The Ultimate Guide to “Dryer Won’t Turn On” Issues

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Laundry day can be an enjoyable routine for some, but when you’re faced with the dreaded “dryer won’t turn on” situation, it can turn into a frustrating ordeal. Whether you’ve been using the same reliable electric dryer for years or you’ve recently upgraded to a newer model, dryers are home appliances that can face issues now and then. But don’t fret! In this article, we’ll explore common reasons your dryer won’t start, with a special focus on both gas and electric dryers, and provide troubleshooting tips to get it up and running again.

The Basics: Power Concerns and Checks

Is There Power? The first thing to check when your dryer won’t turn on is the power supply. It might sound basic, but sometimes power failures or a tripped circuit breaker can be the culprits.

  • Electric Dryer Concerns: For electric dryers, ensure the power cord is plugged in securely. Also, check the circuit breaker to ensure it hasn’t tripped. If the circuit breaker has tripped, reset it and try turning the dryer on again.
  • Gas Dryer Issues: For gas dryers, while they also use electrical current for controls and the motor, ensure the gas supply is turned on.

Control Panel and Control Board If there’s power but the dryer still doesn’t turn on, the control panel or main control board might be at fault. The control board is essentially the brain of many dryers. Over time, it can fail due to electrical surges or wear and tear.

  • Inspect the dryer’s control panel for any obvious signs of damage or wear. If your dryer has a digital display, it should be lit if the dryer is receiving power.
  • Some dryer models come with a “controls locked” feature (often represented by a child lock icon). Ensure this hasn’t been accidentally activated.

Delving Deeper: Hardware and Components

Door Switch and Dryer Door One of the most common causes for a dryer not to start is a faulty door switch or an improperly closed dryer door. The door switch is a safety device that ensures the dryer won’t operate unless the door is properly closed. If the door switch isn’t functioning properly or the dryer door isn’t securely shut, the dryer won’t turn on.

  • To see if the door switch is the issue, open and close the dryer door a few times. Listen for a clicking sound which indicates the switch is working.
  • To test the switch, you can use a multimeter. If the switch is faulty, it will need replacement.

Thermal Fuse The thermal fuse is another crucial safety device in many dryers, particularly electric dryers. It’s designed to blow if the dryer overheats, preventing a potential fire hazard. If the thermal fuse blows, the dryer won’t start.

  • Check the owner’s manual to locate the thermal fuse in your specific dryer model. It’s often found on the blower housing or near the heating element in electric dryers, and near the burner in gas dryers.
  • Using a multimeter, test the fuse for continuity. A blown thermal fuse will need to be replaced.

Drive Belt and Dryer Drum If the drive belt, also referred to as the drum belt, is broken, the dryer’s drum won’t turn, and in many dryer models, the motor won’t run at all.

  • A common sign of a broken drive belt is a humming noise when trying to start the dryer.
  • Accessing the drive belt typically requires removing the dryer cabinet or an access panel. Once accessed, if the belt is found to be snapped or worn out, it will need replacing.

Motor and Start Switch

Motor Issues The motor is what makes the dryer drum turn. If it’s faulty, the dryer won’t start. A malfunctioning motor might produce a humming sound when you press the start button.

  • To check, try manually turning the dryer drum. If it turns smoothly, the motor and drive belt are in good shape. If not, the motor may need repair or replacement.

Start Switch Concerns The start switch is what signals the dryer motor to start turning. If this switch is faulty, even if other components are in good shape, the dryer won’t start.

  • Depending on the dryer model, the start switch can be located on the control panel or behind it.
  • Test the switch with a multimeter for continuity. If it doesn’t have continuity, it’s time for a replacement.

Remember, while some fixes are simple and can be done with basic tools, others might require professional appliance repair. Always consult your owner’s manual and consider seeking professional help if you’re unsure.

Welcome back to our comprehensive guide on dryer issues, especially focusing on the vexing problem of “dryer won’t turn on.” In our previous section, we addressed basic checks, the role of the door switch, thermal fuse, and the motor. Now, let’s dig deeper into some additional common culprits and troubleshooting tips.

Ventilation and Heating Concerns

Clogged Dryer Vent and Lint Buildup One of the often-overlooked causes for a dryer not turning on or functioning properly is a clogged dryer vent. Over time, lint and debris can accumulate in the exhaust vent, leading to poor airflow. This not only reduces the efficiency of drying clothes but can also lead to overheating, which might cause the thermal fuse to blow as a safety precaution.

