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Dryer Not Drying

Updated on September 9, 2012

Fixing Dryer Problems

Begin by doing a few basic checks

Is your clothes Dryer not drying? Well the problem could be any one of several things and in this trouble shooting tutorial I will guide you through the steps so that you may possibly solve the problem yourself. First let’s examine the problem from the beginning. Drying requires three basic things in combination. Those three things are; heat source, clothes rotation, and good air flow. If you tackle the problem by the process of elimination you will save a lot of time, frustration, and most importantly, money. Let's examine the problem in 3 simple steps which will give you a better understanding of clothes dryers and which might also lead to a solution to your problem.

Step 1. When most people call a service technician they say “my Dryer is not drying” but to a technician that could mean a lot of things. It’s like saying “my car starts but it cannot drive” to an auto mechanic. Dryers need to rotate the clothes so that hot air can flow through them and extract moisture. If the dryer runs that eliminates one of the three basic requirements for drying. To check if the dryer is running you can listen to the noise it makes as it turns. Just because it may light up on the console does not necessarily mean that it’s turning. Another way to tell if the drum inside is turning is to turn the dryer on then open the door. You should see the drum as it is stopping.

If the drum is turning then go on to Step 2 below but if the drum is not turning then either the belt that drives the drum is broken or something is jamming the motor and preventing it from going. Again, Dryers need good clothes circulation in order for the clothes to dry. This is achieved by the circulation of the Drum and the Baffles inside the Drum that keep the clothes from bunching up. So if the drum is not turning then the clothes will not dry. First let’s examine the possibility that the motor is either jammed or dead. If the motor is jammed it could be caused by a blockage of the blower fan that drives the heat through the dryer.

Open the dryer door and manually try to turn the drum with your hand. If you cannot manually turn the drum then the motor is either ceased up or something is binding the system. In most dryers you can tell when the motor is seized up or binding by pressing the Start Button and listening carefully to the sound the motor will make as it starts. It should make a loud humming noise then click off as the internal safety thermostat cuts off the current to prevent overheating and causing a fire. At this point the best thing to do is to take the dryer apart and manually inspect the cause. As stated before the problem could be as simple as a socks or article of clothing jamming the Blower fan or the motor itself is dead.

If the drum turns when you manually try to turn it then your problem is usually a broken belt. Most dryers will not run with a broken belt, meaning the motor will not operate for safety reasons. Some dryers will still run with a broken belt however, which is dangerous because this situation could result in a fire due to the heat source being concentrated in one area. If you want to proceed with replacing the belt yourself then do so. Just be careful to observe how you take things apart so you will be able to put it back together. If you are not confident then call a technician.

Check Belt and Blower Fan

The Drum is turning but there is no heat

Step 2. The Drum is turning but there is no heat. The first thing to check in this case is the power supply to the dryer. Most Dryers with the exception of some small apartment size Dryers operate on 240V power. The Motor and most other electrical parts in a Dryer operate on 120V while the Heating Element operates on 240V. Power coming into the Dryer splits into 120V + 120V which = 240V. One of those 120Vs can blow out which results in the machine still running but the Heating Element not working. Check your house fuses at your fuse panel. The Dryer Fuse or Circuit Breaker is 30A(amps). Also, use a Voltmeter to check that the outlet receptacle that the Dryer pugs into has 240V power.

If the power supply is good then the problem could be a variety of things internally. It could be a blown thermostat, burnt wiring, blown Heating Element, or a relay and switching problem. (Note) Unless you are confident to proceed with repairing any of these electrical related problems you should call a qualified service technician. The most common heating related problem is a defective thermostat or blown Thermo-Fuse. What’s the difference? Thermostats cycle on and off while Thermo-Fuses blow and do not re-set. Both types are located on the internal ducts and on the Heating Element housing.

Both Thermostats and Thermo-Fuses are (Normally Closed) meaning if you were to disconnect the wires from them and check them with a Ohm Meter you would get continuity unless they are blown. I will go into more detail in a later article on how to find and change the most common Thermo-Fuse that blows out. The next possible electrical problem to check is for burnt wiring. First check the power cord prongs for burning, corrosion, and tarnish. Any damage to the power cord can cause diminished current flow which causes heat all throughout the circuit. Remember (resistance produces heat).

Next, check for burnt wiring at the Terminal Block, Motor Switch, and Heating Element. Finally, check the Heating Element itself. If after checking all those things you still cannot locate the heating problem then the problem could be in the switching circuit which includes the Timer, Relays, and Motor Switch assembly. You will then need to use the machines Schematic Diagram to trace the circuitry to determine where there is a fault. If the machine is heating and the Drum is turning but the clothes are still not drying then the problem is probably in the air circulation system.

Check your venting system

Did you check the Air flow

Step 3. We have established that the Dryer is running and heating but the clothes are not drying. This condition is very common and is often the simplest to fix. Remember drying requires good air circulation therefore any hindrance to air flow whether from the source to the exit will definitely cause a problem. The first task is to locate and clean all lint screens in the Dryer and in the Duct System including the Vent Hood outside. Start inside the Dryer itself. Debris and small articles of clothing often build up in the Blower Fan housing. Remove the Lint Screen and use a Flashlight to look down into the Lint Compartment/Blower Fan Housing. If there is a visible build up of dirt and debris you will have to dis-assemble the Dryer compartment to clean it all out.

After fully cleaning the Dryer it’s time to move on to the duct work. Insure that the duct pipe that exits the Dryer is not kinked or collapsed smaller than 4” inches in diameter. Also remove the pipe from the back of the dryer and shake out any dirt that has built up inside. If the duct is the flexible type and it’s brittle or hard to clean it should be replaced. In some cases many people living in Condominium Apartments don’t realize that there is a secondary screen in the duct pipe that exits the Dryer. Locate and clean any secondary filter or screen that is in the duct before the duct disappears into the wall or ceiling.

Next it’s time to go outside and check the air flow. Turn the Dryer on and go outside, locate the Dryer Vent Hood, and check the air flow by holding your hand over the opening. Depending on the length of the duct from the Dryer to the outside the air flow should be no less than about 75% of what it would be if you held your hand over the opening at the back of the Dryer itself. If the air flow is significantly less then your duct work needs cleaning. If you cannot clean the duct yourself then there are many companies that specialize in duct cleaning. It is recommended to clean Dryer ducts every few years as excessive lint build up is a fire hazard.

Well there you have it. If your Dryer is not drying and you want to save on expensive repairs, what you should do first is perform some basic checks before you call a repair technician. Check to make sure that it is actually running (Drum turning by motor power), check to make sure that it is heating properly and finally, check your exhaust system from start to finish to insure that there is good air flow. The problem could be something very simple and inexpensive that you can fix yourself. Post all inquiries below and they will be answered.


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    • profile image

      Candice Harding 

      4 years ago

      This hub is a great resource. It can be difficult to know when you need to call in a technician. I have been lucky in the past when I needed my dryer ducts replaced. I worked with some great professionals who offered 24 hour services and consultations to help figure out what repairs are needed as quickly as possible.

      Candice Harding


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