Signs Your Dryer Isn’t Working Right

The last thing you want is to need clean laundry fast but find your dryer in disrepair. Fortunately, dryers tend to give plenty of warnings that they are breaking down — but if you don’t know what to look or listen for, you might not catch the signs or know what to do about them.

Before you have a serious dryer problem on your hands, you should keep your senses peeled for the following issues:

It Just Doesn’t Start

It should go without saying that this is the biggest, reddest flag of all. If you press “start” and your dryer doesn’t even try to turn on, you could have a serious issue on your hands. You should start by double-checking that the appliance is plugged in and that you didn’t trip your circuit breaker. If neither of those easy fixes work, it’s time to call an expert — trust me.

I spent weeks tinkering with various switches and belts, only to eventually cave and hire professional dryer repair near me. It’s not worth your time or effort to diagnose and treat a dryer this far gone; just bring in someone who knows the appliance. Unfortunately, that is going to be the best solution in most of these cases, but the sooner you obtain professional help, the better your dryer will function in
the long term.

It Stops Before Clothes Are Dry

Stops Before Clothes Are Dry

Dryers that stop mid-cycle, while clothes are still wet, most often suffer from overheating. Instead of jamming the “start” button over and over again, you should try to alleviate the issue. Not only will this preserve the life of your dryer, but it could also prevent an even greater disaster, like singed clothing or a house fire.

I make it a habit to clean out the lint trap after every dryer load, but some especially linty items, like bulky bedding, might require you to clean the lint trap mid-cycle, too. I also clean out the dryer vent — the crinkly metal tube connecting the dryer to the wall — every six months or so. If that doesn’t help your dryer finish its cycle, you might have a more serious electrical issue that requires
professional expertise.

It Doesn’t Turn Your Clothes Around

The dryer drum spins around, circulating your laundry to ensure all of it touches the hot air and becomes dry. If the drum doesn’t spin, your clothes are drying in a huge heap, with the outer layers becoming dryer before those down below.

It could be that you are overloading your dryer, and the drum isn’t strong enough to move the extra weight. You should start by making your dryer loads smaller, or even verifying that the drum turns when there is nothing inside. If the drum still doesn’t turn, you probably have a problem with a worn or broken belt. This requires disassembling the entire appliance, a task best tackled by an expert.

It Doesn’t Feel Hot Enough — or It Feels Too Hot

It Doesn’t Feel Hot Enough
A lot can go wrong when an appliance is changing temperature. If you suspect that something might be amiss with your dryer, you should spend some time checking on it while it is running to verify that it is running at the right temperature. There are a few tests you can make to better understand your dryer’s temperature:

  • Touch. If you stick your hand into the drum about mid-cycle, the air should feel warm, but not scalding. You can also place your hand on the exterior of your dryer. Even after multiple loads of laundry, your dryer should never feel more than warm to the touch.
  • Measure. For a more accurate check, you can place a thermometer in the dryer’s exhaust pipe. You should check your dryer’s operations manual to see what its standard temperatures should be, but generally, it shouldn’t dip below 100 degrees Fahrenheit or over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your dryer is underheating, something could be wrong with the heating element — and that means a call to dryer repair experts. If it is overheating, you should check the lint trap and vent first, and call the pros if that doesn’t seem to help.

It Bangs or Pops or Squeals or Grinds

At the best of times, your dryer probably isn’t the quietest appliance in your home, but even so, noises like bangs, pops, squeals or grinding are like cries for help. First, I always check to see if I put something in the drum that doesn’t belong, like a heavy belt buckle, loose change or a bag of microwave popcorn (it’s happened). If that’s not the issue, I immediately call the pros. Suspicious noises can indicate that serious damage is going on inside your dryer’s machinery, and unless you want to pay for a brand-new appliance, you need to address the issue fast.

Your dryer should have a lifespan of between eight and 12 years — but that’s only if you treat it right. By recognizing signs that something is going wrong, you can repair your appliance and keep your laundry dry and fresh for years to come.

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