Why is my dryer not drying? [9 Reasons]

Licensed Inspector Arie Van Tuijl
Licensed Inspector Arie Van Tuijl

🕖Last Updated On May 10, 2022

If your dryer turns on, but the dryer won’t dry clothes, it can have a variety of causes — but the most likely reason is a clog in the dryer duct.

A clog will inhibit air flow and prevent the moisture in the clothes from getting to the outside.

A clogged dryer vent can also overheat the dryer and may even lead to a lint dryer fire.

why is my dryer not drying

In this HomeInspectorSecrets.com guide, I will go over…

  • How to diagnose a lint clog in the flex vent, wall duct, or at the exterior cover
  • Why a malfunctioning thermostat can prevent your clothes from drying
  • Checking your thermal fuse since it may cut off power to the heating element

Keep reading to learn the most common reasons as to why your dryer isn't drying!

What You Need To Know About A Dryer Not Drying?

A dryer that turns on but isn't drying clothes likely has a venting problem or an issue with the thermostat or other component.

If you don’t feel any heat coming from the dryer when you open the door, then the problem is likely with a dryer component rather than the venting system.

If your dryer is getting hot, but your clothes aren’t drying, then there is a problem with your dryer vent. The dryer vent actually has numerous parts to it, and you will need to check at least the flex vent behind the dryer, the main wall vent, and the exterior vent cover.

It’s also important to keep your dryer vent cleaned since dryer fires are so common.

Read Also >> How To Vent A Dryer Without Outside Access?

Supplies You'll Need To Diagnose A Dryer Not Drying?

  • Screwdriver Or Drill - When diagnosing a dryer that isn't drying you will need a simple screwdriver or cordless drill so you can remove the vent clamps or dryer panel screws.
  • Flashlight - A flashlight will be very useful when looking for a lint clog in the flex vent or wall duct.
  • Ladder - You may need a ladder so you can get access to the exterior vent hood cover.

Why Is My Dryer Not Drying? (9 Reasons)

  1. Blown Thermal Fuse Trips Power To Heating Coil
  2. A Broken Thermostat Trips The Thermal Fuse
  3. Faulty Heating Element Won't Produce Heat
  4. Crushed Or Clogged Dryer Vent Restricts Airflow
  5. Clogged Wall Duct To Outside Restricts Airflow
  6. Wall Duct Is Broken Or Disconnected Cutting Off Airflow
  7. Exterior Vent Cover Is Broken Or Clogged
  8. Wall Duct Has Is Very Long With Many Turns
  9. Dirty Lint Screen Lowers Airflow And Stops Drying

Reason 1 - Blown Thermal Fuse Trips Power To Heating Coil

One common reason that a dryer isn’t drying is a blown thermal fuse.

The thermal fuse is a safety device that trips power to the heating coil (or even the whole dryer) if it detects a too high temperature.

To fix the issue, you will either need to reset the fuse or replace it with a new one.

Just remember to check the dryer venting system after fixing the thermal fuse because a clogged vent may be the reason it tripped. Clogged dryer vents are also safety hazards and could lead to a fire.

Read Also: How To Hook Up A Dryer Vent In A Tight Space?

Reason 2 - A Broken Thermostat Trips The Thermal Fuse

A defective dryer thermostat will make it too hot inside the dryer which trips the thermal fuse.

The thermostat is a device that maintains the correct temperature inside the dryer and also shuts off the heat at the correct point during the drying cycle.

If the thermostat is broken, when you turn on the dryer it will trip the fuse and your clothes won't dry.

Reason 3 - Faulty Heating Element Won't Produce Heat

A broken heating element won't produce any heat and your clothes won't dry.

The heating element is the part of the dryer that gets very hot. If the heating element is broken, it isn’t something that you can fix — it will need to be replaced. 

Reason 4 - Clogged Flex Vent Behind Dryer Restricts Airflow

A clogged, crushed, or damaged dryer vent will restrict airflow which will cause very slow drying times or no drying at all.

The flex vent is the short and flexible vent hose behind the dryer that connects to the wall duct.

The easiest way to check the flex vent is to pull back the dryer so you have access to the vent. It will either come off right away, or you will have to remove a small metal clamp and maybe some metal tape. Check the hose for any type of lint clog or damage.

One-third of all dryer fires are a result of lint buildup in the dryer duct.

Read Also >> How Often To Clean Your Dryer Vent?

Reason 5 - Clogged Wall Duct To Outside Restricts Airflow

A clog inside the wall duct can severely restrict airflow and prevent your clothes from drying.

The wall duct is the rigid and metal duct that is inside the wall, ceiling, or attic — and terminates to the exterior. This duct frequently gets clogged with bird nests, lint, and sometimes even fills up with water (due to condensation).

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one-third of all dryer fires are a result of lint buildup in the dryer duct.

The easiest way to check for a clogged duct is to turn on the dryer, and then to check for air flow from the exterior cover on the outside. Air flow should be strong and not weak, and the flapper should be fully open when the dryer is on.

If the air flow is absent or weak, then the duct may be blocked, and a professional dryer duct cleaning is recommended.

Reason 6 - Wall Duct Is Broken Or Disconnected Cutting Off Airflow

The wall duct that goes to the exterior can sometimes get disconnected inside of the wall which reduces airflow or cuts it off.

When you have the dryer duct professionally cleaned, they should be able to give you an opinion on whether the duct is disconnected.

If you suspect that the duct may be disconnected, you will need to hire a contractor to open up the ceiling or wall and fix it.

Read Also >> Why Is There Water In My Dryer Vent?

Reason 7 - Exterior Vent Cover Is Broken Or Clogged

The exterior vent hood cover can have a lint clog, stuck flapper, or other problem that is restricting airflow and preventing the clothes from drying.

Frequently, there is a metal or plastic screen on the exterior hood that gets clogged with lint.

These screens have to be periodically cleaned, maybe even more often than the dryer duct itself. Also, the flapper which is the part of the hood that opens when there is air flow — may be stuck closed due to lint or a broken spring.

And if there is a birds nest blocking the vent, it usually is on the very edge of the duct right next to the exterior hood.

Reason 8 - Wall Duct Has Is Very Long With Many Turns

A too long dryer duct that has multiple 90-degree turns will lower airflow and may prevent your clothes from properly drying.

However, a dryer duct clog is still the more likely reason that a dryer isn’t drying — but if the duct is very long with multiple turns — it is also more likely to get filled with lint and get clogged up.

If you have a really long wall duct, you may want to consider relocating the dryer duct to a different location.

Read Also >> How To Fix Or Repair A Dryer Vent Hose?

Reason 9 - Dirty Lint Screen Lowers Airflow And Stops Drying

A clogged lint screen will eventually prevent the dryer from drying your clothes.

Sometimes new homeowners or renters don’t realize that they need to clean the lint screen after each drying cycle.

If the lint screen is not clean, it will eventually prevent the clothes from drying.

Final Thoughts On When A Dryer Isn't Drying Clothes

There can be numerous reasons as to why your dryer isn't drying, but in my experience the most common reason is usually a clog in the dryer vent.

The lint clog or bird's nest may be inside the flex vent behind the dryer, or it may be inside the wall duct (usually near the exterior hood cover).

If your dryer isn't drying, we recommend that you turn on the dryer, and feel the airflow at the exterior hood cover.

Is there strong airflow? If the airflow is very weak, then you have some type of venting problem that is preventing your clothes from drying. If there is good airflow, then the cause of your clothes not drying probably has to do with the thermostat, heating element, or a blown thermal fuse.

Read Also >> How To Clean Your Dryer Vent From The Outside?

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