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My Dryer Won’t Start: What’s Wrong?

a stackable washer and dryer

It’s laundry day. You gather up the dirty clothes, towels and linens and spend hours washing them, only to find the dryer won’t start. There could be a simple reason why your dryer has stopped working. Let’s go through the most common causes behind this issue and how you can troubleshoot them.

If you’ve tried everything and it’s still not working an appliance repair specialist can come to your rescue. The appliance technician will diagnose the issue and have your dryer turning out warm and fluffy clothes again.

Possible Reasons Your Dryer Will Not Start

There are various reasons why your dryer won’t start. Some are easy to diagnose, while others need more detective work. If you can’t get to the bottom of things, you can always let an appliance repair professional take over.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

The first thing you should check if your dryer isn’t running is the circuit breaker. It may have tripped if you’re using various large appliances simultaneously. If they’re off, reset them. Another simple solution homeowners tend to overlook is plugging in the dryer. The cord may have been unplugged or loose.

Tripped Thermal Fuse

A thermal fuse is one of the most common culprits behind many dryer problems. It’s a safety feature that prevents overheating, and a clogged dryer vent usually sets it off. The thermal fuse is either inside the blower housing or near the heat source (the burner on gas models or the heating element on electric ones).

The thermal dryer should have continuity, meaning electricity can flow through it. A professional can use a multimeter tester to check for this. Clean the vent and replace the thermal fuse if the dryer has no continuity.

Malfunctioning Start Switch

If the circuit breaker and thermal fuse didn’t trip, it might be a start switch issue. Fortunately, it’s easy to confirm this. Turn on the dryer and see if you hear a humming sound. If you do, the start switch works. But if there’s no humming, a professional will need to test the start switch with a multimeter. If the start switch doesn’t have continuity, it’s time to get a replacement.

Faulty Door Switch

A malfunctioning door switch might be to blame if your dryer won’t start. Inspect the door switch’s plastic peg and see if it clicks. That’s what activates the dryer when you close the door. If there’s no click, check if the peg is bent and straighten it. It might be time to replace the door switch if the peg isn’t deformed, but the dryer still won’t run.

Broken Drive Belt

Your dryer can’t spin with a broken drive belt. To check if this is the problem, open the door and try turning the dryer drum by hand. If it moves with too much ease, that confirms that the drive belt has snapped. Another telltale sign is if the motor is running, but the dryer drum won’t turn. The only way to resolve this issue is to replace it with a new one.

Malfunctioning Drive Motor

If the dryer drum isn’t turning, the drive motor might be overloaded, worn out or broken. To check, a professional can detach the belt from the drive motor and see if there are obstructions around the blower wheel. They will then remove any visible blockages. If there are none, the drive motor is probably on its last leg and needs a replacement.

Worn Out Drum Rollers or Axles

The dryer drum has small wheels underneath that hold it in place as it turns. These wheels wear down over time and don’t roll as smoothly. To check, open the door and see if there’s a space between the drum and the back wall. You likely need new rollers if there’s a gap.

You can further confirm this by contacting a professional to closely examine the wheels. They will unplug the dryer, detach the lid and remove the belt. Next, they will rotate the drum and feel if the wheels get stuck. If they do, they will replace them. Aside from the wheels, the axles can wear down, too. If these shafts wobble when the dryer drum is turned, it’s time to purchase new ones.

Power Issue

If you’ve checked all the dryer parts, and they don’t seem to have any problems, it might be a power issue. You can confirm this by unplugging the dryer and plugging another device or appliance into the same outlet. If it doesn’t turn on either, there’s a problem with the fuse or circuit breaker.

Dryer Timer Issue

Dryer timers are rarely the problem, but it’s still worth considering, especially if there are no issues with the other parts. Contact an appliance repair specialist if you suspect this may be an issue.

The causes of dryer problems aren’t always easy to pinpoint. And even if you successfully diagnose the issue, professionals should replace the broken parts. If you’re stumped, turn to the pros for help. Appliance repair specialists have the tools and expertise to get your dryer up and running again. Specialists can also help if you notice your dryer is not heating.

a dryer

How to Clean a Dryer

Proper maintenance can do wonders for your dryer since not regularly removing lint, fibers and dust can lead to early breakdown. If you want to use your dryer for as long as possible, here are some cleaning tips to keep it in tip-top shape.

Keep the Lint Trap Clean

One of the most destructive mistakes homeowners make is to let lint accumulate inside the lint trap. Make it a habit to remove trapped lint inside the mesh screen. You can use a toothbrush and warm soapy water to clean the buildup. That will improve airflow and allow your dryer to run more efficiently. More importantly, it lessens the chances of house fires. It’s also good to detach the lint trap and vacuum the nooks and crannies around it.

Remove Lint From the Ductwork and Dryer Vent

Proper maintenance involves cleaning the dryer vent. That includes the ductwork that attaches it to the vent outside. Use a long-stemmed lint brush to clean these openings. Homeowners should also inspect and clean the outdoor vent. Lint can get trapped if it doesn’t open and close properly, increasing the chances of a fire. Use the same brush and clear any lint and dirt in and around the opening.

Wipe the Dryer Drum

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets leave a residue that can clog the lint trap. It can also form a layer of gunk on the dryer drum’s walls. That means your clothes and bed sheets might not be as clean as you think. You can prevent this by creating a cleaning solution that’s 50 percent water and 50 percent white vinegar. Spray it on the dryer drum and wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. Leave the door open for a few minutes to let the inside dry.

Wipe the Exterior

Finish off by wiping the exterior with the same white vinegar-water cleaning solution. That will remove dust and unsightly fingerprint smudges, restoring your dryer to its pristine state.

a dryer

Why Is My Dryer Squeaking?

Dryers typically don’t make too much noise, so it’s easy to notice if yours is making unusual sounds. If it’s squeaking, that’s a sign of wear and tear you shouldn’t ignore. Here are some of the most common reasons behind a squeaking dryer.

The Wheels or Bearings Need Lubrication

The best-case scenario is that the wheels and bearings underneath the dryer just need some lubrication. If your dryer has screw-in legs, tightening the screws can eliminate the annoying squeaking sound.

Cracked Dryer Belt

The temperature inside a dryer can get very high, and it can cause the dryer belt to crack. If the squeaking sound is coming from the upper portion of the dryer, you likely have a damaged dryer belt. A professional will need to replace this part.

The Idler Pulley Has Lost Its Traction

If the squeaking sound is coming from the lower portion of the dryer, the idler pulley might be loose or broken. Sometimes, it’s enough to replace the wheel. But other times, the problem calls for a complete pulley replacement. A professional can advise you on the best solution.

Faulty Motor

Squeaking or grinding sounds at the back of the dryer could mean the bearings are faulty or the motor is failing. Grinding bearings can eventually break the dryer motor if left unaddressed. If that happens, you won’t be able to turn on your dryer at all. Contact an appliance repair specialist to replace the malfunctioning parts.

Contact the Pros for Your Dryer Problems

Get the most out of your investment by taking proper care of your dryer. Clean it regularly and inspect its parts for wear and tear. Contact an appliance repair professional if you notice any signs of damage. The appliance technician will assess the situation and perform the necessary repairs or replacements.

ABC Can Get Your Dryer Working Again

If your dryer won’t start, 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. They can also help with other issues you may be having, like if you notice your dryer smells.

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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