Dryer Won’t Start? Let’s Troubleshoot

The next junior league game is this weekend and your child’s uniform really took a beating during the last double-header. You’ve already applied vinegar and baking soda to help break up the dirt and grass stains. In addition, you applied heavy-duty detergent during the wash cycle. But, after loading the clothes into the dryer, you’re dismayed to discover nothing happens when you press the start button.

What is supposed to happen when the dryer’s start button is pressed?

If you depend on a gas dryer to dry your clothes, towels, and linens, the gas burner will be energized by a standard 120 volts of alternating current after the timer and heat setting are selected and the start button is pressed. The voltage will pass through the cycling thermostat, the high-limit thermostat, and the thermal fuse, if applicable, on its way to the burner assembly. The voltage then travels through the flame sensor and the first gas valve coil before reaching the igniter, which will begin to glow. When the igniter gets hot enough, the flame sensor will detect the heat and the contacts will open, which diverts the current to the other gas valve coils. The coils then activate plungers in the gas valve which allow gas to flow into the burner housing. Since this happens very quickly, the igniter remains hot enough to ignite the gas into a flame which heats the air being drawn through the rotating drum to dry the load.

Electric dryer models require 240 volts of alternating current to function, through two “legs” of voltage, each carrying 120 volts. The timer, heat selector, and start switch allow the first leg of voltage to carry the current to the drive motor as well as the cycling thermostat, high-limit thermostat, and thermal fuse, on its way to the heating element. The second leg of voltage carries the current through a switch on the motor which closes when the motor is running. This sends the current to the opposite side of the heating element. Once both legs of voltage reach the element, the circuit is closed, and the element will begin to heat the air to dry the clothes.

Let’s Q & A to diagnose the problem

So, how can you properly diagnose the reason for the dryer not starting? By approaching the problem systematically. Here are the questions you should be asking, along with the answers that will guide you through a successful troubleshooting process:

Is the appliance plugged in and does it have power?

No – Ensure plug is tightly pushed into electrical outlet and outlet is supplying power. You can use a volt meter or multimeter set to “Volts AC” to test the outlet for proper voltage.

Yes – A defective start switch could be preventing the dryer from starting.

Does the dryer hum, but not start, when you attempt to start the dryer?

Yes – The start switch is not defective.

No – The start switch could be defective. You should uninstall the control panel, remove the start switch, and use a multimeter to test the switch for electrical continuity to determine if it is faulty or not.

Does the start switch test positive for electrical continuity?

No – The start switch is defective and will need to be replaced.

Yes – The start switch is not defective. A blown thermal fuse is the next most likely cause of the dryer not starting. The fuse is located on the blower housing or at the dryer’s heat source – the heating element housing for electric dryers, the burner assembly for gas dryers. Uninstall the appropriate panels and remove the drum, if necessary, to access the fuse. Use a multimeter to test the fuse for electrical continuity.

Does the thermal fuse test positive for electrical continuity?

No – The thermal fuse has blown and will need to be replaced. Be aware that the thermal fuse will blow as a result of the dryer overheating. The main cause of overheating is the dryer’s venting being clogged with lint. Clean out the venting regularly.

Yes – The thermal fuse is not defective. The next most likely cause is a faulty door switch. The door switch is located inside the dryer’s front panel. Use a multimeter to test the switch for electrical continuity.

Does the door switch test positive for electrical continuity?

No – The door switch is defective and will need to be replaced.

Yes – The door switch is not defective.

Is the drive motor making a humming noise?

No – If the thermal fuse, start switch, and door switch are all working properly, the drive motor may be defective and should be replaced.

Yes – Remove the belt from the motor and check the blower wheel for obstructions.

Is the blower wheel obstructed?

No – The drive motor may be defective and should be replaced.

Yes – Remove the obstruction.

Is the drive belt broken?

Yes – Some dryers have a belt switch that will shut off power to the dryer if the belt breaks. Replace the belt.

No – The drive belt is not defective, but the belt switch could be.

Does the dryer have a belt switch?

No – Your next step is to inspect the main control board or timer.

Yes

Does the dryer make a humming noise when you try to start it?

Yes – The belt switch is not defective.

No – Use a multimeter to test the belt switch for electrical continuity.

Does the belt switch test positive for electrical continuity?

No – The belt switch is defective and should be replaced.

Yes – The belt switch is not defective. Your next step is to inspect the main control board, or timer, usually located behind the control panel. These components rarely fail, but you can inspect the control board for signs of burning or a shorted-out component and use a multimeter to test the timer for electrical continuity while consulting the part’s wiring diagram.

Does the main control board show signs of burning or a shorted-out component?

Yes – The main control board is likely defective and should be replaced.

No – The control board could still be defective if all other components are intact and working properly.

Does the timer test positive for electrical continuity?

No – The timer is defective and should be replaced.

Yes – The timer could still be defective if all other components are intact and working properly.

Let Repair Clinic help start your gas or electric dryer

Once you’ve determined the cause of your dryer not starting, Repair Clinic.com makes it easy to find the exact replacement part you need to fix the appliance. From thermal fuses, drive motors, and control boards, to start switches, door switches, and belt switches, Repair Clinic stocks genuine manufacturer parts including those manufactured by Whirlpool, Electrolux, Kenmore, GE, Maytag, LG, and Samsung. For a complete list of replacement parts compatible with your appliance, simply enter the full model number of the dryer in the Repair Clinic website search bar. You can then use the “Part Category” filter (Example: “Switch”) and the “Part Title” filter (Example: “Door Switch”) to identify the exact part that matches your model. In addition to millions of replacement parts, Repair Clinic also has thousands of “how-to” videos, diagrams, and articles to guide you, step-by-step, through the part replacement procedure, so you can complete the repair yourself quickly and successfully.

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