5 Common Clothes Dryer Problems

Question 1: Why does my dryer do nothing when I turn it on?

Answer 1: Plug something else into the same outlet. If it works, you know you have power to the dryer. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to check for any blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers. Electric dryers should have the wiring checked at the terminal block to make sure that the connection is good, or to verify that the connection is burnt out.

If the power is there, you will want to check the door switch, thermal fuse, thermostats, and start switch to see if one of these is faulty. Make sure that the control settings are appropriate, and that any buttons are fully depressed. Make sure that the start button has been fully pushed down or turned far enough to activate the dryer.

The door or lid switch performs two main functions. When the dryer door is open, it keeps the dryer from starting, and turns on the light. If the door switch is faulty, your dryer won’t work, and you’ll need to replace the switch. The door switch is located inside of your dryer’s main housing right by the door frame. You’ll probably need to access this switch through the top or front of your dryer.

There may also be a problem with the start switch. Test and replace if it is faulty.

Many dryers use what’s called a thermal fuse. This is often mounted within the exhaust duct in the back panel. This fuse is about an inch long, and is usually found within a white plastic housing. Your dryer will not operate if this fuse is defective. You can test this fuse, and if faulty, replace it.

Most fuses have a thin wire that conducts electricity. When fuses blow, it means the wire is broken, they have no continuity and no power will flow through it. When this happens to the thermal fuse, your dryer either doesn’t work at all, or it stops heating. Give your vent and heating system a visual check before you replace this fuse.

You will also want to test each thermostat to determine if any one is faulty. A bad thermostat may prevent your dryer from working at all.

Question 2: Why is there no heat in my dryer? 

Answer 2: If your dryer is not getting any heat, you need to make sure there is nothing blocking the front of the dryer. Air flow is key to efficient drying. Make sure the dryer settings are appropriate for the clothes you want to dry. The timer selection, fabric selection, and the temperature selection all play important roles in proper dryer operation.

Check the heating element, burner operation, ignitor, thermal fuse, and the wiring (power cord).

Visually inspect your heating element for any broken or burned areas. The heating element is a coil made from a nickel-chrome alloy, called nichrome. Check the coil for continuity with a Volt Ohm Meter. If there’s no continuity, it means that the element is bad and you need to replace it. An electric dryer should have it’s own separate power line.

When the burner is operating properly, the flame should be clean and blue.

If the ignitor is cycling without the burner lighting, you probably have defective electrical coils in the gas valve. These coils look like black cylinders with wires coming out the top of them, and are located near the burner valve assembly. When they get power, they open up and allow the gas to get through to the burner. If this is a new installation, make sure the gas valve is turned on.

If the ignitor doesn’t glow, look for a white or yellowish discoloration, or for a break in the ignitor. If this is something visible, just replace the ignitor. If there are no obvious signs of a break or burnt area, test it for continuity. If the ignitor doesn’t have this type of problem, you’ll need to determine if the problem is in the control area, or somewhere else within the burner system. Test for 110v getting to your burner assembly.

Here’s a test you can perform: Unplug your dryer and then open up the burner inspection panel. Unplugging your burner assembly unit, you want to connect your jumpers for the Volt Ohm Meter to the dryer side of the assembly, not the burner side. Keeping your Ohm meter wires away from the drum area, set the timer to on, set the controls to high heat, and then plug the dryer back in. If there is 110v in this area, you can assume the thermostats in this area are good. If not, a timer, motor centrifugal switch, or other thermostat may be your culprit.

To protect from over-heating, many dryers use what’s commonly called a thermal fuse. If the thermal fuse gets too hot, it will blow, and completely shut down your dryer until it is replaced. This fuse is often mounted within the exhaust duct in the back panel. It’s about an inch long, and is usually found within a white plastic housing. When fuses blow, it means they have no continuity and no power will flow through it. A bad thermal fuse needs to be replaced. When replacing this fuse, check the dryer vents to make sure there is no lint buildup which can cause the heat to stay trapped and blow the fuse again.

You should visually inspect the wiring connections to the dryer from the house regularly. If you’re opening the dryer case, give the wiring inside a good visual check as well. Lastly, never use an extension cord to operate this appliance. An electric dryer draws a lot of power, and the shorter the wiring to it, the better. The power cord connects to a terminal block in the back of an electric dryer. Sometimes this terminal can get burned out or ground to the dryer. Make sure the power is turned off, and look for scorching, burned, or broken connections. For electric dryers, one broken connection might allow the dryer drum and timer to operate, but there would be no heat.