  • Always ensure that the lint screen is cleaned after every load. A full lint screen can restrict airflow, leading to lint buildup in the exhaust vent.
  • Inspect the exhaust vent periodically. If you notice it’s clogged or has excessive lint buildup, it’s essential to clean it to prevent potential fire hazards.

Heating Element and Gas Burner Issues For your clothes to dry, the dryer needs to produce heated air. Issues with the heating element in electric dryers or the gas burner in gas dryers can cause the dryer not to start.

  • Electric Dryers: If the heating element is burned out or faulty, the dryer won’t produce heat. It’s located inside the dryer cabinet and generally requires removing the back panel to access.
  • Gas Dryers: Gas dryers use a burner to produce heat. If there are issues with the gas supply or the igniter, the dryer won’t heat up. Ensure the gas valve is open and inspect the igniter for any signs of wear or damage.

Advanced Component Checks

Main Control Board and Circuit Board Modern dryers come with sophisticated circuitry that controls all functions. If there’s an issue with the main control board or any associated circuit board, the dryer might not turn on.

  • Signs of a faulty control board might include the dryer not responding to button presses, not displaying any lights on the control panel, or displaying error codes.
  • While you can visually inspect the board for any signs of burns, discoloration, or damage, it’s advisable to consult an appliance repair professional if you suspect issues with the control board.

Blower Wheel and Housing The blower wheel works in tandem with the drive motor to circulate air through the dryer drum and out through the exhaust vent. If it’s clogged or malfunctioning, it can affect the dryer’s ability to start.

  • Listen for any unusual sounds like squeaking or humming, which might indicate an issue with the blower wheel.
  • To inspect the blower wheel, you’ll likely need to access the blower housing, which can be found by consulting the owner’s manual or seeking professional assistance.

User-Related Concerns

Controls Locked and Child Lock As we mentioned earlier, some dryer models come with a “controls locked” or child lock feature to prevent unintended use. It’s easy to overlook this feature, leading to user error.

  • Check the dryer’s control panel for any icons or indications that the controls are locked.
  • If you find that the controls are locked, refer to the owner’s manual for instructions on unlocking.

Wet Load and Drying Cycle Sometimes, the issue might not be with the dryer not turning on but with the drying cycle itself. If you place a wet load and the dryer seems to be taking longer than usual or the clothes are still wet, it might be an issue with the selected drying cycle or the efficiency of the dryer.

  • Ensure you’ve chosen the appropriate drying cycle for the type of clothes and their dampness level.
  • Check for any obstructions or lint buildup that might be affecting the drying efficiency.

Hello again, dear readers! In the previous parts of our dryer guide, we journeyed through basic checks, the significance of the door switch, thermal fuse, heating concerns, advanced component checks, and user-related concerns. In this section, we’re turning up the heat (pun intended!) by exploring more intricate issues and their solutions. So, let’s get started!

Power and Electrical Complications

Tripped Circuit Breaker and Power Failures Electricity is the lifeline of your electric dryer. Sometimes, the dryer won’t turn on simply because of power issues that are outside of the appliance itself.

  • It’s common for the circuit breaker associated with the dryer’s power outlet to trip due to electrical current overload. Always check the circuit breaker and ensure it hasn’t tripped. If it has, simply reset it.
  • Power failures can also be the culprit. If there’s a power outage in your area or specific issues with the power outlet, your dryer won’t start.

Power Cord and Electrical Connections The power cord is what connects your dryer to the electrical supply.

  • Ensure the power cord is securely plugged into the outlet. A loose connection can prevent the dryer from starting.
  • Inspect the power cord for any visible damages, wear, or fraying. A damaged power cord can not only prevent the dryer from turning on but can also be a potential safety hazard.

Drive and Movement Issues

Drive Belt and Idler Pulley The drive belt is a critical component that makes the dryer’s drum turn. If it’s broken or has slipped out of position, the dryer won’t start.

  • A common sign of a broken drive belt is a humming noise when you try to start the dryer. The motor might still be running, but without the drive belt, the drum won’t turn.
  • The idler pulley provides tension to the drive belt, ensuring it runs smoothly. If the idler pulley is malfunctioning, it can cause the drive belt to come off or break.

Drum Rollers and Drum Bearing These components support the dryer drum and ensure smooth movement. If they’re worn out or damaged, the drum may not spin freely, affecting the dryer’s operation.

  • If you hear a scraping noise when the dryer drum is turning, it might be due to faulty drum rollers or a worn-out drum bearing.

