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Why your dryer keeps shutting off prematurely

Say so long to soggy clothes with these tips to fix your dryer that keeps stopping early

Woman looking at dryer that shuts off before cycle is over

Have you ever noticed your dryer keeps stopping while your clothes are still wet? You toss them in and press the start button, but the dryer shuts off after a few minutes. It's frustrating, right?

Don't worry, we can help. At Asurion, our experts are trained in and have experience with all major appliance repairs, so they know how to do everything from fixing a washer that won't start to unclogging a dishwasher that isn't draining. Here's our guide to why your dryer keeps shutting off prematurely and how to repair it.

Your dryer overheats

One common cause of a dryer stopping midcycle is the machine overheats. When this happens, the dryer shuts off automatically to prevent a fire from starting. The thermal fuse, located near the exhaust duct on the inside of the dryer cabinet, is the part of your dryer that cuts the electricity, and once the thermal fuse trips, you have to replace it. Here's how:

  1. Unplug your dryer and move it away from the wall so you have room to work.
  2. Remove the screws holding the rear panel of your dryer in place and set it to the side.
  3. Not all thermal fuses look the same, so it is a good idea to consult your dryer's manual to see where it is located and what it looks like.
  4. Once you have located the fuse, detach the wires connected to it and remove any screws holding it in place, then you can check it with a multimeter (check our guide to learn how) and replace it with a new one if it is bad.

How to prevent the dryer from overheating

When hot air can't vent out of the dryer, overheating becomes a problem. The most common culprit is lint buildup, causing heat to accrue in the dryer and leading to a fire hazard. So if you aren't regularly cleaning the lint filter as well as the dryer vent, check out our guide to cleaning your dryer vent to learn how to start.

You have a problem with the power source

The reason your dryer keeps shutting off could also be the power source. Check the cord to make sure it's plugged in. Inspect it, too, and if you notice cuts or melting in the cord, get a new one.

If you discover scorching around the outlet, or your dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, call a professional to help you safely investigate any electrical issues.

You have a problem with the condenser or condenser tray

Ventless dryers use a condensation system to collect the moisture from your wet clothes in a tray (rather than removing it through a vent). Sometimes, the dryer shuts off midcycle because of the condensation system. Here are two reasons why, and what to do about it:

Your condensation tray is full

If your dryer's condensation tray is so full that it's about to overflow, the dryer will trigger a safety mechanism that shuts off the appliance. Make sure to empty the tray after every time you use the dryer.

Your condenser is blocked

The condenser extracts moisture from wet clothing. But if lint gets stuck on it, the condenser can clog and cause the dryer to shut down. To avoid this, remove the condenser and rinse off the lint at least once a month.

You have a broken drive belt

The drive belt, which goes over the dryer drum, helps the dryer rotate when operating. If it's defective or broken, the dryer will shut off after a few minutes.

How to diagnose a broken drive belt

  1. Unplug the dryer, then pull out the machine from the wall so you have room to work.
  2. To remove the top panel, take out the screws holding it in place. Then simply pull up on the top panel—there may be a few clips or latches holding it in place, but they should release with pressure.
  3. Remove the front panel in the same way by removing the screws.
  4. Now you can access the drive belt and two pulleys. Examine the belt for wear and tear. If it snapped, you'll need a new one.

How to replace a broken drive belt

  1. Remove the belt off the idler pulley and motor pulley. (Remember to check both pulleys for damage and replace them if needed. If you're not sure what these parts are or where they're located, consult your manual; most are available online)
  2. Pull the belt up to release the drum bearing.
  3. Remove the front guide from the dryer.
  4. Pull the drum slightly out of the cabinet so you can remove the drive belt off the back of the drum. Now you are ready to install a new drive belt.
  5. Place the new drive belt around the drum. Be sure the groove side of the belt faces the drum.
  6. Slide the drum back into place. You'll know the belt is lined up in the right position when it's in the center of the drum.
  7. Reach down and reattach the belt to the idler pulley and motor pulley, adjusting the tension on the idler as you go to be sure the belt is on tightly.
  8. Reassemble your dryer, plug it in, then run a test cycle to see if the issue is resolved.

