DIY Dryer Repair Tips Before You Make a Service Call

  • 01 of 08

    DIY Tips Before You Call A Clothes Dryer Repairman

    Whirlpool Dryer Dials
    Tim Boyle/Getty Images

    Clothes dryers are pretty simple machines that use a fuel source to heat air and a motor and fan to blow it around. Many repairs are also pretty simple and you do some some things yourself to get your dryer working and prevent a service call.

    I've talked to dozens of appliance repair technicians though the years and watched them make repairs that can be solved even by the mechanically challenged. So, here are some tips to help you troubleshoot when your dryer isn't working properly. These...MORE may save you the expense of a service call or eliminate some issues so the problem is easier for the technician to solve.

    Problem: Dryer won't start

    Check to be sure the dryer is plugged in. This seems so simple but several repairmen told me that's often all it takes to make an appliance work. Plugs can get bumped loose by animals or fallen objects.

    If that doesn't work, move on to the next item to check.



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  • 02 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: First Things First

    Dryer Plug
    Photo by MML


    Problem: Dryer won't start

    Check to be sure the dryer is plugged in. This seems so simple but several repairmen told me that's often all it takes to make an appliance work. Plugs can get bumped loose by animals or fallen objects.

    If that doesn't work, move on to the next item to check.

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  • 03 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: Check the Power Supply

    Breaker Box
    Chad Reischl/E+/Getty Images

    Problem: Dryer is plugged in but still won't work

    Once you've made sure the dryer is properly plugged into the electrical outlet but it still won't run, it's time to check your central home electrical box to see if a fuse has blown or a circuit breaker has tripped. You may be able to replace the fuse or turn the breaker back on. This is a good time to check the voltage in the outlet with a voltage meter. Both electric and gas dryers require 240v to operate. Be sure that your...MORE outlet is functioning properly. If not, call an electrician immediately!

    Dryer power cords can also fail. Check the voltage and replace if needed

    If you have a gas dryer - natural gas or propane gas - be sure that the pilot light is lit and that you have an adequate supply of gas if the dryer feeds from a storage tank.

    Problem: Dryer is plugged in, breakers are fine but it still won't work

    • If you have had a power outage or surge in your home, it is possible that the thermal fuse in the dryer control panel is damaged. The thermal fuse "blows" if there is overheating or a surge of power and prevents the dryer from catching fire. This is a very good thing! The fuse is inexpensive and easy to replace yourself.
    • Dryers require a door switch to engage for the appliance to work. These switches can break and have to be replaced. They can also just get "gunked up" with lint. Use a cotton swab and a bit of rubbing alcohol to clean the contact areas.
    • If the dryer heats but the drum doesn't turn, check the rubber belt that connects the motor to the drum. It may be loose or broken and is inexpensive and usually easy to replace.



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  • 04 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: Dryer Runs but Won't Heat

    Dryer Repair
    Scott Leigh/E+/Getty Images

    Problem: Dryer runs but won't heat

    If a dryer turns on and then shuts off very quickly (under 5 minutes or so), it is usually a problem with either the thermostat or thermal resistor. The thermal fuse "blows" and turns off the dryer to prevent overheating.

    You can check the high limit thermostat, cycling thermostat, temperature sensor with a voltage meter to determine if they are working properly. While you're checking these elements, also check the heating element and timer to be...MORE sure they are receiving power. If you need a user or repair manual, you can find it here and replacement parts here.

    Then, replace that thermal fuse because it has probably blown when the problems began.


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  • 05 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: Dryer Makes a Terrible Noise

    Handyman Checking Refrigerator With Flashlight At Home
    AndreyPopov / Getty Images

    Problem: Dryer is making a clanking noise

    Stop the drying cycle and check inside.

    • Are all buckles fastened?
    • Are zippers zipped?
    • Are there "extra" items - coins, cell phones, keys - taking a spin?

    Remove the offenders and the noise should stop.

    Problem: Dryer is making noises and vibrates wildly

    If your dryer is still noisy and vibrates, it is off-balance. You must take steps to level the dryer or it will never be quiet and further damage to the structure can occur.

    Problem: Dryer is squealing...MORE and sounds like an airplane taking off

    If the dryer is making screeching or squealing noises, the problem is worn drum bearings or supports. Unless you are very handy with tools, this will require a repairman because the entire unit must be disassembled.


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  • 06 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: Clothes Take too Long to Dry

    Dryer Lint Screen
    Roel Smart/E+/Getty Images

    Problem: Clothes are taking too long to dry

    If it takes forever for a load of clothes to dry and your clothes come out linty, clean out that lint filter! If the lint filter is full, air is not flowing freely and your machine is forced to work longer than necessary.

    After you empty the filter, give it a good cleaning to get rid of any residue from dryer sheets.  You should also use a bit of rubbing alcohol to clean the electronic moisture sensors (one or two little metal strips inside the dryer...MORE drum).

    You'll get your dryer working more efficiently and prevent a possible fire.


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  • 07 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: Filter is Clean and the Clothes Still Won't Dry

    Towel in Dryer
    DWlabsInc/E+/Getty Images

    Problem: The filter is clean and the clothes still won't dry

    If your filter is clean, and the dryer is heating up but it is still taking too long to dry clothing; there are two things to check. Is the dryer vent system kinked, clogged or disconnected? Use at long-handled bristle brush to clean out the dryer vent. The vent should be as short as possible between the machine and the outside exhaust vent to prevent clogs.

    If the venting system is long and you can't reach the entire length with...MORE a brush, use a blower (even your leaf blower) to clean the system or hire a professional.

    If you still have a flexible white plastic dryer hose, replace it! It is a fire trap waiting to happen which is why new building codes require a rigid dryer vent. Learn the best venting practices for good dryer performance and fire safety.

    Now, go outside and check the outside vent. Most are designed with a trap door that only opens when dryer air - and lint - are blown out. If the vent hood gets coated with lint, the trap door can't open. This is often a problem in high humidity climates. Check it every few months, you'll be amazed at the amount of lint you find.



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  • 08 of 08

    Dryer Repair DIY: No Clue What's Wrong With The Dryer

    Engineer Mending Domestic Washing Machine
    MachineHeadz / Getty Images

    Problem: No clue what's wrong with the dryer

    You've checked everything. If you've kept the operating manual, get it out and read it! You may just find the answer to your question. If you don't have the manual, visit the manufacturer's website or one of these sites to download a manual. It may take a little time but it's much less expensive than a repair call.

    Problem: You've read the manual and still have no clue

    One last thing to do before calling a repairman is to...MORE visit online appliance repair sites. Two that I find are very helpful are RepairClinic and FixItNow. Or, take a look at specifice problems/solutions for Whirlpool Duet, Whirlpool Cabrio and gas dryers from other readers: