Clothes Dryer Troubleshooting Guide

If your clothes dryer isn’t working as efficiently as it should, there are a number of issues that could be causing the problem. Diagnosing and repairing dryer issues doesn’t have to be difficult – this comprehensive clothes dryer troubleshooting guide covers common problems and solutions to help you get your dryer back up and running smoothly.

Clothes Taking Too Long to Dry

One of the most common clothes dryer issues is that it simply takes too long to get your clothes dry. There are several possible causes for this:

Clogged dryer vent – Over time, lint and debris can build up in the dryer vent hose, reducing airflow. This prevents moist air from escaping efficiently, increasing drying time. To fix, disconnect the vent from the dryer and use a vent brush to remove any blockages.

Weak heating element – The heating element heats the air inside the dryer drum to dry the clothes. If it is producing insufficient heat, it will take longer to dry loads. Checking the heating element with a multimeter can determine if it needs to be replaced.

Gas valve solenoids malfunctioning – On gas dryers, faulty valve solenoids can lead to intermittent or weakened heat. Replace any faulty gas valve coils.

Full lint screen/filter – Clean out the lint screen before every load. If the lint filter becomes clogged, it restricts airflow and reduces efficiency.

Unbalanced load – An unevenly distributed load inside the drum won’t tumble properly or allow air to circulate well. Redistribute clothes to maintain balance.

Insufficient airflow – Check that the outdoor dryer vent hood is not obstructed and allow proper clearance behind the dryer for ventilation.

Large load size – Do not overload the dryer’s drum capacity. Large loads take longer to dry. Reduce load sizes if needed.

Low dryer temperature setting – Use the highest suitable temperature setting for the fabric type to reduce drying time.

Poorly insulated ductwork – Ductwork that is crushed or not properly insulated allows heat loss. Inspect ducts and repair insulation.

Plugged blower wheel – Material caught in the blower wheel blocks airflow. Unplug the dryer and remove the blower housing to clean out the wheel.

With some investigation, you can troubleshoot the specific issue slowing down your dryer and take steps to improve drying efficiency.

Dryer Won’t Start

When pressing the start button produces no response from the dryer, there are several parts that could be preventing the machine from starting up:

  • Door switch – Most dryers have a door safety switch that prevents operation when the door is open. Faulty switches need to be replaced.
  • Start button – If the start button is broken or loose, the dryer won’t start. Test with a multi-meter and replace if faulty.
  • Motor – Problems with the motor can prevent the drum from turning. Test it with a multi-meter and replace it if defective.
  • Belt – Broken or loose belts that connect the motor to the drum need to be replaced. Consult a repair manual.
  • Thermal fuse -This safety fuse blows if the dryer overheats. Let the dryer cool down completely before checking the fuse.
  • Main control board – Faulty control boards can fail to send voltage to components. Have an appliance repair person diagnose control boards.
  • Lint buildup – Extreme lint buildup around components can cause failure. Disassemble and clean out lint from switches, sensors etc.

By methodically checking each component, you can determine what specific part is preventing the dryer from starting. Make any necessary repairs or replacements.

Dryer Won’t Stop Running When Cycle Ends

When the dryer keeps tumbling after the timer reaches the cycle end, there could be a couple different issues occurring:

  • Defective timer motor – If the timer motor is stuck, it fails to send a stop signal. Replace the faulty timer.
  • Thermal limiter tripped – This safety device shuts off the motor if the dryer overheats. Press the thermal limiter button to reset after cooling.
  • Damaged cycle selector switch – The cycle selector maintains power to the drive motor. Replace it if it is faulty.
  • Loose wire connections – Vibrating parts can loosen wiring connections over time. Check and tighten any loose wires.
  • Faulty door switch – A malfunctioning door switch allows the dryer to keep running with the door open. Replace the switch.
  • Bad start switch – If this switch sticks, it will continue to send a signal to keep the dryer running. Test and replace it if needed.

Once you determine why the dryer fails to stop when the cycle finishes, you can take steps to get the normal operation restored.

Dryer Shuts Off Too Soon

If your dryer shuts off before the cycle completes, there could be a couple different possible causes:

  • Blocked duct vent – Obstructed airflow will cause the dryer to overheat and shut off early. Clear any lint or debris blocking the ductwork.
  • Faulty thermostat – Malfunctioning thermostats can inaccurately sense temperature, shutting off the dryer prematurely. Test thermostats with a multi-meter.
  • Defective thermal fuse – Thermal fuses connected to the motor and blower will blow if the dryer overheats. Replace any blown fuses.
  • Clogged blower housing – Excess lint buildup in the blower will cause overheating. Disassemble and clean out the housing.
  • Gas valve problems – Issues with gas valve coils or thermostats can cut off heat intermittently. Replace faulty gas valve parts.
  • Cycling thermostat issue – This regulates the heating element. Replace it if defective.
  • Loose wiring – Check wire connections to all sensors and thermostats. Tighten any loose wires.

By troubleshooting the potential source of overheating, you can fix the issue that is triggering the dryer to shut off before clothes are fully dry.

