Dryer Not Heating? How to Fix It

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A dryer not heating is usually caused by a defective heating element or a blown thermal fuse. Other components that could be causing the heating issue include the dryer’s ventilation and the high-limit and cycling thermostats. If you have a gas dryer, the igniter, gas control valve, and flame sensor may be causing the issue. In most cases, a multimeter test for continuity will be needed to determine which component has failed and needs to be replaced to fix the heating issue.

1. Defective heating element

Electric dryers have a heating element that consists of a wire coil enclosed in a metal chamber. Electrical current flows through the coil and creates heat, which is sucked into the dryer drum to dry the clothes. If the heating element is failing, clothes will not dry as quickly. If the heating element has failed, the dryer may still tumble, but the clothes will not dry.

The heating element may fail electrically, or the coil may burn out or break. The heating element coil should be inspected for damage, and the element tested with a multimeter to determine if it has failed electrically.

The location of the heating element varies depending on the type of dryer. If the dryer has a rear access panel, removing the panel should allow you to locate the element. If the dryer does not have a rear access panel, you will likely need to disassemble the dryer and remove the dryer drum to locate the heating element.

Follow these steps to check and replace the heating element:

  1. Disconnect the power to the dryer.
  2. Access and locate the heating element, either by removing the rear access panel or disassembling the dryer cabinet.
  3. Inspect the heating element coil for signs of burning, cracks, or breaks in the coil. Replace the heating element if it is damaged.
  4. Remove the heating elements wire connectors and remove the element from the dryer.
  5. Test the heating element for continuity with a multimeter. With the multimeter set to Rx1 and the probes touching the element’s terminals, if the element does not have continuity, it will need to be replaced.

2. Blocked ventilation

A blockage in the dryer’s ventilation, including the lint screen and exhaust duct, will cause the dryer to take longer to dry clothes. Blocked ventilation can also damage components like the high-limit thermostat and cause the dryer not to heat. If the dryer issue is that clothes are taking a long time to dry, clearing out the ventilation may solve the heating issue.

3. Blown thermal fuse

The dryer’s thermal fuse is a safety feature that cuts the power to the heating element if the dryer overheats. Once the fuse has been tripped, it cannot be reset, so it must be replaced.

If the dryer is not heating at all, a blown thermal fuse may be to blame. The only way to guarantee that the thermal fuse has blown is to test it with a multimeter for continuity. If the fuse does not have continuity, it has blown and will need to be replaced.

Note that a blown thermal fuse is caused by the dryer overheating, so the reason the dryer overheated, usually blocked ventilation, will need to be determined and fixed.

The location of the thermal fuse will depend on the type of dryer. It may be located either on the blower housing or the heating element.

Follow these steps to check and replace the thermal fuse:

  1. Disconnect the power to the dryer.
  2. Access and locate the thermal fuse by removing the dryer’s rear access panel or dismantling the dryer cabinet.
  3. Unscrew and remove the thermal fuse from the dryer.
  4. Test the thermal fuse for continuity with a multimeter by setting it to Rx1 and touching the probes to the fuse’s terminals. If there is no continuity, replace the thermal fuse.

4. Defective high-limit thermostat

The dryer’s high-limit thermostat monitors the dryer’s temperature and will shut off the dryer’s heating element or gas valve if it overheats. Unlike the thermal fuse, the high-limit thermostat will restore power when the dryer has cooled down. However, the thermostat will fail if it is used too frequently. Blocked ventilation is usually why the high-limit thermostat activates and eventually fails.

A failed or malfunctioning high-limit thermostat will affect the dryer’s heating and may lead to components like the thermal fuse becoming defective. Therefore, it is best to check the other components on this list as well as the high-limit thermostat for faults.

With most dryers, the high-limit thermostat is either located on the dryer’s heating element, blower wheel housing, or exhaust system.

Follow these steps to check and replace the high-limit thermostat:

  1. Disconnect the power to the dryer.
  2. Access and locate the thermostat by removing the dryer’s rear access panel or disassembling the dryer cabinet.
  3. Unscrew the thermostat to remove it from the dryer.
  4. Test the thermostat for continuity with a multimeter by setting it to Rx1 and touching the probes to the thermostat’s terminals. If it fails the continuity test, it will need to be replaced.

5. Cycling thermostat

Another thermostat that regulates the dryer’s heating is the cycling thermostat. The cycling thermostat activates and deactivates the heating element to ensure a consistent temperature during a dryer cycle. If the cycling thermostat fails, it can cause the heating element not to work.

Determining if the cycling thermostat is responsible for the dryer’s heating issue will require a multimeter test for continuity. The cycling thermostat is usually located on the blower housing or internal ventilation duct.

Follow these steps to check and replace the cycling thermostat:

  1. Disconnect the power to the dryer.
  2. Access and locate the cycling thermostat by removing the dryer’s rear access panel or disassembling the dryer cabinet.
  3. Unscrew the cycling thermostat and remove it from the dryer.
  4. Test the cycling thermostat for continuity with a multimeter by setting it to Rx1 and touching the probes to the thermostat’s terminals. If there is no continuity, the thermostat will need to be replaced.

Other causes and components to check with a multimeter:

  • Temperature sensors
  • Voltage: Is the dryer receiving 210 Volts from two 120 Volt legs?
  • Timer
  • Igniter (gas dryers)
  • Gas control valve (gas dryers)
  • Radiant flame sensor (gas dryers)
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