How to Fix a Dryer That Gets Hot but Doesn’t Dry

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Dryers are great for drying clothes in a hurry or to use when there is bad weather. So if your drying is not drying, or it is taking too long to dry, you will likely want to get it fixed as soon as possible. If your dryer gets hot but does not dry, it is most likely a lint blockage that is causing the issue.

Lint can cause a blockage if the lint screen is not cleaned after using the dryer, and when lint builds up in the ventilation duct or inside the dryer. If lint is not to blame for the dryer heating but not drying, the dryer’s heating element, thermostats, and thermistor should be checked to resolve the issue.

1. Too much laundry

If clothes are still damp when they should be dry, the first thing you should consider is whether there were too many clothes in the dryer. To make sure the dryer can do its job, never fill the drum more than 3/4 full. An obvious indication that the dryer load is too large is when the drum struggles to spin when you try to start the dryer. Another good indication that it is too full is if you can hear the dryer struggling, often making a squeaking sound.

2. Lint screen needs cleaning

If you look at the lint screen after using the dryer, you are likely to see that a lot of lint comes off just one dryer load. Therefore, it is understandable why dryer manufacturers instruct dryer owners to clean the lint screen after each time you use the dryer.

If the lint screen is clogged, it restricts the airflow in the dryer, which reduces its ability to dry the clothes. Not cleaning the lint screen also increases the chances of lint getting through the screen and into the dryer’s internal components. If you are not in the habit of cleaning the lint screen, regularly cleaning it will improve the dryer’s performance and potentially solve the problem of the dryer heating but not drying.

3. Ventilation blockage

As dryers require airflow to dry clothes, another common cause of the dryer not drying is a blockage in the ventilation duct or the ventilation hose at the back of the dryer. However, blocked ventilation will do more than restrict the dryer’s performance, as it also poses a fire risk. Dryer manufacturers recommend cleaning the ventilation duct at least once per year.

To clean the ventilation duct and hose, the ventilation hose will need to be disconnected from the rear of the dryer. The ventilation hose can be cleaned with a damp cloth or shaken to remove all the lint.

A dryer vent cleaning kit can be purchased to clean the ventilation duct. The vent cleaning kit comes with an extendable and flexible brush that fits inside the ventilation duct to give it a thorough clean. Another option is to hire professionals to clean the duct out.

One more thing to check is where the ventilation duct exits the home. Some ventilation ducts have a lid on the end that opens when the dryer is in use. If the lid is malfunctioning, it could also be causing the dryer to heat but not dry.

4. Lint inside the dryer

Over time, lint can also build up inside the dryer, around components like the heating element, thermostat, and blower wheel. Like a ventilation blockage, the performance of the dryer is not the only thing that needs to be considered. If lint builds up inside the dryer, there is also the risk of it starting a fire.

Access to the internal components of the dryer can vary depending on the type of dryer you have. In most cases, the rear panel, top panel, and front panel of the dryer will need to be removed. Once you can see the internal components of the dryer, a vacuum attachment or cloth can be used to clean up the lint. Make sure to disconnect the power or gas to the dryer before removing any access panels. Also, make sure to clean the blower wheel as it often becomes clogged with lint.

5. Defective heating element

The heating element inside your dryer is responsible for heating the air to help dry the clothes. The clothes are dried by a combination of tumbling in the dryer and the heat from the heating element. If the dryer is heating, the heating element is less likely to be the cause, but it is still possible that it is not working as well as it should be.

The heating element can be tested with a multimeter for continuity (a continuous electrical path), as well as inspected for signs of burning and broken coils. If the heating element is defective, it should be replaced with a new one. Depending on the type of dryer, access to the heating element will likely require the removal of the rear, top, and front access panels. Make sure to disconnect the power or gas before removing any access panels.

6. Defective thermostat or thermistor

Most dryers have a combination of thermostats and a thermistor to regulate the temperature inside the dryer. If the dryer is heating but not drying, a defective thermostat or thermistor could be restricting the amount of heat or the temperature of the air used to help dry the clothes.

To determine if a thermostat or the thermistor is defective, each component will need to be tested with a multimeter for continuity. If there is no continuity, the component will need to be replaced to fix the problem. You will also need to find out what the resistance for each component should be at room temperature to administer the multimeter test.

Access to the thermostats and thermistor will require the removal of the rear, top, and front dryer panels, as mentioned above. The high-limit thermostat is usually located on the heating element assembly, and the cycling thermostat is usually located close to the blower wheel or ventilation exhaust. Dryers without a cycling thermostat usually have a thermistor instead.

Other components to check

If the above solutions have failed to fix your dryer’s problem, the following components should be checked with a multimeter and inspected for signs of damage to fix the problem.

  • Moisture sensor
  • Timer
  • Control board
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