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Why Is My Dryer Not Heating?

a white dryer that is not heating

Have you started running your clothes through the dryer multiple times? Does it seem like your dryer isn’t even heating at all? If your dryer isn’t drying clothes as well as it used to, there are a number of things that could be causing this problem.

For one, your problem might not have anything to do with the dryer. If your washer isn’t working as it should, then it might not strain enough water out of your clothes before you transfer them to the dryer. When this happens, the dryer might need to run longer to dry out these sopping wet clothes.

Fortunately, there might be some easy fixes you can try on your own to get your dryer working again.

Simple Fixes

You can run into issues if you’re trying to dry different types of items at the same time. For example, towels and clothes. Most clothing items dry quicker than towels. If you combine these items, it can be difficult for the dryer to work as it should.

It’s also possible that your dryer isn’t getting the power it needs to run. A simple thing to check is whether the dryer is plugged in securely. On occasion, some appliance plugs can work their way free from the outlet, especially if your dryer shakes or vibrates.

The next thing to check is your home’s breaker box. There is a chance that the breaker switch could have flipped to the “off” position in the middle of the drying cycle. If the breaker switch for the dryer has flipped to the “off” position, switch it back to “on” to see if that fixes your problem.

Another possibility is that a clogged lint screen is keeping your dryer from working. That’s why it’s important to clean the lint filter each time you do laundry. Not only can a clogged filter keep your dryer from working well, but it can also lead to serious issues. If a build-up of lint spills into the vent, it can become a fire hazard.

If none of these simple solutions work, then it’s likely that one or more components in the dryer has failed. In this case, it’s best to hire an appliance repair technician who can come out to see what is going on. Dryer repair isn’t a job for the average homeowner for many reasons. This kind of repair involves removing panels and delicate mechanical parts. Not to mention, dealing with the high levels of electricity.

An experienced pro has the training and tools to investigate dryer issues. A pro can safely and effectively repair any problems you might be facing. Some of the most common dryer problems that a professional will check for include the following.

A Faulty Thermostat

Dryers have a high limit thermostat and a cycling thermostat. If either of these is faulty, it can disrupt your dryer’s ability to do its job.

The high limit thermostat is a type of safety measure that’s meant to prevent the dryer from overheating. If the exhaust vent gets clogged, then the high limit thermostat on the heating chamber will flip. This prevents the heating element or gas valve from powering on. Over time, this component can wear out, which can keep your dryer from heating like it should.

The high limit thermostat activates when something is wrong. On the other hand, the cycling thermostat should activate every time you use your dryer. Keep in mind, the cycling thermostat will also wear out at some point. This thermostat, which sits in the dryer’s internal airflow ducting, turns the heating element on and off. Essentially, this thermostat maintains the temperature inside the dryer’s drum. In some electric dryers, there are temperature sensors that work in a similar way to a cycling thermostat. So, the dryer uses this sensor to control the temperature instead.

A Failed Heating Element

Electric dryers depend on a coil that has electric current flowing through it. This coil produces the heat the appliance needs to dry clothes. When this heating element gets damaged or wears out, then the dryer won’t work.

Gas dryers also have a type of coil, but they work a little differently. In a gas dryer, the coils are responsible for opening the gas control valve, which then releases gas into the burner. At this point, the igniter or glow bar ignites the gas, which produces the heat needed to make the dryer work. If any of these heating elements breaks or goes out, then the gas dryer might not work at all or might only work for part of the drying cycle.

A Broken Sensor

In gas dryers, the radiant flame sensor helps trigger the heating process and also works as a kind of safety measure. This sensor works by detecting heat from the igniter and burner flame to open the gas valve and to keep it open. However, if the sensor is defective or worn out, then the electrical contacts in the component might stick closed and disrupt the heating process.

A Crushed Vent Hose or Another Vent Blockage

If you have to run the dryer twice to get clothes dry, then you might have a crushed vent hose behind the dryer. Or, there could be a blockage in the hose inside the wall. This hose pushes air out of your dryer. So if air can’t exit out through that hose, then no air can circulate back into the dryer.

Similarly, if the venting has a blockage or is dirty at any point in the system, then it can disrupt the airflow. A common reason that vents get blocked is if you don’t clean your lint filter very often.

A Malfunctioning Thermal Fuse 

Similar to the fuses in your home’s breaker box, dryers usually have fuses as well. These fuses help prevent the appliance from overheating. When this thermal fuse in the dryer blows, the fuse must be replaced before the dryer will work again.

If you are dealing with any of the appliance problems outlined above, your best option is typically to contact a pro. They will have the right tools and expertise to make sure that your dryer works again. They can also help if your issue has nothing to do with your dryer, but instead has something to do with your washing machine, such as a clogged drain from your washing machine.

However, we also mentioned there are some easy fixes, such as cleaning your lint filter. But, what if you’ve waited too long and you now have a clogged dryer vent?

a stainless steel dryer with a clogged vent

How To Prevent Clogged Dryer Vents

A clogged or dirty dryer vent can keep your clothes from getting dry, can make your dryer smell and can create a serious risk for you and your family. These clogged vents are one of the most common causes of deadly and costly housefires. However, it’s typically pretty easy to reduce this risk through routine maintenance.

The best way to deal with a clogged dryer vent is to work to prevent the vent from clogging in the first place. Everything from lint to dirt can build up in the vent. To prevent this have the vent and the vent screen cleaned at least once every three or four years. If the vent is long, then you might need to have it cleaned even more often. Dryer vent cleaning is a service that you can schedule in advance and have an appliance specialist perform as part of a routine maintenance visit for your home.

If you already have a clogged dryer vent, the best thing to do is to contact a reputable appliance repair pro. Most homeowners can typically clean the vent screen with the knowledge and tools they have on hand. However, for vent duct cleaning, it’s best to hire a professional to handle this task. Most dryer vents run through the roof, the floor or other hard to reach places. Pros have the skills and specialized tools needed to locate these vents and help get your system up and running as soon as possible.

a washer and dryer

What Is My Dryer’s Lifespan?

No matter how well you take care of your appliances, they will eventually stop working at a certain point. With dryers, their components are only able to last for so long. So, if the dryer is just not heating anymore, it might mean that it’s at the end of its service life.

The average age of a properly maintained dryer is usually around ten to fifteen years. However, in order for a dryer to last this long, you typically make minor repairs along the way, such as replacing dryer components. It’s also important to clean out the lint screen after each use, regularly clean the dryer vents and keep up with any other maintenance needed for your specific appliance.

Nonetheless, it can be difficult for many homeowners to keep track of this maintenance schedule when there are so many other important things going on in life. That’s why the best way to lengthen the lifespan of your washer and dryer is to hire an appliance expert.

These pros can complete any dryer-related tasks for you as part of a regular maintenance check on your home, so you don’t have to deal with it. If there’s a problem with your dryer, an appliance repair expert can also save you precious time by quickly figuring out what’s wrong. Then, they can give you the information to decide whether to fix the issue or to buy a new dryer.

ABC Can Get Your Dryer Working Again

If your dryer won’t heat, it can greatly disrupt your life. Instead of letting your laundry pile up, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our licensed professionals will quickly diagnose your appliance problem and then make all needed repairs.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

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