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Troubleshooting an Electric Dryer That Won't Run

Updated on December 13, 2016

Check the Power

  1. It is important that the dryer has the power on. It might seems ridiculous to you, but I can't tell you how many times I went on a service call to repair a dryer and the circuit breaker was turned off or had tripped into an off mode. I was paid $69.95 plus tax to turn the circuit breaker on. Do you want to pay this? If you do, please give me your address. I'll be right over.
  2. Seriously, make sure the power is on. Sometimes there is something wrong with the power or circuit breaker. The best way to see if there is power to the dryer is to use a voltage detector. This is a very safe tool to use and every household should have one.
  3. Follow all safety precautions!

Identify Your Dryer

These are instructions for an electric dryer made by Whirlpool, Kenmore, Roper, Kitchen Aid, Estate, and Kirkland. These dryers are unmistakable because they have signature lint filter through the top.

Is the door closed tightly? Is the timer set to 30 minutes on the timed cycle? What happens when you press (or turn) the start switch? Do you hear any sounds?

Look, Listen, and Observe!

  1. Make sure the room is quiet. The sounds you hear or don't hear will help you figure out what is wrong with your dryer. Now is the time for listening. You have to get close to your inner self. Well that probably won't help fix the dryer, but it will help you feel better.
  2. Let's start with the start button (sometimes a knob). Press the button: what do you hear? Is there a clicking? Does the button feel loose? The knob should feel firm and should click slightly when depressed. If the button operates this way, it is probably good (low probability of bad switch).
  3. Is there a loud buzzing sound? This indicates that the timer is set in an end of cycle setting. Advance the timer to 30 minutes in the timed cycle. Try the start button. If the dryer starts, that indicates that you have located the problem.
  4. Is there a low humming sound coming from inside the dryer? This is almost certainly coming from the motor. Something may have gotten into the blower and is stopping the motor. The most likely cause is a bad motor. This is best left for a service technician.
  5. Listen to the timer as you advance it. You should hear a series of clicks, especially at the end of the cycle. This sound is the timer contacts turning the dryer on and off. If you don't hear these sounds there could be one of two problems: 1. The knob is bad and is not turning the timer mechanism. Take the knob off and inspect it for cracks and breaks. If it is not advancing the timer mechanism, the dryer will not work. 2. The timer is bad. Keep this in mind as you check a few other items.

Door Switch

Door actuator
Door actuator
Door Switch from inside the dryer
Door Switch from inside the dryer

Door Switch

Every dryer has a door switch that is activated by a button or actuator. Open the door of the dryer and look for the lever sticking down through the case. Press the lever—do you hear a clicking sound? This lever actuates a door switch and is spring loaded. If the lever is broken or you do not hear a click, then the switch and actuator needs to be replaced.

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      imelda 19 months ago

      my dryer would not start but noted it did put out heat and I could hear the motor humming,the drum would not turn. Looked and located that little metal clip on the door. Ispected the door and noted a lot of lint stuck to the rubber tubing around the door. Cleansed all the lint off, turned the start button and Wow! it worked. I was ready to go by a new one. Thanks Lord for helping me out here.

    • profile image

      jesse 2 years ago

      Feel heat but dryer won't ran

    • profile image

      Michelle 6 years ago

      When press "Start" botton all you hear is a humming noise. Wont start

    • SteveoMc profile image
      Author

      SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @Questworx Your dryer door switch actuator is broken. Look under the top to see which switch to order. Some are all in one and others have plug spades. If you have an interior light, you have three wires, if you don't then you have a two wire switch. All in one, you need to replace the whole thing, the other one you can just replace the actuator. Amazon has these for about $6 or $7.

    • SteveoMc profile image
      Author

      SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

    • Questworx profile image

      Questworx 6 years ago from Littleton, Colorado

      Kirkland Whirlpool dryer... won't start... did start if door was slammed... so I think it is the door switch. There is no button that looks like a trigger. Is it in the latch itself?

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      submithereuk@yahoo.co.uk 7 years ago

      Zanussi Door Seal Fix. Zanussi 1250. WJS 1397W. TurboDry ...

      These Tips may not be suitable for any other Models of Washing Machines or Washer Dryers. ... The Zanussi-Electrolux Website. Zanussi 1250. WJS 1397W. TurboDry