Question 3: Why doesn’t my dryer drum tumble?

Answer 3: There are a few things that will keep the drum from tumbling, the belt being broken or slipping badly, the motor being seized, or worn support parts.

Dryers have a belt that turns the drum. If the belt is worn or broken, it can’t move the drum. Just replace the belt, and while you’re doing that, you may want to check the idler pulley. Wear on the idler pulley can cause the belt to break. Worn out glides and rollers can also create extra stress on the belt by making the drum harder to turn. If the drum is harder to turn, the extra stress could have broken the belt.

Normally, you can hear the motor running, especially if it’s the belt or idler pulley that’s the problem. If you don’t hear the motor, and you hear a buzzing sound instead, the motor may be seized and you’ll probably need to replace the motor or motor start capacitor. Remove the belt, then check for any blockages in the blower fan housing and try to turn the shaft on the motor by hand.

If it’s too hard or impossible to turn the motor shaft, and the blower fan housing has no obstructions; odds are that you need to replace the motor.

If the motor turns easily, run it for a few seconds. If it runs good without the belt, you may have a problem with the idler pulley or the drum rollers. Try rotating the drum by hand. If it’s hard to move, fix any problem with the idler pulley, glides, or drum rollers, reassemble the dryer, and test it again.


Question 4: Why is my dryer so noisy?
Answer 4: There are several things that can cause a dryer to be noisy. There are a lot of moving parts in a dryer that can cause noises to occur when they get worn. Several parts support the drum, and may make noise or vibrations when worn out. Many times a dryer will squeak just a little bit as it first starts. This should go away in just a few seconds. Make sure nothing is loose inside the drum. Remove the lint trap and look below the lint trap holder for any loose items that may have slipped through the cracks.

The blower wheel is always moving and lint is constantly going by it. If it’s noisy, it may have gotten clogged with lint, or it may be worn and need to be replaced. Clean out the area around the blower. If it’s still noisy, replace it.

Many dryers use a center spindle to support the clothes drum. This spindle may be a ball-and-socket support, or it may be a shaft inside a sleeve. When these component bearings get worn out, they may make a squealing or rubbing sound. Replace this bearing when it gets worn out. Many dryers also use plastic glides in the front end of the clothes drum. When these glides are worn out, you may hear a lot of noise. If the glides are worn, replace them as a set.

Some dryers use rollers to support the clothes drum. If these rollers or wheels are worn out, they can be extremely noisy. You ought to replace the whole set at the same time. A belt that has been damaged or frayed may make a thumping or slapping sound as the drum turns.

The gas valve solenoid will make a buzz type of sound as it opens. The valve itself will give a little click as it starts the heat cycle, when ignition begins, and when the burner is turning off. The burner flame itself makes kind of a low-pitched roaring wind sound.

Question 5: Why are my clothes wrinkled?
Answer 5: The biggest cause of wrinkles is leaving the clothes in the dryer after they’re done tumbling. Other reasons for wrinkling include: improper sorting of the laundry, no fabric softener, too many or too few items to tumble properly, improper wash and dry cycles, wrong water level, and using water that’s too hot for the material.

To prevent and get rid of wrinkles you can: remove clothes promptly from the dryer and either hang or fold them, dry only one load at a time, don’t pack the dryer too full, do not dry heavy items with light items, use the permanent press cycle to give clothes a cool down cycle at the end to reduce wrinkling, and lastly, you can always rewash and dry the clothes properly.
For more Appliance repair help, and all your appliance part needs, visit www.apwagner.com

19 thoughts on “5 Common Clothes Dryer Problems

  1. Jeana Bethany

    if i remove the fuses, the dryer will heat, but it is getting hot and blowing fuses…….what should we look at beyond fuses?

    Reply
  2. apwagner Post author

    Jeana this might help.

    Electric dryers require the use of a 220 volt line. The dryer heating elements run off of 220 volts. An excessive draw of electricity, or a short in the wiring can blow a fuse or trip a breaker. This happens to protect sensitive components from damage, and to help prevent fires. Every other dryer component operates off of 110 volts, the timer, motor, etc. Usually when a fuse blows or a circuit trips, it’s because there’s to much draw on the power line.
    It is very possible for one part of your dryer to work fine, and yet another to have a problem, such as a short circuit. A short circuit may be caused by the heating element, internal wiring, or the main power cord.

    To troubleshoot this problem, unplug the dryer and check to see if the circuit breaker or fuse remains on when the dryer is unplugged. If they stay on, it’s more than likely the problem is somewhere in the dryer.

