Updated February 2, 2024.
Dryer problems can cause loads of frustration. We’ll show you how to troubleshoot your dryer to avoid common problems.
Laundry gone wrong can be a headache. And a broken dryer only makes matters worse.
If your clothes come out of the dryer still wet, or your dryer just won’t run to begin with, one of these common dryer issues could be the culprit.
Here are the top five dryer problems that make your head spin — and possible causes and solutions to get your machine up and running again.
How to Troubleshoot a Dryer for the 5 Most Common Problems
Why does my dryer make strange noises?
The likely culprit causing strange noises or vibrating is a failed dryer drum seal and glide bearing. This problem can often be caused by frequent overloading or foreign objects accidentally loaded in the dryer.
Open the dryer door and manually spin the drum. Listen for noise and check to see if the drum binds up as you rotate it. If the drum seal and glide bearing are damaged, you’ll need to replace them.
Schedule a Sears Technician to visit your home and replace the parts. Same-day and next-day repair appointments are available in many areas. Trust the repair experts at Sears to fix your noisy dryer quickly and efficiently.
If you’re confident in your abilities to safely replace dryer parts yourself, you can follow the steps in this DIY repair video to replace the glide bearing and drum seal.
Why does my dryer run but never heats up?
For a gas dryer, a blown thermal fuse is one of the most common failures that prevents the dryer from heating even though it runs. Lint build-up in the flexible exhaust vent can cause the dryer to overheat and blow the thermal fuse. A clogged lint screen can also blow the thermal fuse. Check these issues first when your electric dryer runs but won’t heat. If you suspect that the thermal fuse is broken, have a Sears Technician replace the fuse.
If you find no clogs in the lint screen or exhaust system, then other problems can prevent your gas dryer from heating. Schedule a service technician to diagnose and fix your dryer. If you want to diagnose and fix the problem yourself, follow the steps in our Gas dryer won’t heat troubleshooting article with video to fix your dryer.
Different problems can prevent the heating element in an electric dryer from working even though the dryer runs. If you have an electric dryer, follow the steps in our Electric dryer won’t heat troubleshooting article with video to fix the problem.
Why won’t my dryer turn on?
When your dryer won’t turn on at all, check these issues:
- Make sure the power cord is fully inserted in the electrical outlet.
- Check the house circuit breaker for the dryer. Reset the house circuit breaker if it has tripped.
- Unplug the dryer and check the power cord wiring connections on the terminal block. Follow the directions in the owner’s manual or installation guide to connect the power cord wires properly.
If you can’t restore the power to the dryer using these troubleshooting tips, an internal wiring failure or a bad control (timer or electronic control board) may be preventing the dryer from powering up.
If your dryer has power but won’t run, a blown thermal fuse in an electric dryer could be causing the problem.
Here are several other reasons why your dryer won’t run:
- Broken door switch that’s not recognizing that the door is closed.
- Bad timer or control board not sending electric current to the drive motor.
- Internal wiring failure between the control and the motor.
- Failed drive motor.
- Bad push-to-start switch or motor relay.
When your dryer won’t turn on or run, schedule a repair appointment and we’ll send a Sears Tech right out to fix the problem.
If you want to fix the problem yourself, follow the DIY troubleshooting steps in one of these articles to fix your dryer.
- Electric dryer won’t start troubleshooting (with video).
- Gas dryer won’t start troubleshooting (with video).
Why does my dryer run but doesn’t get clothes dry?
A clogged lint screen or blocked exhaust duct can prevent clothes from drying if the dryer is heating. If the dryer won’t heat, a bad heating element in an electric dryer could be the culprit. In a gas dryer, weak gas valve coils or lack of a gas supply can prevent the burner from heating.
Check the lint screen and exhaust duct system first. Clear any clogs or have a Sears expert clean your dryer vent system.
If your dryer runs but doesn’t heat, schedule dryer repair service and we’ll send a Sears Technician to your home to fix the problem.
If you want to fix a non-heating dryer yourself, follow the advice in the article with video in the section above that matches your type of dryer (gas or electric).
Why does my dryer run but then shuts off quickly?
There are many common reasons why your dryer might stop before it has completed its cycle. Some of the common issues include a clogged exhaust vent causing overheating, a failing timer or push-to-start switch, or a damaged motor relay. It can also be caused by a broken door strike, weak door catch, or a faulty electronic circuit board. Overloading the dryer can cause the drive motor to overheat and suddenly stop.
If you have a heavy load of clothes or towels in the dryer, remove some items to lighten the load. After the dryer motor cools down, it may start and run normally.
If your clothes dryer continues to shut off shortly after starting, have a Sears Technician examine the dryer and repair the problem.
Why is my dryer overheating?
A sixth common dryer problem is overheating. A clogged lint screen and a blocked exhaust vent duct are the most frequent causes of this issue. Clean the lint before starting each load. Fabric softener residue from dryer sheets can build up on the lint screen and block air flow through the dryer – causing overheating. Follow the steps in this DIY video to clean fabric softener residue off the lint screen.
