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Why Won’t My Dryer Start? 10 Likely Reasons

man using dryer

Few things are more frustrating than throwing a basket of wet clothes into a dryer that suddenly refuses to turn on. For troubleshooting purposes, it’s important to note whether the dryer starts momentarily and then shuts off, or if no noise emanates from the machine at all.  This is because dryer repairs can be as simple as resetting the electrical breaker in your home, or as invasive as calling a repairman or even buying a new dryer depending on the issue and the quoted price. We’ll delve into common reasons your dryer isn’t starting, as well as ways you can maintain your dryer to prevent future issues.

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The 10 Reasons Your Dryer Won’t Start

1. Tripped Breaker

circuit breaker
Image By: Sutiwat Jutiamornloes, Shutterstock

If you’re running several appliances at the same time in a small area, the chances are pretty good that you’ve tripped the breaker. Hopefully, this is all that’s wrong because all you’ll need to do is reset¹ the breaker in your home.

One easy way to tell is to plug a small lamp into your dryer’s outlet and turn it on. If the lamp works, then the problem has something to do with the dryer itself. If not, then unplug and turn off everything in the affected area and try to reset the breaker to see if that solves the problem. If you’re still not getting any power, call your local electrician.

2. Broken Dryer Timer

person operating dryer
Image By: jarmoluk, Pixabay

Most dryers are equipped with timers and temperature settings to help control the dry cycles. If your timer is broken, your machine might run for a few minutes and then turn off, or it might run continually, which is a fire hazard.

Broken timers are fairly common problems that sometimes can have a DIY solution¹, but you might need to call a technician depending on the model and your comfort level. Remember, you’ll void the warranty if you damage your dryer while trying to fix it yourself. Always be certain you know what you’re doing before you pull out the toolbox.

3. Blown Thermal Fuse

Electric Fuse
Image Credit: InspiredImages, Pixabay

A thermal fuse is a relatively new part that’s designed to turn off the dryer if it reaches a certain temperature. However, if the thermal fuse is blown the dryer won’t start at all. This problem can be solved by DIY¹ or calling a technician.

4. Power Cord Problem

power cord
Image Credit: ldyshah, Pixabay

If your dryer won’t start at all, check the power cords to make sure there are no cuts or gashes. Also, never plug your dryer into an extension cord because that can short it out and potentially start a fire.

5. Start Switch Malfunction

man using washing machine
Image Credit: Elnur, Shutterstock

Press the start button and listen for any noise. If your machine is perfectly silent, there’s a good chance your start switch has died. While this is a quick and low-cost fix, you’ll probably want to call a repairman for this one.

6. Drive Motor Failure

handyman repairing the back part of a dryer
Image Credit: Penyushkina, Shutterstock

If this is your problem, you’ll probably hear an obnoxious buzzing sound as the drive motor attempts to churn the drum. You’ll need to call a technician to come out and fix it. Drive motors can reach into the $250-$400 range, so you might decide to look into a new unit instead.

7. Problem with the Motor Relay

dryer motor repair
Image Credit: Penyushkina, Shutterstock

The motor relay assists the drive motor. If it’s damaged the dryer won’t start at all, and the relay will need to be replaced.

8. Door Switch Detection

handyman fixing dryer door
Image Credit: new Africa, Shutterstock

Thankfully, dryers have safety features that prevent them from turning on if the door is open. Check to make sure the door is locking properly to help narrow down if it’s the switch or the door itself. Fortunately, these are both fairly common repairs that should cost you under $100.

9. Broken Drive Belt

fixing dryer drive belt
Image credit: Penyushkina, Shuttersdtock

The drive belt turns the drum, which rotates the clothes. Some dryers have sensors which will prevent the machine from turning on if the drive belt breaks. Other machines will keep working, but you may notice the clothes aren’t drying evenly or on time. You’ll need to replace the belt yourself or call a technician if you’ve determined that this is your issue.

10. Shorted-out Main Control Board

circuit breaker
Image Credit: Pixabay

Of all the possible things that could’ve gone wrong with your dryer, this one is one of the most unfortunate. The circuit panel tells the dryer when and how to operate. The connections can be replaced, but unfortunately if the control board is gone, then your machine probably is, too. Although the control board can be professionally replaced, it would probably behoove you to buy a new unit instead because it’s expensive.

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How To Maintain Your Dryer

To prevent problems in the future, make sure to always clean out the lint filter in between loads. At least once a year—or more if you have pet fur intertwined in your lint—you should clean out your dryer vent. This boosts your dryer’s efficiency by reducing drying time and can also help prevent fires.

Additionally, remember to always plug your dryer directly into an appropriate outlet. You should never use an extension cord because dryers pull an enormous amount of energy which can short out the cord and start a fire.

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Performing routine maintenance such as emptying the lint filter helps to keep laundry day hassle-free for as long as possible. Inevitably, though, the dryer will eventually not turn on. You’ll need to troubleshoot the solution if you’re looking for a repair rather than a replacement. The good news is that most common problems have a quick and low-cost solution, such as replacing the door switch which usually costs around $50.

You can fix many of these issues yourself, but you might want to consider hiring a repairman instead if your dryer is fairly new because fixing it yourself will void any factory warranties. You also might consider buying another dryer if the repair is going to cost you over $200 or involves a more serious part of the dryer such as the circuit panel.

Featured Image credit; Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock


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