Between work, commutes, socializing, parenting, and taking care of our homes, we lead pretty busy lives. Thankfully, when it comes to the household, we have appliances and tools that make chores simple and efficient. We can wash dishes in the dishwasher, clean our floors with vacuums, and do the laundry with a washer and dryer.
One of those appliances is the clothes dryer. Without it, doing the laundry would take far more time and effort. If your dryer isn’t drying, it can be a big deal and an expensive replacement.
Before you replace, see if you can fix the problem. To help you, take a look at these common dryer issues and troubleshooting tips.
Check the Basics
The best place to start with a dryer not drying tends to be with the basics, like checking for power and noticing how you use the dryer. Below are some of the basics you should check if your dryer isn’t drying your clothes.
Is the Dryer Plugged In?
Make sure that your dryer is plugged in and getting power. If the dryer is plugged in but still shows no signs of powering up, check the circuit breaker.
If the dryer’s circuit is tripped, reset it.
If you have an electric dryer, it runs on two circuits: one for the heating element and one for the rest of the dryer. If your dryer is getting hot but not drying, it could be that one of the two circuits is tripped. Again, check the circuit breaker and reset the circuit as necessary.
Are You Overloading the Dryer?
Make sure you aren’t putting too much clothing in the dryer. Doing so may put undue stress on the dryer’s motor, drum bearing, and other dryer components. It also may hinder your clothes from drying properly.
There are two main functions that get your clothes to dry quickly: heat and airflow. The heat warms up the water in your clothes to turn in into steam, and the airflow pushes the steam out of the dryer and away from the clothes. By stuffing too many clothes in the dryer you may block important airflow. This keeps the steam trapped in the clothes and humidity slows down the drying process, which may seem like the dryer’s not drying. Consult with your owner’s manual for information about maximum load limits for your dryer.
Check the Air Vent and Duct
Airflow plays a huge role in getting your clothes to dry properly. Part of proper dryer function is airflow through the dryer vent. Clogged air vents are a common cause for poor airflow in clothes dryer systems. One way to see if your dryer’s air vent is clogged is by turning on your dryer and going outside to feel the flow of air leaving the vent. If it’s slow and not very warm, your vent may be due for a good cleaning. Try these steps to clean:
- Unplug the dryer.
- Pull the dryer away from the wall and disconnect it from the vent.
- From the outside, remove the vent screen cover and start cleaning the vent. Most likely the cause of the clog will be a buildup of lint. You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove the lint from inside your vent.
- When the dryer vent is clean, reconnect it to the dryer, push the dryer back into place, and plug it in.
Clean the Lint Trap
Excess lint build-up in the lint trap may hinder your dryer’s airflow. As you’ve read above, airflow is a vital part of a properly working dryer. Make sure your lint trap is clean and make it a habit to clean the lint trap after each use. For more thorough cleaning, wash with warm soapy water and let dry completely.
Check the Door Switch
Your dryer has a door switch that keeps the dryer from running while the door is open. If your dryer isn’t working, make sure the door is closed. If the door is closed but still won’t run, open the door and manually press on the door switch before trying to start the machine again. If the dryer turns on, you may simply need to make an adjustment on the door so that it presses down on the door switch when closed. If it still doesn’t run, you may have a malfunctioning door switch that needs to be replaced.
Are Your Clothes Too Wet?
Dryers aren’t meant for dripping wet clothes, which is why the washer spins to remove excess water before you put them in the dryer. If your clothes are soaked after the wash, they may not be able to completely dry from a normal cycle in the dryer. Check your washer settings to make sure it’s on the proper cycle and check for any potential malfunctions.
Beyond the Basics
If you haven’t been able to solve the problem of your dryer not drying after basic troubleshooting, you may need to investigate further. These tasks are more mechanically and technically involved, but simple enough for DIYers to try on their own.
Check the Drive Belt
Part of keeping the air flowing through your clothes is the tumbling feature. Your dryer spins the drum that holds the clothes with the help of a belt connected to the motor.
For more information about the importance of a spinning dryer and the steps to take to replace a dryer’s belt, check out our Why Isn’t My Dryer Spinning guide. Generally, the process involves opening up the top and front panels of the dryer, disengaging the belt from the motor and pulley, and replacing the old belt with a new one.
Check the Heating Element
As stated previously, your dryer makes big use out of heat and airflow to dry your clothes. In electric dryer units, air is heated by an electric heating element. In gas dryers the air is heated with a gas burner.
Check your heating element to make sure it’s heating the air. Make sure that the heating element is clean of any debris and that it isn’t touching other parts of the dryer. If the heating element isn’t working, you may need to replace it.
Check the Dryer Blower Wheel
Your dryer’s blower wheel is what gets air flowing. It pulls air from outside the dryer, blows it past the heating element to get hot, then flows through the drum and out the air vent. Rattling sounds and violent vibrating may be signs there are issues with the blower wheel. Try these steps to troubleshoot:
- Unplug the dryer and open up the back panel of your dryer to access the blower. You may need a screwdriver or socket wrench.
- With the back panel open, check the blower wheel for cracks or obstructions that may be keeping it from spinning.
- To remove the blower wheel, you may need to open up the dryer even more by separating the top and front panels away from the main dryer cabinet. Pull the drum off the drum bearing so that you have full access to the motor.
- Unscrew the blower wheel from the motor.
Replace the Thermal Fuse
The thermal fuse is a safety component on your dryer that keeps it from overheating. A blown thermal fuse may keep one or more (if not all) components of your dryer from working properly.
To change the thermal fuse:
- Unplug the dryer.
- Open the back panel of the dryer.
- Unscrew the thermal fuse that’s the cause of the dryer not drying. Replace with a new thermal fuse.
Replace the Motor
The dryer motor plays the important role of turning the blower wheel so that air flows through the dryer and spins the drum. A poorly working motor may result in your dryer getting hot but not drying your clothes.
If your motor isn’t running while still getting power to it, it may be time to replace the motor. This process will involve taking your dryer apart, including the front panel, top, rear panel, drum, and possibly more parts. Consult with your owner’s manual to find the right replacement motor for your dryer or contact a professional appliance technician.
Replace the Control Panel
This is where you set the timer, temperature level, and where you press start to get things rolling. If your dryer’s control panel isn’t working, the dryer won’t work properly. Read your owner’s manual for information about control panel components to order the correct replacement. It may be possible to replace single components of the control panel, such as the timer, rather than the whole panel.
Get a New Dryer
If common dryer maintenance tips don’t work, it may be time to consider a new dryer. When thinking about getting a new dryer consider its age. According to Goedeker’s Home Life, the lifespan of dryers is usually about 12-18 years. If you are having major issues with your dryer not drying, and the machine is getting close to that lifespan, it may be time to replace the dryer.
If, however, your dryer is relatively new, and you are confident that you can fix the dryer with reasonable costs, you may want to keep the dryer and simply repair it.
Having a working dryer is very convenient. To some, it may even be a necessity. A dryer not drying, on the other hand, can be extremely frustrating. We hope this guide helps you keep your dryer running well so that you can have clean, fresh clothes whenever you like. For more information on how HWA might help you, or to better understand if you need a home warranty, call us at 1-888-492-7359.