Repeat this procedure monthly to prevent fabric softener build-up from inhibiting airflow through your dryer.
If your dryer overheats and you know that the lint screen is clean and clear of residue, check the exhaust vent duct system that goes to the outside of your home for clogs or restrictions. Make sure that the damper on the outside of your home opens fully and isn’t blocked. Check for lint build-up in the flexible vent hose behind your dryer. Look for clogs in the vent ducting going to the outside of your home. Clear any clogs or have a Sears expert clean the dryer vent system.
Clean your dryer vent regularly to help prevent the dryer from overheating.
Frequently Asked Questions About Clothes Dryers
How long does a gas dryer last?
Gas clothes dryers typically last 10-15 years in most homes. With proper maintenance, a dryer can last more than 20 years.
How do I keep my clothes dryer lasting longer?
Keep your dryer lasting longer by having it professionally cleaned and maintained by a Sears Technician every year. During the dryer Clean & Maintain service, the tech will:
- Check the exhaust system. Clogs of lint and debris in the exhaust vent system causes the dryer to take longer to dry clothes. Clothes inside the dryer can also overheat when the exhaust vent system is clogged. Clothes inside the dryer can also overheat when the vent system is clogged. The technician will check leaks, kinks and obstructions.
- Vacuum inside and around the dryer. The technician will vacuum inside the exhaust vent to remove lint and debris. As noted above, exhaust vent clogs cause the dryer to overheat and cycles take longer to dry clothes. Lint build-up inside the dryer can cause a fire. The tech vacuums lint and debris from inside the dryer to prevent fires.
- Inspect the heating system. The technician will check the heating element in an electric dryer or the burner assembly in a gas dryer. The dryer won’t heat efficiently if the burner or element has problems. The technician will check the gas line and connections for leaks. A gas leak can cause a fire.
- Check the drum, drive system and drum seals. The dryer won’t heat and dry properly if drum seals are worn or damaged. Problems with the drum, drum support rollers, drum belt and drive motor can prevent the drum from rotating to tumble and dry the clothes properly.
- Examine the moisture sensor. The moisture sensor detects dampness in tumbling clothes inside the dryer. If the moisture sensor is coated with deposits (often caused by dryer sheets), the sensor won’t detect moisture and the dryer will stop while clothes are still damp. The technician will clean the sensor if it’s dirty.
- Inspect the power cord and electrical connections. Damage to the power cord or wiring in the dryer can trip the house circuit breaker for the dryer. A wiring short can also damage internal dryer components such as the electronic control board.
- Measure dryer operating temperature. The dryer won’t dry the clothes properly if the burner or control isn’t working properly to heat the air. The tech will measure the temperature of exhaust air to check the heating process.
- Check controls. Whether your dryer has a timer or an electronic control board, the technician will check control operation. The dryer won’t dry your clothes properly if the control doesn’t work properly. Having your dryer professionally maintained by a Sears Technician will also help prevent unexpected breakdowns during the year. The tech will be able to see any problems that can lead to failures during the year while performing the maintenance check on your clothes dryer.
What are common signs that it’s time for a new dryer?
As your clothes dryer ages, it will start showing signs of wear and tear. You’ll know that it’s time to buy a new dryer when you see these signs:
- Long dry times – When your dryer takes longer than usual to dry clothes or if clothes come out damp even after a full cycle, it could be a sign that parts are wearing out. It may be more economical to replace the dryer rather than replacing expensive parts such as the heating element or burner system.
- Loud noises – Unusual noises like banging, scraping, or grinding sounds during operation are indications that something is amiss with your dryer’s mechanics. These noises can be a sign of worn-out or damaged parts, which can be costly to repair.
- Frequent overheating – When your dryer often becomes excessively hot to the touch or if you notice burning smells while it’s in use, it could indicate an issue with the thermostat or heating element. Continued use under such conditions can pose a fire hazard.
- Frequent breakdowns – When your dryer requires frequent repairs, and the costs of fixing it keep adding up, it might be more cost-effective in the long run to invest in a new dryer rather than continuing to patch up an old one.
- Electrical issues – When you notice any electrical issues such as sparking or you notice the smell of burning wire insulation, it’s likely time for you to look for a new dryer. Don’t continue to use your dryer if you notice any electrical problems that could pose a safety hazard to you and your family.
Replacing your dryer at the right time will often save you money on energy and repair bills.
Sears Home Services has dryer repair solutions for homeowners
When you do need to have your clothes dryer repaired instead of replacing it, trust Sears Home Services to fix the problem.
Sears Technicians perform more than 7 million repairs annually and we have thousands of appliance experts employed nationwide. Sears is the #1 appliance repair service in the country, delivering guaranteed quality and workmanship.
We repair most major brands of dryers, no matter where you bought it.
Schedule your dryer repair today. Same-day and next-day service appointments are available in many neighborhoods, so we’ll fix you clothes dryer fast.