Clothes Are Still Damp at End of Cycle

If your dryer runs a full cycle but leaves clothes still damp, there are a couple of things to check:

  • Clogged lint screen – Clean it thoroughly before each load to maximize airflow.
  • Insufficient drying time – Reset dryer timer to allow for a longer drying duration.
  • Large load size – Oversized loads take longer to dry. Reduce the load size.
  • Low dryer temperature – Use the highest suitable heat setting for the fabric type.
  • Excessive lint in ductwork – Built-up lint reduces airflow through vent system. Remove all accumulated lint.
  • Restricted outdoor vent hood – Make sure the outdoor vent is not obstructed by debris.
  • Dryer overcrowded – Too many clothes prevents air circulation. Leave room for tumbling.
  • Heating problems – Defective heating elements, coils or fuses can lower heat output. Test components.
  • Humid conditions – Added moisture in air increases drying time in humid climates. Run a dehumidifier.
  • Cold inlet air – Closing garage doors or other air sources prevents warm air intake. Keep airways open.

Once you’ve investigated the potential reasons preventing clothes from drying fully, you can take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue.

Clothes Shrinking

If your clothes are coming out of the dryer smaller than when they went in, the dryer temperature is likely too high. There are a couple fixes:

  • Check garment care labels and only dry fabrics together that have the same temperature requirements.
  • Use lower heat settings appropriate for delicate items. Medium or Low is gentler for shrinking-prone clothes.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer immediately once the cycle ends to prevent over-drying at high heat.
  • Use an air dry cycle with no heat if available. Air fluffing shrinks clothes less.
  • Install drying racks in the dryer to dry hanging clothes without tumbling heat exposure.
  • Use fabric softener in loads prone to static cling. It helps reduce friction that causes shrinking.
  • Avoid overloading the dryer, as tightly packed clothes will shrink more from heat exposure.
  • Clean the lint filter frequently to maximize airflow and drying efficiency at lower temperatures.

With some adjustments to your laundry routine, you can reduce instances of clothes shrinking. Only dry shrink-vulnerable fabrics on low or no heat settings.

Clothes Are Too Wrinkled After Drying

If your dryer leaves clothes wrinkled and creased instead of fresh and crisp, try these fixes:

  • Shake out items right after the dryer cycle ends to prevent wrinkle setting.
  • Use the cool down cycle on the dryer to allow clothes to finish drying without high heat.
  • Set drying time to approximately 10 minutes less than normal. Finish air drying clothes to remove final moisture.
  • Use lower heat settings to put less strain on fabric fibers during tumbling.
  • Dry smaller loads to allow clothes more room to tumble without bunching.
  • Add dryer balls or balls of aluminum foil to help separate clothing as it tumbles.
  • Check that dryer is properly leveled. Off-balance tumbling causes extra wrinkling.
  • Use liquid fabric softener to reduce static cling that draws fabrics together.
  • Place towels in dryer to cushion and separate delicate fabrics prone to wrinkling.

With the right drying strategies, you can take clothes out of the dryer looking neat and ready-to-wear.

Clothes Have Odor After Drying

If your freshly dried laundry retains an unpleasant or musty odor, a few things could be the cause:

  • Run an empty “air fluff” cycle to remove any lingering odors inside the dryer itself.
  • Clean the lint screen thoroughly before each load to maximize airflow.
  • Use scent boosters or dryer sheets to add pleasant fragrance as clothes dry.
  • Check that the dryer vent hose is clear of blockages to maintain airflow.
  • Remove accumulated lint around the drum seals and interior ductwork.
  • Run a cycle with diluted distilled white vinegar to naturally disinfect odors (no clothes).
  • Make sure drying cycles run long enough to fully dry clothing and eliminate dampness.
  • Hang or lay clothes out immediately after drying rather than leaving them bundled.
  • Clean the dryer interior with a mild soap and water solution.
  • For musty smells, run the dryer empty with damp towels to absorb odor.

With a few simple cleaning and drying strategy adjustments, you can keep dryer odors at bay.

Clothes Have Grease Stains After Washing

If dried laundry contains grease stains that weren’t there before washing, the issue may lie with your washing machine, not the dryer. Here are some tips to remove greasy residue:

  • Pretreat grease stains with stain remover before washing.
  • Use the hottest appropriate water temperature for the fabric type.
  • Wash only lightly soiled clothes with heavily soiled, greasy ones.
  • Clean the washing machine interior to remove built-up grease residue.
  • Run washing machine tub clean cycle monthly to prevent grease accumulation.
  • Increase laundry detergent to thoroughly lift and dissolve more grease.
  • Use liquid detergent or detergent pods rather than powder for greasy loads.
  • Add borax to laundry to help cut grease and also brighten clothing.
  • Dry greasy clothes separately and wipe out dryer drum after.
  • After drying, spot treat any remaining grease stains before ironing or storing.

Proper washing is key to removing grease before clothes ever reach the dryer. Focus on effective stain pretreatment, hot washing temperatures, and sufficient detergent to fully purge grease from fabric fibers during cycles.

