How To Fix A Dryer That Won’t Heat – Dryer Repair
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How To Repair A Dryer That’s Not Getting Hot

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  • Rated as EASY
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Heating Element

If your dryer is electric, it will have a heating element, consisting of a metal chamber containing a coil of heating wire. Electricity heats the wire, air flows through the chamber to become hot, and the hot air dries your clothes. You can test your heating element with a multi-meter to see if it is the source of your dryer’s coolness. Just remember to unplug the dryer first, then find the heating element behind either the front or rear panel.

High Limit Thermostat

If the exhaust vent on your dryer is kinked or blocked, the hot air will be confined in the dryer and the high limit thermostat attached to the heating chamber will trip and stop the electricity from flowing to the gas valve or heating element. If the vent system stays blocked the high limit thermostat will eventually fail and, the dryer won’t heat up anymore. You’ll need to unplug the dryer and use a multi-meter to check the high limit thermostat for continuity. If the high limit thermostat is bad, remember to correct the cause of the air flow restriction before you change the part.

Cycling Thermostat

A dryer that won’t heat up may have a defective cycling thermostat. This part governs the temperature of the dryer drum by opening when the drum gets hot and thus breaking the electrical flow to the heating element. Then when the drum cools, the cycling thermostat closes, power can run through it, and the heater is switched back on. You’ll find the cycling thermostat in the internal airflow ducting, generally on the housing of the blower. You can unplug the dryer and use your multi-meter to make sure the thermostat has continuity at room temperature.


If you have a late-model gas dryer, it will have a glow bar, or igniter, adjacent to the gas valve burner tube. This fragile part glows until the radiant sensor opens the gas valve, and then it ignites the gas. Some igniters are in a coil, and some are flat. Unplug the dryer, remove the burner assembly, and carefully examine the igniter. If you don’t see an obvious break or the white or yellowish signs of burn, you can use a multi-meter to test the igniter for continuity. A broken or burned igniter will need to be replaced.

Radiant Flame Sensor

On a gas dryer, there’s a radiant sensor or flame sensor on the burner assembly, next to the igniter. This sensor detects heat, whether it comes from the burner flame or the igniter. The igniter’s heat signals the gas valve to open, and the burner flame keeps the gas valve on. A broken sensor will result in a valve that won’t open or an igniter that won’t glow. If it’s the igniter that isn’t getting its cue from the sensor, unplug the dryer and use your multi-meter to check the sensor for continuity. And if the igniter’s always aglow but the gas valve won’t open, then the sensor has malfunctioning electrical contacts and needs to be replaced.

Gas Control Valve

If your gas dryer is not producing enough heat, there may be a problem with the gas valve, which is in the gas burner system. The gas valve is designed to receive power from the circuit of the igniter and flame sensor, which will power the coils of the valve and allow the valve to open. Gas is then released into the burner, the gas ignites, and the dryer heats up. If this circuit is interrupted, then the igniter would glow at first but extinguish itself before a flame materialized. Or the valve could function to start the heater off, but stop working before the clothes are all the way dry.


The gas burner valve in today’s gas dryers functions via coils. The heat circuit controls these coils, which are at the top of the gas valve. No heat will be produced if any of the coils are defective. Sometimes the coils work when they are cool, at the start of the dryer’s cycle, but then stop working once they warm up. You can unplug your dryer and use your multi-meter to check the continuity of the gas valve coils.

Temperature Sensor

Similar in function to the cycling thermostat of a mechanically operating dryer, the temperature sensor on some electronic dryers has the job of managing the degree of internal heat. Whether your model has one or more temperature sensors, they operate by changing resistance as the temperature changes. Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website to find the proper resistance of your dryer’s temperature sensor at room temperature. Then unplug the dryer, clean the sensor if it is dirty, and use a multi-meter to measure the resistance of the sensor(s).


If your dryer doesn’t have an electronic main control board, it probably uses a timer instead. This device has some gears and cams and electrical contacts, driven by a tiny motor. Since the timer contacts are what control the dryer’s heater, a broken timer could be the cause if the dryer isn’t making heat. Unplug the dryer and use a multi-meter to check for continuity in the contacts.

Thermal Fuse

To prevent fires, most dryers will come with a thermal fuse, a heat-sensitive fuse that will break the flow of power to the drive motor if the machine gets too hot. If your dryer is not running, it could be that this fuse is broken, is malfunctioning or has been tripped by high heat. So you might want to check it with your multi-meter. Unplug the dryer and find the thermal fuse, usually inside a housing made of white plastic and about an inch long or a bit longer. Your dryer may have more than one. On an electric dryer, the thermal fuse will be on the housing for the blower, or on the housing for the heating element, or both. On a gas dryer, the thermal fuse is on the housing for the burner. A functional fuse will read zero on a multi-meter at room temperature. Keep in mind that if this safety device has gone off, it usually means that the dryer has gone above its safe level of heat, and it would only do that if one of the other thermostats or components has failed, or the exhaust vent is restricted.

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