This Fix-It Guide on hair dryer repair tells how a hair dryer works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a hair dryer problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble a typical hair dryer and how to service a hair dryer thermal cutout. This Fix-It Guide also refers to electrical cord repair, motor repair, switch repair, heating element repair, and fan repair for more information.
How Does a Hair Dryer Work?
An electric hair dryer produces an instant blast of hot air, warm, or even cool air to help dry and style hair, yet many models are light enough to be held in one hand so that the air flow can easily be directed. The dryer contains a very long coil of thin wire that develops heat. A jet of air blown by a fan behind the heating element carries this heat through the nozzle and in the direction you choose. If the air flow is obstructed and the air becomes too hot, a thermostat cuts off the power to prevent burning out the motor.
The typical hair dryer includes an on-off switch, a fan-speed switch, a fan and motor, and a heat switch. Larger hood-type dryers work on the same principles with the same key parts, so the same repair instructions apply. Heated styling brushes are essentially the same in function, parts, and repair.
What Can Go Wrong with a Hair Dryer?
Because hair dryers are simple small appliances, few things can go wrong. The electric cord may be faulty, the appliance may not heat, and the fan may not operate. That’s about it.
Hair dryers will overheat and the thermostat will turn it off if the vent becomes clogged with hair or dust. Periodically brush or vacuum the grille and filter screen. Also tighten screws occasionally so hair and moisture don’t enter the housing.
How Can I Identify a Hair Dryer Problem?
Here’s where to start looking if your hair dryer fails:
- If the appliance doesn’t work at all, make sure the power is on at the outlet and check the electrical cord.
- If it still doesn’t run, disassemble it to check the thermal cutout and service if necessary. Also test the motor, switches, and heating element with a multimeter.
- If the fan doesn’t work on every setting, check the fan switch and service if faulty.
- If the dryer doesn’t heat on every setting, check the heat switch and service if necessary.
- If the fan works but the heat doesn’t, check the heat switch and the heating element and service if needed.
- If the heat works but the fan doesn’t, check the fan-speed switch and the fan motor and service if faulty.
The heating elements inside a hair dryer (and toasters, as well) are very fine wires. Treat them with special care to ensure that they aren’t damaged as you are repairing other components. Also, inspect them for breaks and repair or replace any that look worn or broken.
What Do I Need for Hair Dryer Repair?
You can buy some replacement parts for hair dryers at small appliance parts stores and larger hardware stores. Or you can contact the manufacturer or online aftermarket parts dealers for replacement parts. The tools you may need to work on a hair dryer include these:
What Are the Steps to Hair Dryer Repair?
Disassemble a typical hair dryer:
- Unplug the dryer.
- Remove the hair dryer nozzle and filter. On some models, they are held on by tension while on others by a small screw where the nozzle or filter meets the main body.
- If the unit has an intake filter screen, remove and clean it.
- Remove screws that hold the housing together and remove the housing.
- Locate any switches, the fan, and the motor, then test them. In some cases you can see obvious damage or problems that can be repaired quickly. Or you may need to find and install replacement parts.
Service a hair dryer thermal cutout:
- Open the housing as above to open the heating element assembly.
- Inspect the thermal cutout for damage or discoloration. The thermal cutout will be connected to one of the two wires leading from the electrical cord and inside the housing.
- Carefully use canned air to clean internal components of dust, hair, and other debris. Be careful not to damage the sensitive element wires in the heating unit.
For safety, remember to let a hair dryer cool down before storing it.