    If your fuse blows, or the circuit breaker trips when the dryer is unplugged, it’s likely the problem is with the circuit breaker, fuse box, or house wiring; contact a professional electrician.

    Reply
  3. Tony

    Sears Kenmore Electric Dryer Model 110.86879100:
    Dryer runs, but no heat.
    There is a schematic on the back, but I don’t know which parts are which. Is there a photo file someplace that describes the various parts?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  4. apwagner Post author

    For Sears, the only place to see breakdowns of the models is the Sears website. Any parts distributor can sell the parts though. If you enter the names of the products into our google search, you will see some examples. The first thing they should check is the thermal fuse.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Common Appliance Problems « APWagner Appliance Parts Blog

  6. Beaudie Cullen

    I have a fisher & paykel clothes dryer AD55AU and it have just stopped working. I have checked the power point and plugged into other working points with no start. I would appreciate anyone that might be able to help me, weather its not worth fixing or worth purchasing a part and fixing myself, it have been a good dryer prior to this point.

    Reply
  7. Beaudie Cullen

    thank you for this information I am going to go through the first steps and let you know how I go, thanks again.

    Reply
  8. sam

    my whirlpool dryer makes a terrible squeaking noise but only when it has clothes in it. I called sears and they said that the pulley could be bad but when i looked online it said something about the drum parts being bad. I dont have a lot of money and i dont want to go buy parts that i dont need so i was wanting a second opinion. The model number is ler4634jq1. thanks for your help

    Reply
  9. Jason

    I have a weird problem I can’t find specifically on any forums… I have a GE model dwsr483eg8ww dryer that won’t turn over completely. It sounds normal when trying to start but won’t actually start turning on it’s own. However, if I hold the door switch down and spin the drum manually it will start and run just fine. How can I fix this? Thanks!

    Reply
  10. John

    I have a Maytag MDE5200 drier, recently it has been leaving black rubber like stains (streaks) on the clothes it is drying. Anyone come across this problem and how to fix it?

    Reply
  11. joe

    umm I rewired my dryer from a weird 4 prong to a 3 prong plug , everything was working great for months until I moved the dryer ten feet across the room , I placed the hose up to the window sill , the sill does have a metal frame .. and turned the dryer on .. well strangest thing happened .. the damn hose started sparking with electricity ???? how can this even be possible ?

    I know .. strange .. but true there we’re literal arch’s of electrical current snapping like and open wire .. still confused ..

    Reply
    1. joe johnson

      when you rewired your dryer you must have removed a ground wire so now your dryer is trying to ground itself through the vent its a bad ground so it will spark be carefull it your a better ground then the window frame you will get 220 volt through you. I’m not an electrical trades man but I’m guessing thats whats going on without seeing it. hope I could help its it has been way to long to answer.

      Reply
  12. Kelvin

    So I take my dryer to Defy for repairs. The Dryer Drum does not turn but its hums and does heat up. I checked the belt and it is still in tact. Everytime I close the door the little fan starts turnign then it stops. Now Defy says that the motor, pulley, fan and Capacator must be replaced at R990. This does not make sense!!!

    Reply
  13. Linda Van Zant

    My Kenmore dryer heats, but shuts off by itself before the cycle is over. It seems to be overheating and then shuts itself off. I was told by a serviceman that the motor is going out and will have to be replaced which will cost as much as a new dryer. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. apwagner Post author

      Linda,

      Thank you so much for writing to us here. We have posted two different web pages that could be useful for you in trying to troubleshoot these problems. We can’t guarantee this will permanently help but possibly this could point you in the right direction and save you some money. Also, most of these tips have been time tested and can be reliable.

      http://www.apwagner.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=580

      http://www.ehow.com/how_5147881_troubleshoot-kenmore-electric-dryers.html

      Hope this can help in some way feel free to respond back

      Best
      APWagner

      Reply
  14. Shannon Kaaekuahiwi

    A sock slid down the dryer lint trap. I tried to fish it out by using a straightened out wire hanger with a hook on the end, but didn’t work. Turned on dryer to see if it works and it does and doesn’t make noise. Is it safe to use?

    Reply
  15. Lacey

    Everytime I run my dryer the power in the whole house goes out! If I unplug everything and don’t run anything I can get through drying a load and a half of laundry. Is the problem fixable? Or is a new dryer in order?

    Reply
  16. Victoria

    The dryer door switch was stuck so I pried it out and then replaced the spring. When I put it together and tested it, it sparked ( I think the metal wire was touching the frame) and now the dryer won’t work at all. What part would have been damaged and needs replacement or repair?

    Reply

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