Dryer Spins But No Heat? Don't Panic, Here's What To Do
Having a clothes dryer that won’t heat up properly can be extremely inconvenient. You load up a wash ready to be dried, only to find your clothes emerging still soaked. Or perhaps your dryer runs for hours without ever fully drying a load. It’s not only a hassle, but also a waste of energy if your dryer keeps running yet produces little results. Not to mention the panic that sets in worrying if your dryer is broken for good.
However, in many cases some basic troubleshooting steps can get a dryer heating again. By methodically checking different components and functions, you can often diagnose and resolve what’s preventing your dryer from reaching its operating temperature.
Don’t immediately despair if you open your dryer and find still wet clothes despite it running. There are several straightforward things you can inspect before deciding if professional appliance repair is needed.
Check Power Supply and Airflow
The first things to check with any dryer issue are the basics – is the appliance actually getting power, and is adequate airflow present. Start by ensuring your dryer is plugged in, the outlet is functioning, and that things like the circuit breaker or a GFCI haven’t tripped, disrupting electricity supply to the machine.
Carefully inspect the power cord as well for any nicks, burns, or other damage that could prevent wattage from reaching components.
You’ll also want to evaluate if airflow obstruction is the culprit for a lack of heat. With airflow disrupted, heated air can’t properly circulate to dry clothes. Clean out your lint trap thoroughly removing any built up lint or debris.
Lint can quickly accumulate causing clogs. Also check the vent ductwork outside your home for obstructions, as birds, nests, and other material can sometimes block the ductwork.
Inspect Vent Ductwork
Make sure to detach your dryer vent duct and ensure no material buildup has occurred inside the vent line. Lint can stick to the sides of vent ducts over time while the lint trap only filters some of it.
If you find a partial or complete blockage impeding airflow through the ductwork to the outside of your house, remove the debris. Having full uninhibited airflow is key for proper dryer heating and operation.
Clean The Lint Trap
While it may sound simple, consistently cleaning out your lint trap is probably one of the most important dryer maintenance tasks. Lint traps are typically located either on the top of the dryer or behind a small door on the front. Open your dryer and pull out the lint trap to remove any lint accumulated across its mesh screen surface.
If there is excessive lint buildup, airflow is being impacted. Try running a load with a freshly cleared lint trap to see if it improves heating.
Diagnose Issues with Gas Dryers
If you have a gas powered clothes dryer, there are additional fuel line components that could disrupt heat generation if faulty. Make sure to evaluate if any issues with your gas supply exist. Start by locating the main gas valve located on the gas hookup behind the dryer and make sure it is fully opened. Additionally, verify that the gas line does not have any kinks or blockages preventing ample gas flow.
Inspect The Flame Sensor
There should be a small pilot light inside your dryer ensuring instant ignition of gas to generate heat. Check that this pilot flame is lit – some dryers have a sight glass allowing you to visually inspect pilot operation. If the pilot is out for some reason, the dryer won’t heat. The pilot light works in conjunction with an igniter and flame sensor to regulate gas burners. If these components are faulty, replacement by a technician may be required.
Evaluate The Gas Valve Solenoids
Gas dryer valves utilize solenoids triggered by a switch to release gas to the heating element burner. Problems with faulty solenoids could prevent gas release. Testing gas valves for proper ohms resistance and continuity can identify issues with these solenoids. Replace them as needed if they aren’t functioning optimally and preventing burner operation.
Evaluate Electric Dryer Heating System
If you’ve determined your electrical supply is intact, the airflow path is clear, and exhaust vents are unobstructed, the issue may involve your electric dryer’s actual heating element or components regulating heat range. Locating the specific part causing the breakdown is key.
Check The Thermal Fuse
Many dryers have a thermal fuse that blows and cuts continuity to the heating element circuit when temperatures exceed safe operation. They act as a safety mechanism to prevent fires. But a blown thermal fuse needs replacement or the heating component won’t come on.
Check for continuity across the fuse with a multimeter. No continuity means the fuse has blown and should be replaced. This is sometimes the only issue causing electric dryers not to heat.
Inspect The Heating Element
The heating element in electric dryers generates the actual heat. Over time these elements may burn out or break. Carefully remove the element and check for visual damage or wear.
Look for any breaks along the coil indicating a fully broken element. Also, use a multimeter to check heating element continuity between terminals. No continuity means the element needs replacement before the dryer can heat again.
Test The High-Limit Thermostat
Behind or beside the heating element is the high-limit thermostat. This regulates the maximum temperature in the drum, cutting power to the element if airflow is disrupted and overheating occurs. Use a multi-tester to check the thermostat contacts for continuity at various temperatures. If little to no continuity is present, it needs replacement to maintain even heating.
