No lights, no sounds, maybe not even a click? It doesn't even try. Here's the place to start in and walk through the steps that will help us sort out this problem.
- It's a good idea to check everything, even the super simple! And hey, the super simple ones are easy.
- If your dryer does show a few signs of life, like the light inside comes on, or you can hear some internal humming a good place to start might be the Dryer Won't Spin page.
Is the dryer plugged in? This isn't an insult, it happens.
- Someone else might have unplugged it and forgot to plug it in again.
- If it's unplugged, plug it in. Does it start? You're done!
Do you have power turned on at the electrical panel? What kind of dryer you have will affect how you go about this. We'll break it down here:
- Gas Dryers: Check the circuit breaker at the panel that feeds the outlet for the dryer.
- It may be marked “Laundry” for example because this kind of dryer can share an outlet with your washing machine.
- Is it tripped or off? If so, turn it on.
- Electric Dryers: Check the circuit breaker (or breakers) that are probably marked “Dryer” at the panel.
- On older homes, this breaker may be two breakers or a breaker with two handles.
- In either case, the handles may be tied together with a rod or clip.
- Occasionally, only one breaker of the pair will trip, especially with older panels.
- Make sure both breakers are on. A good way to ensure this is to turn them both off and then turn them both on again.
- If the breaker has only one handle, is it tripped or off? If so, turn it on.
Check the dryer. Does it start? If it does, you're done!
No Power at the Outlet
You've checked the breakers; they look good, but still no response. Now it gets a little more involved, but still fairly easy.
You want to make sure that you are getting the right voltage at the outlet. The steps for gas dryers and electric dryers are different. Here's how to check. You'll need something to measure AC voltage with, like a simple multimeter.
For Gas Dryers:
- A time saver: if your washing machine works, and is plugged into the same pair of outlets, swap the plugs and see if your washing machine still works in the dryer's outlet. If so, it's time to move to the next step for the dryer.
- If you're using a meter, there should be about 120V between the two slot holes in the outlet (receptacle). If ok, skip ahead to the next possible cause.
For Electric Dryers, it is a little more complicated here. There are two types of receptacles (outlets) encountered. Look at the diagrams.
- Older homes will have the NEMA 10-30 3-hole receptacle layout. Newer homes will have the NEMA 14-30 4-hole layout for receptacles.
- If you have the NEMA 14 layout you should have 240V between the two “line” contacts on the receptacle.
- For NEMA 10 you should have 240V between the two line contacts.
- If you don't have 240V and instead have around 208 volts (you're probably in an apartment), that's ok, just check to see that you have 120 volts from each of the "line" contacts, to the neutral contact. Is the voltage ok? Move on to the next step.
- If all readings show good for voltage, move to the next step.
If you don't have the right voltage (it's under 200V) you need to find out why. At this point calling an electrician may be the best thing.
There is a condition which can very occasionally occur, which will give good readings for voltage, but will not allow the dryer to operate properly. It usually involves a splice somewhere in the feed to the dryer which is still connected, but is a very poor connection. This is something for an electrician to locate. For more info, check out this article about electrical wiring involving dryers.
Damaged Cord or Plug
This last step, before we consider what's going on inside the dryer, is pretty straightforward.
- Physically inspect the whole cord. Does it have a really bad kink, or has it been crushed or cut?
- If it looks ok outwardly, you should physically move it around, especially at the plug, and at the back of the dryer where it goes in to the machine. Move it a lot—just wiggling it a bit probably won't work. You're checking to see if something is loose or broken.
- If there is a change when you do this, like the machine shows some life, maybe intermittently, you may need to replace the cord on your appliance after you check to see if the cord connections are ok.
- Unplug the dryer. Check the cord connection near the rear of the dryer (you may have to open up a small cover, on the cabinet). If a connection is loose, you will need to tighten it.
- If there was no response, you need to start looking inside the unit.
- Some dryers may show some signs of life, like a humming timer motor, but won't turn on and tumble the clothes when the start button is pressed.
- On older or simpler dryers, if the door switch goes bad, the dryer acts completely dead.
The door switch can be more readily checked from the outside of the dryer, so we do it first.
- A quick check is to plug the dryer in and try to operate the door switch with a pencil or your finger, listen for a click, and see if the dryer starts.
- If it does start, you know the switch can work.
- Check that your dryer door is not damaged or bent.
- Some dryers have a small boss or probe that operates the door switch, if this is broken it will not work. Replace it.
- If the door's ok, the switch may work, but be worn out or have a broken operating lever so that the door won't operate it anymore,
- Check to see if the switch has come loose or wiggles.
- If it's snug, replace it, it's worn out.
- If it wiggles or is loose, tighten it, then check it again with the door. If it doesn't work, replace it.
- If there's no click, and it doesn't start, unplug the dryer. It's time to test it with a meter.
- Disconnect one terminal on the switch.
- Using a multimeter set to the continuity or Rx1 setting to check the switch.
- When the switch is pushed it should show continuity. If it doesn't, replace it.
- If it tests good, move on to the start switch.
Unplug the dryer. If you have a mechanical push button or knob to start the dryer, this is the one to check; if the start switch doesn't work, the dryer won't start.
- You may be able to get to this switch in an upper console on the unit, and not have to open the whole dryer up.
- Disconnect it from the machine (you probably don't have to remove it).
- Test continuity when the switch is pushed as it is only a momentary contact.
- If it doesn't show continuity when pressed (a continuity beeper on the meter helps here) it needs to be replaced.
- If it's good, go to the next step.
Blown Thermal Fuse
Unplug the dryer. At this point we now have to get really inside the unit.
- Virtually all dryers are designed so that if the thermal fuse blows, the dryer will not start because the motor can't run when it is blown.
- There may be two of this type of protective device, on some models one is called the thermal fuse, and the other is called the thermal cutout.
- The thermal fuse will likely be located near the rear part of the unit, where the heated air is leaving the blower for the exhaust duct.
- The thermal cutout is usually located near the heat source, like the heating element on electric dryers. Often the dryer will start but not heat if the thermal cutout is the problem, but it's ok to check it here.
- To test it you just need to check continuity.
- Make sure the dryer is unplugged (we said it again).
- Disconnect the wires from the thermal fuse(or cutout) and then check it.
- Use the continuity beeper of your meter if it has one.
- If no continuity, it needs to be replaced.
If the fuse blew, it's an extremely good idea to make sure that all the exhaust ducts are not blocked with lint, which will slow the airflow and make the dryer overheat. Otherwise, you will just blow the thermal fuse again. Here is a link to ur Dryer Maintenance page which will help with this and other airflow issues.
Belt Switch or Belt
The belt switch doesn't often fail, but it is fairly simple to check. This is a switch that is usually located next to the tensioner or idler pulley assembly that keeps the belt tight around the drum of the dryer. If the belt is broken, you have found your problem. Replace it.
- Your dryer may just have the pulley mounted on a leaf spring with no belt switch, if this is the case, jump to the next possible cause.
- The idler pulley is frequently mounted on a spring loaded arm.
- The arm is set up so that when there is no belt going around the pulley (like when the belt is broken) the spring pulls the arm down so that it operates a switch.
- The belt switch shuts down the dryer and keeps it from operating for safety. If the clothes can't tumble, they could overheat, or block airflow.
- If the switch fails the dryer will not work.
- Make sure the dryer is unplugged.
- When the arm mentioned above swings it operates the switch, and opens the circuit.
- You want to test for continuity with the switch in the UN-operated or normal position (like it has a belt on), between the COM and NC terminals.
This is the least likely of the usually encountered problems and likely the most expensive.
Occasionally there will be corrosion problems on some of the cables connecting the board which can cause the totally dead dryer effect. This can arise from humid air from the dryer leaking into the cabinet and condensing on the control board.
If you find any corrosion, clean it off with 90% (or higher) isopropyl alcohol and try reconnecting things enough to turn the dryer on. If it didn't work, you'll probably need to replace the control board to get your dryer working again.