4 Common Dryer Repairs and Troubleshooting

Written by Christine DiMaria
Updated September 29, 2012
laundry room with washer and dryer
Malfunctioning clothes dryers can often be fixed by quick troubleshooting methods. (Photo by Jay Madden)

Learn how to evaluate the possible causes of your dryer problems and determine whether you should hire an appliance repair service.

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Here are some of the more common problems with home clothes dryers.  Sometimes a homeoner can make a simple repair, but often this will require the services of an expert in appliance repair.

1. The Dryer Won't Turn On

First make sure the plug has not wiggled loose, and test the electrical outlet by plugging in a lamp or small appliance.  If there's no power coming out of the plug, check your fuse box or circuit breaker to make sure the circuit isn't tripped.  If it is only the dryer that is affected, it may be the thermal fuse.  Like many large appliances, dryers typically have a built-in fuse.  You may need your owner's manual to locate it.  There's also a door switch that makes the dryer stop moving when you open the door.  The switch may have broken in the "off" position.  Depending on your do-it-yourself skills, you might be able to make this repair yourself.

2. The Dryer Isn't Tumbling

If the drum isn't spinning, but the dryer turns on, it could be the dryer belt. The switch might be the problem, or it may be the dryer's motor. If it's the switch or the motor, the safest and easiest way to fix the problem is to call a professional. 

3. The Dryer is Burning Your Clothes

Obviously, if the dryer burned one load of clothing, you don't want to risk it burning another load. However, the problem may require you to fix numerous parts, such as the rollers, the drum seals or the glides. This is a repair for an appliance professional.

4. The Dryer Isn't Heating

If the dryer isn't heating, first make sure the setting hasn't accidentally been changed.  Most dryers have a "fluff" setting that produces no heat.  Some settings on a dryer only blow out air and don't heat.  If the settings are correct and there's no heat it may be the electronic ignition. Accessing this part is very difficult and sometimes the manufacturer makes it impossible for someone who doesn't have the correct tools to access it at all. Therefore, when the electronic ignition goes, you should contact an appliance repair service.

Tip: Every year some 15,000 home fires are caused by clothes dryers, and the most common cause of these fires is a build-up of lint.  Clean the dryer's filter each time you do a load or two and have your dryer vent cleaned professionally once a year.

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