Clothes Dryer Troubleshooting

Clothes dryer troubleshooting is worth the effort when you consider that a simple repair could cost hundreds less than a new machine. It can also save money on service calls, since you'll know exactly what to tell the repairman before he arrives. Even if you've never done it before, it's a fairly simple process. Just remember the first rule of servicing any appliance: unplug it before you start working.

Machine spins but there is no heat:
A number of things cause this problem.

  • Blown fuse: Check and see if the machine has a bad fuse. Replace the fuse, if needed. .
  • Temperature switch: To check this, you'll need to get a voltage/ohm (VOM) meter from the hardware store. Basic models cost less than $20 and come with instructions that explain how to use them. You may also need to open up the back of your dryer. Find the temperature switch in your dryer and set your VOM meter to RX1. Remove one of the leads and touch the probes on the VOM to the switch's terminals. The switch should have a reading of either zero or infinity. Turn the switch. The reading should change from zero to infinity or infinity to zero. If reading does not change, the switch is bad.
  • Thermostat:  Again, you need a VOM. Set it to RX1. Remove a lead from one of the outside terminals on the thermostat and press the probes to it. The reading should be zero. If it's not, the thermostat must be replaced.
  • Heating coils: Again set the VOM to RX1. On the coil, remove the leads and press the probes to the terminals. A reading of zero means the coil is bad.
  • Bad timer: Disconnect the leads from the timer motor. Set the VOM to RX100. Clip the probes onto the leads. If the reading is infinity, the timer motor is bad.

Motor running, but drum isn't spinning
This is most likely a broken belt. Check the belt; if it is broken, replace it with an identical belt.

If the belt is intact then the dryer may have a bad roller. The roller is located underneath the tumbler. The roller is the part that the tumbler sits on, and over time it wears out. The roller is very simple to replace; you just remove the tumbler, take out the retaining clip on the roller, slide out the old roller and put in a new one. 

The dryer could also have a bad motor or idler pulley. To determine if the pulleys are bad you must physically inspect them. Do they actually turn? Are they warped, worn or stuck? Then they need to be replaced. 

Dryer is too hot
First, check the vents, both the lint trap and the vent on the house. A clogged vent is very dangerous. If you have a clogged vent, remove the entire blockage immediately. Built-up lint presents a fire hazard. If there's a lot of duct work between your dryer and the outdoors, you may need to hire a dryer duct cleaning professional to get rid of the blockage. Regular dryer cleaning prevents this from happening, so always clear the lint trap after using your dryer and never run a dryer without a lint trap or with a broken trap.

If the ductwork is clean, it's likely a malfunctioning thermostat or heating coil. Perform VOM tests on both to determine which one needs to be replaced.

The dryer is not drying
Check the power and the breaker for the clothes dryer. If the power is fine, then it could be one of the following:

  • Timer or thermostat: Test both with a VOM to determine whether they are working.
  • Terminal block: A VOM check for voltage at the terminal block, where power comes in to your dryer, will let you know if this is the problem or not. It might be best to leave this one to the pros, since you need to have your dryer plugged in to perform this test.
  • Start switch: Set the VOM to RX1. Take off a lead to the start switch. Attach the probes to the switch's terminals. You are looking for a reading of infinity. Press the start button and the reading should change to zero. If not, the start switch is bad. 
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