How To Repair A Dryer That Will Not Start

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Door Switch

The door switch only allows the dryer to run when the door is fully latched. So it’s possible that your dryer won’t start because the signal that the door’s really closed isn’t being sent. Depending on your model, you’ll usually find the switch poking through the front panel into the dryer door frame. Unplug the dryer, and use your multi-meter to check for continuity. Test between the C terminal and the NO terminal: you ought to get zero ohms if the door switch button is down or the door itself is closed.

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, 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 ohms on a multi-meter. 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 so it might be good to see if one of the other thermostats has failed. You also might want to look at the section of this guide about a dryer running too hot, and check those parts for malfunction as well.

Rotary or Push Start Switch

A non-starting dryer could be nothing more than a dryer whose start switch has broken. Without this switch’s signal, the drive motor will not know to start turning the drum. You can unplug your dryer and test the switch with a multi-meter for continuity.

Drive Motor

The dryer drum is turned by a motor, which also operates the dryer’s blower. A broken motor may have been making a humming noise if a switch or winding has gone bad. The test to see if the motor is not working requires live voltage sent to the motor terminals, so this is a job for a service technician.

Main Control Board

If your model is electronic, it will have a circuit board in the main control panel instead of the timer that is in a mechanically run dryer. Unplug the dryer and look at this panel if your dryer won’t start: are there burn marks on the board? Are there signs there has been a short to any of the parts? It’s usually not possible to repair a broken main control board, so you’d need to install a replacement.


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 motor and its heater, a broken timer could be the cause if the dryer won’t start at all. Unplug the dryer and use a multi-meter to check for continuity in the contacts.

Terminal Block

A dryer that blows fuses or causes circuit breakers to trip could be one with a problem in its terminal block. Unplug the dryer and inspect the connection of the dryer’s inner wires to the dryer power cord. Any signs of wires or terminals that have overheated are warnings that the terminal block has loose connections that could overheat and possibly cause a fire. Repair or replace any damaged wires, but if the terminals themselves have overheated, you’ll need to replace the terminal block.

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