Fix Thermostat and Cycling Problems
Issues with dryer components that regulate overall operating temperature can manifest as no heat being produced. Thermostats and cycling thermostats specifically control temperature range and when heat turns on and off. If these parts are inaccurate or defective, desired heating won’t occur.
Evaluate The Operating Thermostat
The operating thermostat communicates desired temperature to activate heating elements and gas valves until its setting is reached. Test this thermostat with a multimeter and verify continuity at various points across its range. Erratic continuity means the operating thermostat should be replaced for accurate signal transfer.
Inspect The Cycling Thermostat
Once the operation temperature is reached, the cycling thermostat cuts power to the heat source until more heat is needed as the cycle continues. If the cycling thermostat isn’t separating contacts properly or fails to close them when heat drops, dryer cycling will be impacted. Verify thermostat component continuity via multi-meter as well. Replace if faulty.
Check Thermostat Calibration
If replacing thermostats doesn’t resolve any heat problems, inaccurate thermostat calibration could be the issue. You can test calibration using an external thermometer and temperature probe inside the dryer drum. Check if the temperature reading aligns with thermostat settings. Call a technician if it remains inaccurate after calibration attempts.
Confirm Drum Spins and Turns Freely
In addition to no heat, also listen and feel that the dryer drum spins and tumbles clothes normally without obstruction. Problems with the belt, rollers, slides or other components can prevent smooth drum operation. This added friction means having to work harder producing heat. Ensure no jams or blockages are present for optimal function.
Inspect The Drive Belt
The drive belt connects the motor to the drum allowing it to spin. Belts can wear, tear or snap and should be replaced periodically. Symptoms of bad drive belts include squeaking noises, decreased spinning sensations when you start a load, or no movement at all. Replace the belt if faulty.
Check Drum Rollers and Slides
The rear roller wheels and front drum slides/glides allow smooth drum rotation within the cabinet interior. Built-up lint around these components can impede movement, as can worn-out or broken rollers and slides. Verify nothing visually obstructs easy motion of the drum and replace rollers/slides if excessively worn.
Prevent Overheating and Reoccurring Issues
Once you remedy what’s causing your dryer to not heat, take preventative steps to stop the issue from reoccurring. Some key measures include not overloading your dryer causing strain. Give clothes adequate room to tumble freely.
This allows better airflow circulation necessary for effective heating. Also, establish a habit of regularly cleaning out your lint trap before starting a new load. Lint buildup is a leading cause of dryer failures and fires. Finally, have your venting ductwork professionally cleaned once a year at a minimum by appliance specialists.
Let Your Dryer Breathe
It’s easy to cram too many clothes into a dryer out of convenience. But overloading the drum puts excess strain on components and impedes airflow. Clothes need room to tumble and circulate air properly. Only fill your dryer drum about halfway and minimize bulkier items like comforters for ideal heating and drying.
Clean The Lint Trap Every Load
Few maintenance steps make as dramatic an impact on dryer performance as clearing lint traps before each load. Doing so prevents gradual accumulation affecting airflow over time. Get in the habit of grabbing the lint trap first when starting laundry. Just this simple 30 second task improves safety and heating efficiency.
When To Call A Repair Professional
While many basic dryer issues like cleaning ducts or replacing thermal fuses and heating elements can be DIY, know your limits. Any internal electrical testing or diagnosis should be left to appliance pros. You also don’t want to take chances with any gas line repairs or modifications. And if replacing major components like the drum, control board, or entire heating system the task is best left to experts. They have the training, tools, diagnostic equipment and experience for smooth repairs.
Let Electricians Handle Wiring
Do not attempt to work with internal dryer wiring unless you are a qualified electrician. There are significant shock and electrocution hazards. Leave electrical system repairs and diagnosis to professionals only. The same goes for inspecting and replacing high-voltage gas valve coils and other gas line repairs.
Some Parts Are Tricky To Swap Out
While replacing belts, rollers or slides seems simple enough, getting to them inside the appliance can be difficult without proper disassembly. Working in tight quarters trying to align new drums, heating elements, control boards and sensors takes skill. Don’t risk further appliance damage through clumsy repairs.
Conclusion and Next Steps
We hope mapping out critical dryer components and troubleshooting steps empowers you to get your appliance heating properly again without an immediate service call.
Carefully and systematically inspecting your dryer using our guide can help isolate what component failure is preventing it from reaching optimal temperature. Catching problems early also reduces the risk of associated fires or other damage occurring.
Just remember to never hesitate to contact repair pros if electrical or gas work is required, or replacements exceed your comfort level. Appliance technicians have specialized tools and knowledge keeping both you and your dryer safe.
By combining DIY maintenance with professional repairs only when absolutely needed, you can maximize savings while getting consistently warm and dry laundry loads for years to come.