If your dryer turns on, but the dryer won’t dry clothes, it can have a variety of causes — but the most likely culprit 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.
In this guide, I will go over…
- How to diagnose a defective flex vent (behind the dryer)
- Clogged dryer ducts inside the wall
- Malfunctioning exterior covers
- Blown thermal fuses that stop the dryer
Table of contents
Dryer Not Drying But There Isn’t Heat
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.
Blown Thermal Fuse
The most likely reason the 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.
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 defective, it will get way too hot in the dryer, and the thermal fuse should trip if it is working correctly.
Faulty Heating Element
The heating element is the part of the dryer that actually produces the heat.
If the heating element is broken, it isn’t something that you can fix — it will need to be replaced.
Dryer Not Drying Clothes But Gets Hot
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.
Below are some of the most common issues with the dryer vent…
Crushed Or Clogged Flex Vent
The flex vent is the short and flexible vent hose behind the dryer that connects to the wall duct.
This vent is usually made out of either foil or metal that has ridges for maximum flexibility. Sometimes this short duct is also made out of rigid metal but it is less common.
The easiest way to check the flex vent is to pull back the dryer so you have access to the vent.
But before you fully pull back the dryer, just pull it back a few inches and try to take a peek behind the dryer with a flashlight. You want to see if the flex vent is crushed or compressed behind the dryer.
Understandably, homeowners want the dryer to be pushed as close to the wall as possible, but this frequently crushes the flex vent.
Fully pull back the dryer and remove the flex vent — it will either come off right away, or you will have to remove a small metal clamp. Check the hose for any type of lint clog or damage.
Read Also: Why Does My Dryer Smell Like Burning?
Clogged Wall Vent
The wall vent is the dryer 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).
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.
Wall Vent Is Disconnected
Sometimes it isn’t a clog that is blocking air flow but it is because the dryer duct is disconnected inside the wall.
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?
Clogged Exterior Hood
In addition to clogged dryer ducts and flex vents — sometimes the exterior vent hood gets clogged.
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.
Too Many Bends And Too Long
If your dryer duct is very long, and has multiple 90-degree turns, it can also greatly inhibit 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.
Dirty Lint Screen
This next point is very basic, but sometimes new homeowners don’t realize that you 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.