User Habits and Maintenance

Properly Closed Dryer Door Sometimes the simplest issues can be the most overlooked. Ensure that the dryer door is properly closed. Many dryers have a safety feature that prevents them from starting if the door isn’t securely shut.

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning Regular maintenance goes a long way in ensuring your dryer’s longevity and efficient operation.

  • Clean the lint screen regularly to avoid lint buildup, which can affect airflow and efficiency.
  • Periodically inspect the exhaust vent and blower wheel for obstructions and clean them as necessary.
  • Ensure that the dryer is level. An unlevel dryer can lead to uneven wear and potential operational issues.

Remember that while DIY troubleshooting can be helpful and cost-effective, some issues might require the expertise of an appliance repair technician. Always prioritize safety and consult the owner’s manual for specific guidance on your dryer model.

Specifics on Dryer Models

While many dryer problems can be universal, certain issues and their solutions might be model-specific. It’s always essential to understand the unique features and quirks of your particular machine.

Gas vs. Electric Dryers The debate between gas and electric dryers isn’t just about energy efficiency or drying speed. When troubleshooting, it’s vital to understand the distinctions:

  • Gas Dryers: They utilize a gas burner to produce heat. Common issues might revolve around gas supply, igniters, or gas valve solenoids. A faulty igniter or a malfunctioning gas valve solenoid can prevent the dryer from heating and operating.
  • Electric Dryers: These rely on a heating element to warm the air. Problems might be tied to the heating element itself, circuit breakers, or internal fuses.

Modern vs. Older Dryer Models With technology evolving, newer models come with advanced features, sensors, and digital control panels:

  • Newer models might display error codes that can guide you directly to the issue. For instance, a specific code might indicate a door switch problem or a heating element malfunction.
  • Older models, while often more straightforward in design, might require more manual testing, like using a multimeter to test the start switch or checking the continuity of the thermal fuse.

Advanced Diagnostics and Tests

Using a Multimeter A multimeter is a handy tool that measures electrical continuity. It can be used to test various dryer components:

  • Test the Start Switch: If your dryer won’t start, use a multimeter to test the start switch’s continuity. If the start switch doesn’t have continuity, it’s faulty and needs replacement.
  • Check the Door Switch: As we discussed earlier, a defective door switch can prevent the dryer from starting. Use a multimeter to test its continuity.

Checking the Motor and Its Components The motor is the heart of your dryer. If it’s faulty, the drum won’t turn, and the dryer won’t start:

  • If the motor makes a humming sound but the dryer’s drum doesn’t turn, it might be seized and require replacement.
  • Motors also have components like the motor relay and the motor capacitor. A malfunctioning relay can prevent the motor from running. Similarly, a defective capacitor might lead to motor start-up issues.

Deciding on Repair vs. Replacement

Evaluating the Cost If your dryer is constantly running into issues, it might be more cost-effective to replace it rather than repeatedly paying for repairs.

Assessing Age and Efficiency Modern dryers are often more energy-efficient. If your older model is driving up energy bills, a newer model might be a worthwhile investment.

Safety First Never compromise on safety. If there are any concerns about your dryer posing a potential fire risk or if it’s been recommended to be replaced by a technician, it’s wise to heed that advice.

Always remember that the dryer serves an essential role in our daily lives, ensuring our family’s laundry is dry, warm, and ready to wear. Whether you’re troubleshooting a minor issue or grappling with a more significant malfunction, knowledge is power.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dryer Issues


1. When I press the start button on my dryer, nothing happens. Why? There could be several reasons. The most common culprits are a tripped circuit breaker, a faulty door switch, or a malfunctioning start switch. Always start by checking the power source and ensure the dryer door is properly closed. If those are in order, consider testing the start switch using a multimeter.


2. Why won’t my dryer start but has power? If your dryer is receiving power (lights are on or control panel is responsive) but won’t start, it could be due to internal component failures. Potential issues might include a broken drive belt, a malfunctioning thermal fuse, or problems with the motor or its components.


3. What to check when the dryer won’t start? Begin with the basics: ensure the power cord is securely plugged in, check if the circuit breaker has tripped, and confirm the door is securely shut. Next, inspect components such as the start switch, door switch, thermal fuse, and drive belt. For more advanced diagnostics, consider using a multimeter to check the continuity of various parts or consult an appliance repair technician.


4. How do I know if my dryer fuse is blown? A blown thermal fuse is a common reason why a dryer won’t start. To determine if the thermal fuse has blown, you can use a multimeter to test it for continuity. If the multimeter indicates no continuity, the fuse is blown and will need replacement.

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