Dryer isn't heating up? How to fix it in 3 easy steps

Written by Jason Hutchinson
7 Min read

Dryer isn't heating up?

You put your wet clothes in the dryer, set the timer, and wait patiently, but the dryer isn't heating up.

Your clothes don't come out warm and toasty, and it just doesn’t seem to be working right.

If your dryer isn’t heating up, there are a few things you can do to fix it. This blog post will explore three easy steps to get your machine humming again.

So, let’s dive in and tell you those three simple steps.

What to do when you find your dryer isn't heating

More often than not, your tumble dryer isn’t heating because it has tripped and needs to be reset. These three simple steps will reset your machine and should have you enjoying cozy clothing again in no time.

Step 1 – Locate the reset button

Your machine should have a reset button. To locate this you will need to unscrew and remove the back panel

Step 2 – Press the button in

When you see the red reset button, press it. If the machine has tripped then you should hear a click.

Step 3 – Turn on

Reattach the back panel and you should now be good to go again.

But why did your machine trip in the first place? And how can you prevent it from happening again?

Why did my tumble dryer trip?

There are a number of reasons why your appliance may have tripped out. But, luckily, they are pretty basic reasons which require similarly simple solutions.

  • Opening the door
  • Unchecked door filter
  • Clogged condenser box
Image of a woman wondering why her dryer isn't heating

Opening the door

To be clear, we mean opening the door during a cycle. You especially shouldn’t do this when your machine has been running for a while.

This can confuse your appliance as it tries to fill the space with heat in order to dry the clothes. When you open the door the fan stops and the dryer isn't heating. However, the element inside your dryer then thinks it needs to produce more heat to make up for the cold air that has entered the space.

Your machine tripping is a safety measure designed to prevent the element from getting too hot and warping or, worse, catching fire.

Unchecked door filter

These next two points are more a comment on machine maintenance than practices or fixes.

It’s a common issue that dryer isn't heating because lint and other miscellaneous fluff gets caught up in your dryer. It may seem harmless or just a by-product of the drying process, but this fluff can cause your machine some headaches.

The door filter and drum can become clogged with lint which, if left unchecked, will start to affect the airflow through your machine. This will cause it to trip, again, as a safety precaution.

Clogged condenser box

If you own a condenser dryer, then it’s best to ensure the box at the bottom of the machine is cleaned out.

Once a month you should remove it and give it a good rinse out with water.

The dryer isn't heating still??

If you’ve tried all of that and you’re still finding that your clothes are coming out wet or cold, then there are some other reasons why the dryer isn't heating.

Let’s take a look at those, starting from the simplest problem to the most complex.

The door is not completely closed

We said we were starting simple. But it’s always worth doing the easy things first. This won’t be an issue for more modern machines as they will usually alert you to unclosed doors or they simply won’t start a drying cycle until it’s closed.

However, if the dryer isn't heating, some older dryers will continue to try and warm your clothes while the door is ajar. So, if you have a more aged machine, just make sure it’s clicked shut before reading anymore.

Check the “Eco” setting

With the continued international focus on sustainability and energy efficiency, most machines now come with an “eco” setting. This option runs the dryer for longer but it doesn’t use as much energy as the air being pumped through your clothes is cool.

Thermal fuse

Moving into the more complicated or time-consuming fixes now. This is another reason why you should keep your dryer door shut if the dryer isn't heating. The thermal fuse is the component that trips when too much heat is detected.

In modern machines, this fuse completely shuts the dryer down. However, the problem here is, that if your thermal fuse trips – it’s one time use part. This means you’ll need to replace this component before your machine is able to get warm again.

One way to tell the fuse is the issue is that your dryer will be spinning but not getting warm.

Exhaust vent

Just next to the thermal fuse you’ll come to another potential culprit of the dryer cold front if the dryer isn't heating. These two components work together to ensure it runs safely. The exhaust vent is the corrugated or flexible tube that runs from the back of your dryer to outside.

As part of your machine’s ventilation system, the exhaust vent takes the hot wet air from your appliance and distributes it outside. However, as with any vented area in your dryer, this too can become clogged with lint.

When this happens your machine will, most likely, trip to prevent a dryer fire. To avoid catastrophes like that, it’s best to ensure you regularly clean out your vents.

If the dryer isn't heating still, a faulty thermostat or temperature switch could be the problem

Another tripping hazard in your machine is a faulty thermostat. Although, it could also be the reason your dryer won’t get warm. The thermostat and temperature switch work together to keep the temperature in your machine stable.

If you do have a faulty thermometer or switch they won’t be sending the right signals to your machine. So it could be sending cool air instead of hot. Conversely, though, it could also send super-hot air into your tumble dryer which causes the clothes to heat up and the thermal switch to enact its safety procedures.

Test your thermostat and temperature switch with a standard multimeter. If it’s a problem with your thermostat the meter will read zero. However, if the switch is at fault your reading will be either zero or infinity. If this reading doesn’t go from one to the other when you flip the switch on then you’ve found the reason why the dryer isn't heating up.

Unfortunately replacing your thermostat will probably be a job for a professional or your machine’s manufacturer. Although, the good news is, fixing a broken temperature switch is a simple swap job.

Heating coils

You’ll need your multimeter again for this one. The heating coils are located in the back of your machine. Remove the back panel and you should see the metal spirals twisted together.

Once in the back of the dryer you should be able to test the terminals with your meter. Place the probes on the terminal and if you get a reading of zero, then your coils aren’t working.

But, while you’re in the back of your machine, you should also take some time to clean off the coils. Any dust or lint on them could hinder performance and potentially cause fires.

Faulty timer

Your timer is in charge of making sure the dryer can move from one cycle to the next. If the timer isn’t working as it should then it can cause your machine to spin without any heat being released and be the reason why your dryer isn't heating.

Test the timer with a multimeter by removing the knob and opening the panel. Disconnect the leads from the motor and use the meter to get a reading. If you get a reading of infinity then the timer motor needs to be replaced.

What about gas dryers?

Gas dryers are another ball game altogether, but issues surrounding heating in them are still fixable. We’ll just cover a couple of common problems that may be the reason why your dryer isn't heating.

No gas

Before you get stuck into any complicated investigations on your dryer, it’s definitely worth checking to see whether: a) the gas is on or b) the gas bottle is full. It goes without saying that no gas is a good reason why your dryer isn't heating up and drying clothes.

Faulty dryer flame sensor

Gas dryers need fire to heat the air and dry your clothes. However, if there’s a problem with the flame sensor then it won't ignite when you want it to.

You can test the flame sensor by employing the trusty multimeter again. Locate the sensor by finding the little black box below the dryer drum. This test will show whether there is a constant electrical current running through the sensor. A bad reading will tell you there isn’t and it’s probably time for a replacement sensor.

Call the repair guys

If, after all that analysis and investigation, your dryer still isn’t getting warm then it may be time to call in the professionals.

Additionally, it could be worth arranging a regular dryer check-up with the manufacturer or a local electrical firm. This will help keep your machine in peak condition for longer.

However, it’s worth mentioning that you can avoid most dryer heating issues by keeping up with your dryer’s maintenance. This is especially important when it comes to dryers because, as we’ve mentioned above clogged-up machines can have deadly consequences.  

Final thoughts

It can be super annoying when you come to get your clothes out of the dryer and they're not toasty warm, in fact, they’re not even dry.

When this happens there could be a number of reasons behind the problem. But it’s important to understand there are a number of fixes you can implement without needing to call the repair man.

Appliances made simple. 

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram