A dryer is one of your family’s most important appliances. Considering the cost of new dryers today, it would be wise for all dryer owners to learn how to troubleshoot their own dryers in order to avoid costly repairs or replacements when their dryer won't start. Even if you are not a handy person or trained in large appliances, you can learn the basics of how to troubleshoot your appliances and figure out why your dryer won’t start.
One of the most common problems that individuals deal with is when a dryer won't start. Because there can be several reasons behind this, you will want to troubleshoot the problem in order to pin point it.
Troubleshooting Your Dryer
Do not be scared by the term troubleshooting. This term is just a fancy way of saying problem solving. Basically, when you troubleshoot, you are going through a list of possible options as to why your dryer won't start. The best way to troubleshoot any problem, including a faulty dryer, is to list in detail the specifics of the problem. It helps to write it down.
Write it Down
Get near your dyer with a note pad and pencil. Write down the exact problem and when the problem started. It may also be helpful to include any special details that could have affected the dryer. For instance, had some clothing gotten hung up in the dryer recently? Was there a recent power outage or power surge during a storm? Was something dried in the dryer that should not have been in there? Details such as these will help you figure out possible culprits behind why your dryer won't start.
Write down these details and consider how each could have affected your dryer. You may also want to note how old the dryer is, and also do a Google search of any manufacturing problems your particular dryer might have had as reported by other owners.
Before You Start
Before beginning any repair on a major or minor appliance, be sure to cut off all power to the appliance. If your dryer is on a circuit alone, then turn off this circuit while you are working. Once the power has been turned off to that circuit, you will also want to unplug the dryer. You cannot be too safe when dealing with electricity.
While you are troubleshooting it is recommended that you take photos as you are removing panels. These photos can be indispensable later on. Photo the dyer inside as you remove the panel and photo the parts and the wiring. This can assist you when it is time to put your dryer back together.
In order to troubleshoot effectively, you will want a multimeter as well. This tool will help you evaluate the dryer more efficiently. A multimeter is an inexpensive little tool which can measure the electrical current coming through an outlet or an appliance.
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There are some common problems that dryers often encounter which are considered easy fixes. Issues such as worn out belts in older dryers can be replaced in less than an hour. Make sure you obtain the correct size and type of belt for your dryer. Other common problems include bad power supply. The power cords which hook your dryer up to the power supply can become damaged. This can be easily repaired by replacing your old power cord with a new one.
In some cases, especially with older dryers, the heating element can go out. This will cause the dryer to lose heat while working. You will first notice the clothes not getting dry on a single cycle. This can escalate to the point where the dryer doesn’t work at all. The most frustrating type of problem with a dryer, though, is when mysteriously the dryer won't start.
The power supply is always the best place to start troubleshooting why your dryer won't start. The power supply has many different components to it which you will want to look at. You have the fuse which controls the circuit that the dryer is on. Many dryers are on their own circuit in the home. This is because the dryer uses up a lot of electricity all by itself. You will want to check this fuse and make sure that it is working properly.
This is where your multimeter will come in handy. If you are not getting power to the dryer, the outlet may need to be replaced or further investigation should be done by a professional electrician. If the outlet is getting electricity, then your power cord might need to be replaced. The cords can fray over time due to age.
The terminal block is another important aspect of the power supply. In order to check your dryer’s terminal block the power will need to be on momentarily. Use extreme caution while checking the terminal block. Please note, if you do not feel comfortable doing this type of troubleshooting with electricity, contact a professional. To check the terminal block, you will need to remove the cord access panel. Using the multimeter, you should check the voltage at the terminal block. If the power is not reaching the terminal block, it will need to be replaced.
Another common reason your dryer won't start is because of a faulty door switch. The door switch controls the power on the dryer according to whether or not the door is open. At times debris can get into the door switch gasket. This is a simple fix. Simply clean out the gasket so that the door can close completely. If you suspect the switch is faulty, it can be replaced easily.
Another common dryer issue is the thermostat. Inside of your dryer there are actually a few different types of thermostats. All of these thermostats work together to regulate the temperature inside. Each drying cycle uses a different thermostat.
In order to test the thermostats, they must be removed from the dryer. You can find the cycling thermostat in the air flow path on most dryers. Look where the air flow path leaves the drum. In most dryers this will be in the venting system, but occasionally it can be found on the blower wheel housing. You will know you have found the thermostat because it is oval shaped and about 1- ½ inches long. Most people find it helpful to label the 2 wires that attach the thermostat for easier hook up later. You can test the viability of the thermostat with your multimeter.
Another common dryer issue that could cause your dryer not to start is the start switch. You can check this by removing the control knob and opening the control panel. Your multimeter will come in handy again here. If the reading is not zero, then you will need to replace the start switch.
A bad thermal fuse can also be a reason a dryer won’t start. The thermal fuse is a safety feature in some dryers. The thermal fuse is located in the exhaust duct. It is located here so that the fuse can sense if the temperatures in this area are above normal. One cause of above normal temps in this area can be caused by build up of debris. If the thermal fuse is tripped, the dryer will stay inoperable until the problem is resolved. The thermal fuse cannot be reset once it has been tripped. If your thermal fuse is the culprit, once you replace it the dryer should start back up.
Troubleshooting your own dryer may feel a bit overwhelming at first. There are several things you can do to make this job easier. YouTube has a vast array of videos available to help you understand how to effectively troubleshoot your own home appliances. A home owner can save a lot of money over time by seeing to their own maintenance and repairs. Use these videos to increase your confidence when it comes to home appliance troubleshooting.
Once you have successfully accomplished a few troubleshooting jobs, you will feel more assured in the future when a problem pops up. It is important, however, to note that if you ever feel like you are in over your head, or if you are dealing with dangerous ground in which you do not feel confident, you should definitely seek the help of a professional. In many cases a call to your local building supply, appliance store or hardware store could provide just the answer you need.
These professionals have a wealth of knowledge and in most cases are very happy to share that knowledge with you. When you are in your local hardware or building supply to pick up supplies do not feel shy about asking an employee if they have any information or tips for the project you are about to embark on. The most important thing to remember is that your appliances do not have to be disposable. You can repair your home appliances and save money.