Figure out why your dryer isn't drying

January 2, 2015

You pull your clothes out from the dryer, but something is wrong—they're almost as wet as when you first put them in. Discover why your dryer isn't drying.

Figure out why your dryer isn't drying

A curious clog

The first thing to check is the exhaust hose, which may be clogged with lint. Not only will this prevent the airflow to your dryer, it's also a fire hazard, so make sure to clear out the blockage right away. If the hose isn’t clogged, follow it along to make sure there isn’t a kink that might be preventing proper air flow.

Improper venting or clogged vents

If there are any issues with your venting or if it's simply clogged, you’ll know because either your clothes take especially long to dry, your dryer is making more noise than usual, or your clothes are hot but damp at the end of the cycle.

If you have an electric dryer:

Check the circuit

If your dryer is electric, you can quickly begin assessing the problem by checking that the breaker to the dryer’s electrical circuit is on. The circuit runs through a dual breaker switch and sometimes only half of the break switch will be off or fail to supply enough power to the dryer to produce heat. You may have to replace the breaker.

Check the heating element

The next place to check is the heating element which is made up of metal coils connected to wires that then connect to the dryer. If there is a break in the coil, the dryer won’t be able to produce heat. If there is an issue at this point, you will need a new heating element.

If you have a gas dryer:

Unlike electric dryers, gas dryers use a burner system to create the heat in your dryer. The burner system contains various parts, making it difficult to assess the burner system. However, there are a few things you can try:

    • If your dryer is hot at the end, then it is possible the problem is bad coils. Coils tend to age and this can cause them to lose the ability to hold the gas valves open. This can cause a chattering noise, which will indicate that this might be the problem.
    • If the dryer never heats, test the igniter's resistance with an ohm meter. Any reading above 100 ohms of resistance means the igniter needs replacing.
    • You can test the flame sensor by removing the small access panel in front and selecting a high temperature setting. Start the dryer and watch the burner assembly. The igniter should begin to glow shortly after the dryer starts. If it glows and stays on, the problem is likely the flame sensor.
    • The final thing you can do is check to make sure there isn’t a build up of dryer lint around the burner. The lint will create an impasse for the gas flow, preventing the unit from igniting.
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