Your door latch is faulty

No dryer will work if the door is ajar. And if your latch is worn out, the door can open when the machine is turned on, causing it to stop midcycle. To check it, open the dryer door and inspect the latch to see if it's broken, loose, or bent. If it is, the latch is likely stopping the door from closing tightly.

How to replace a broken door latch

Replacing a door latch is relatively straightforward, as long as you're comfortable disassembling parts of your dryer.

  1. Unplug the dryer.
  2. Remove the hinges and screws on the door.
  3. Using a pair of pliers, remove the door catch by pressing the tabs on the catch inward and pressing the body of the catch through the door.
  4. On the dryer, use your pliers to press the sides of the latch together, then pull it from the dryer.
  5. Install the new latch and catch by pressing them into their space until they pop into place.
  6. Plug in the machine and test it to see if the dryer is working.

Your door switch is faulty

Another reason your dryer might stop short is if the door switch isn't working properly. Here's how to test and replace a broken door switch.

  1. Unplug the dryer and move it away from the wall so you have room to work.
  2. Take off the top panel of the dryer by removing the screws holding it in place, pulling it up, and pushing it back.
  3. Locate the dryer switch inside the front panel of the cabinet.
  4. Then use a multimeter to test that the door switch is working. (Here's our guide to using a multimeter for appliance repair, if you aren't sure how). To get an accurate read, make sure to test the contacts in both positions.
  5. If the switch is bad, remove the wires and take out the screws holding it in place, then replace it with the new one.
  6. Reassemble the dryer, plug it in, and take it for a test spin.

You have issues with the dryer motor

As your dryer motor ages, wear and tear can cause it to get hotter during a cycle. Sometimes, all that extra heat can activate the thermal overload switch, which prevents a potential fire hazard and shuts off the machine. The motor may restart a few minutes later, once it's cooled down, but the problem won't disappear. If you hear a buzzing noise whirring from the dryer's motor, that's a sign that the motor is overheating and needs to be replaced.

How to replace an overheated motor

  1. Unplug the dryer, then pull out the machine from the wall so you have room to work.
  2. If your dryer has a lower access panel, remove it. Then remove the lint filter and two screws beneath it.
  3. Remove the top panel on the dryer.
  4. Disconnect the door switch wires.
  5. Remove the drive belt off the idler pulley, then the idler pulley from the mounting bracket.
  6. Take the drum out of the dryer cabinet (you can leave the drive belt on it).
  7. Remove the wiring harness from the motor and loosen the blower wheel. Turn the blower wheel clockwise to remove it. If the motor shaft spins along with it, use a wrench to hold the motor in place.
  8. Once the blower wheel is removed, the motor should pull free. If this is not the case for your dryer, consult your manual (most can be found online) to see if there is something else holding it in place.
  9. Now you're ready to install the new motor. Put the new motor in place, and reattach the blower wheel.
  10. Put the dryer back together again and test it out to see if the issue is fixed.

You have a defective moisture sensor

The moisture sensor tracks the levels of wetness in your dryer and then communicates with the control board. If it's defective, it can signal that your clothes are dry even when they aren't, causing the machine to shut off early.

How to check the moisture sensor and install a new one

  1. Unplug the dryer, then pull out the dryer from the wall so you have room to work.
  2. Take off the top panel by removing the screws.
  3. Unplug the wiring harness from the control board, remove the screws that hold the control panel in place, and take the control panel out.
  4. Remove the screws holding the lint screen onto the front panel of the door, then close the door.
  5. Using a pair of pliers, dislodge the locking tab on the front panel. Take the screws off the front panel, unplug the wiring harness on the door, and take the front panel off.
  6. Remove the wiring harness that is attached to the moisture sensor.
  7. Take off the mounting plate with pliers.
  8. Remove the lint screen.
  9. Remove the screws on the grill.
  10. Now you're ready to install the new moisture sensor. Do so by putting the dryer back together in the same order you took it apart.
  11. Reconnect the dryer to its power source, turn it on, and test it to see if you've resolved the problem.

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