July 7th, 2021

How to repair a dryer that won't start

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Read time: 4 minutes

If you've got wet clothes and a dryer that's not working, don't panic. Asurion Experts are trained in and have experience with all major appliance repairs and can help you figure out why your dryer won't start and how to fix it. If you get stumped along the way, reach out to us for professional help—sooner rather than later, since a dryer that isn't functioning properly could result in a fire.

7 common reasons your dryer won't start

1. It's not getting power

If you've ever wondered, “Why won't my dryer start?” a power issue may seem like the obvious answer. And it should be. Dryers sometimes move around during a spin cycle, especially if they're not balanced properly, which can cause them to unplug themselves. A short in the system or a tripped circuit may also lead to a dryer that won't start. Check your circuit breaker to determine whether or not that's the issue.

2. The door switch isn't engaging

This component tells your dryer that the door is locked and the drying process can safely begin. If something is wrong with the switch, your dryer may believe the door is still open and won't run. If you don't hear a click when you close the door, or if the light inside the drum doesn't turn off, it may be time to replace the dryer door switch. We recommend reaching out to a dryer repair technician for help with the testing and the replacement, as there are many steps involved and it's important you have the right parts.

3. The thermal fuse is blown

The thermal fuse is a safety feature that prevents your dryer from overheating and potentially starting a fire. It will automatically open if it senses your dryer temperature is too high. If a fuse is blown, it's very important to understand why the dryer overheated in the first place; otherwise, your machine could be a fire hazard. If it's not something simple like a clogged vent, finding the cause may require the help of an appliance expert.

After determining the cause, in most dryers, you can easily replace the thermal fuse. Check the owner's manual or the manufacturer's website to ensure you purchase the correct replacement part.

Then, follow these steps to install the new fuse:

  • First, make sure the dryer is unplugged. We also advise wearing work gloves to protect your hands.
  • Then, move the dryer away from the wall and use a screwdriver to remove the back panel.
  • Locate the thermal fuse. Typically, it's near the dryer's exhaust duct.
  • Remove the wires from the thermal fuse.
  • Using a ¼” nut driver, remove the mounting screws from the existing fuse. Then, remove it from its housing.
  • Position the new fuse, secure it with screws, and replace the wires onto it.
  • After screwing the back panel back into place, plug the dryer in.

4. A problem with the start switch

This component tells your dryer when to begin its cycle. If you can hear a hum when you start your dryer but the dryer doesn't start, it's unlikely to be a start switch issue. If nothing happens when you start the dryer at all, however, this part is likely to blame. A broken start switch is an advanced repair, so you should reach out to an appliance expert for help.

5. An issue with the drive belt

If your dryer starts but the drum doesn't turn, the drive belt is most likely your issue. If you're comfortable opening and lifting up the cabinet top on your dryer, you can take a look at the belt, which will be wrapped around the drum, and inspect if for tears and cracks. If it appears to be worn out, you will need to have it replaced.

6. An obstruction or problem with the drive motor

The drive motor is responsible for rotating the dryer's drum and running the blower wheel. There are two symptoms that point to it being the likely problem: 1) If your dryer hums but doesn't run after you hit start and 2) you're unable to rotate the dryer by hand. If your dryer will initially start, but then turns itself off 15-20 minutes into the cycle, that could also be caused by an issue with the drive motor. Check to make sure there are no obstructions in the blower wheel. If none exist, then your drive motor may need to be replaced, a repair you'll likely need help from an appliance repair pro to complete.

7. A shorted main control board

If the dryer's main control board has shorted out, your dryer may not run. You can look at the main control board to see if there are signs of failure, like burn spots, but replacing it requires advanced electrical experience, so contact a professional.

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