Hairdryer or How to Buy a new One!

How many hairdryers have you had over the years?  If you are lucky and bought a good quality hairdryer and looked after it you may have had one for years.  If you are a one for gadgets perhaps you have had several hairdryers just throwing them aside when they pack up.

Buying a new hairdryer now involves checking out the pros and cons of each type, weighing up the wattage and looking at design as well.  If it is all getting too much for you, then going to a specialized website such as Oomphed for the most up to date product reviews.

How do they work?

Whilst hairdryers come in all shapes and sizes from very lightweight to heavier high wattage models, they are all easily recognizable as hairdryers.  They will always have an on/off switch, a fan-speed switch, a fan and motor, a heat switch, a heating element and (by law) a thermal cut out.

  • The amount of heat is controlled by the heat switch by controlling the amount of current powering the heating element
  • The fan-speed switch will control how much air is forced out by the motor and fan
  • The thermal safety switch will shut off it the heating element overheats

Any of these parts can be serviced if you feel so inclined.

Servicing the switch(es)

No matter how many positions the switch has, two or three the servicing is the same.

  • Unplug the hairdryer
  • Take care to unscrew the housing (screws are probably close the motor vent)
  • Switches will be mounted in the handle or somewhere between the electric cord and fan motor and heating element
  • Locate the switch, remove the switch and disconnect it
  • Using your continuity tester or multitester
  • When the switch is off it should indicate an open circuit so the continuity light should be off
  • When the switch is on it should indicate a closed circuit with the continuity light on
  • Fan speed switches and heating element switches should show continuity on all settings so the continuity light should be on
  • Switches can be replaced

Servicing the fan

Hairdryer fans are quite sturdy, their job is to pull air in via the vents and then blow it out again via the nozzle.

Hair can find its way into the fan along with other debris.

To clean it use compressed air and/or a soft toothbrush (bristle)

Moisture can also get in and cause damage to the motor causing it to cut out

To troubleshoot moisture damage

  • Remove the housing screws and take a look inside the housing
  • Inspect the fan blades for damage, they can be replaced
  • Test the motor for closed circuitry (continuity light should be on)
  • The motor can be replaced with the exact same wattage and size only (at this stage check the cost of the repair against a new dryer.

Servicing the heating element

The heating element is installed in the nozzle or output vent. The electrical current heats up the element and the air, the fan forces the warm air out of the nozzle.

  • Remove the housing and remove the element shield
  • Locate the two wires leading to the element and first check for any obvious damage, breaks or build-up of debris
  • Test the circuit between the two wires for continuity, they should be closed (light on)
  • If not then check the thermal cutout (if the thermal cutout is working replace the heating element with exactly the same part only)

Servicing the thermal cutout

This bimetallic thermostat is designed to cutout the electrical current if the dryer overheats.

If it doesn’t have a bimetallic thermostat and you can’t fit one in, then it really should be dismantled and thrown away anyway.  The last thing you want to do is a “faulty” repair and electrocute someone.

  • Open the housing and locate the element assembly
  • Inspect the thermal cutout for obvious damage, distortion or discoloring
  • You can clean the contact points with fine emery paper
  • You can use short blasts of compressed air on any debris taking care to avoid the sensitive wiring

A lot depends on your reasons for wanting to fix a broken appliance such as a hairdryer.  There is a trend for vintage items right now and that is fine so long as it is not so vintage as to be pre-legal safety requirements.

If you just enjoy a make do and mend mentality then the same applies.

If you are altruistic in your endeavors to fix things, make sure you do follow the current safety rules to avoid any backfiring !