Lint Accumulating Outside Dryer

Lint and debris accumulating on the floor outside or around the dryer is usually a sign of a bigger problem inside the dryer venting system. Possible causes include:

  • Clogged lint screen – Clean it out thoroughly before each load to prevent lint back up.
  • Detached or damaged vent hose – Inspect the flexible vent hose for any gaps, tears or detachment from the dryer.
  • Loose vent hose clamp – Ensure the vent hose is securely fastened with the clamp at both ends.
  • Damaged vent hood outside – Check that the outdoor vent hood flaps are functioning and not stuck open.
  • Blocked vent hood – Remove any debris like leaves or snow blocking vent exhaust.
  • Excessive duct length or turns – Too many turns or over 25 ft of ductwork can accumulate lint.
  • Punctured vent duct – Rodents or other damage can create small holes for lint to escape.
  • Incorrect ductwork – Ensure rigid, smooth metal ducting – not plastic or foil.

Addressing any venting issues will stop lint accumulating outside the dryer. Clean out all built-up lint inside the machine and ductwork thoroughly.

Dryer Drum Won’t Turn

When you start your dryer and the drum fails to turn, potential causes can include:

  • Broken drive belt – Turn off power and inspect the belt. Replace it if loose, torn or damaged.
  • Seized drum rollers – Pull out the drum to check the front and rear rollers. Lubricate or replace seized rollers.
  • Obstructed blower wheel – Built-up lint can totally stop the blower wheel from turning. Disassemble and clean.
  • Defective door switch – If this safety switch malfunctions, it prevents the drum from turning. Replace it.
  • Bad start switch – The start switch activates the drive motor. Test it with a multi-meter and replace if faulty.
  • Failed drive motor – Use a multi-meter to test the electric motor. Replace it if defective.
  • Loose pulleys – Inspect both drive motor and blower pulleys. Tighten any loose pulley screws.

By methodically inspecting dryer parts and replacing anything faulty, you can get the drum spinning properly again.

Dryer Makes No Sound at All

When pressing start produces absolutely no noise at all from the dryer, potential issues include:

  • No power – Check that the dryer is plugged in and circuit breaker is on.
  • Door switch failure – If this safety switch malfunctions, it prevents any operation. Replace it.
  • Blown thermal fuse – No heat will generate if this fuse that prevents overheating is blown. Replace fuse.
  • Loose wiring – Open up the control panel and ensure all wiring is securely connected.
  • Defective motor – Use a multi-meter to test the drive motor. Replace it if faulty.
  • Bad control board – Faulty boards fail to send voltage to components. Have the board diagnosed by a technician.
  • Seized drum rollers – Unmoving rollers put a load on the motor, preventing turning. Replace seized rollers.
  • Broken drive belt – No noise will occur if belt is snapped and not turning drum. Replace belt.

Thorough inspection and testing of electrical parts can determine the root cause of the dryer’s silence so that the necessary repair can be made.

Dryer Squeaks, Rumbles or Vibrates Excessively

Annoying squeaking, rattling or loud vibrations usually signify a mechanical issue inside the dryer:

  • Dryer not level – Use a level to check. Adjust leveling feet up or down as needed to balance.
  • Obstruction in drum – Objects like coins or buttons can get caught in drum. Inspect and remove items.
  • Loose blower wheel – Wheel can slip on shaft causing noise. Tighten blower wheel screws.
  • Worn drum roller – Check rubber drum rollers for cracking or damage. Replace worn rollers.
  • Loose drum glides – Check plastic glides along drum front & rear. Replace any damaged glides.
  • Noisy idler pulley – Pulleys allow the belt to ride smoothly. Lubricate and replace noisy pulleys.
  • Damaged motor – Make sure motor is securely mounted. Replace it if excessively noisy.
  • Loose blower housing – Check that screws are tight. Tighten any loose blower housing parts.

Address any loose, worn or damaged internal parts that are causing excessive noise or vibration issues.

Burning Smell from Dryer

If you notice a burning odor coming from the dryer, unplug it immediately. Potential causes for the smell include:

  • Lint buildup – Excess lint around heating element and vent areas can ignite. Remove lint carefully.
  • Restricted airflow – Clean out any blockages in vent hose or ductwork causing overheating.
  • Damaged heating element – Inspect element for damage. Test resistance levels and replace if faulty.
  • Motor overheating – Feel motor to check for overheating. Allow it to cool, then restart dryer.
  • Belt friction – Worn, loose belts can slip on pulleys causing a burning smell. Inspect and replace belts.
  • Wire damage – Check for any burned or melted internal wiring and replace damaged parts.
  • Gas valve problems – With gas dryers, coils or thermostats can overheat. Replace faulty gas valve parts.
  • Drum glide issues – Replace any deteriorated glides causing friction and heat between drum and frame.

Carefully inspect the internal dryer components for the source of overheating and burning odor before continuing use to prevent fire risks.

Dryer Runs But Won’t Heat Up

When the dryer turns on but fails to produce any heat to dry clothes, possible issues include:

  • **Burnt heating element