10 Reasons Your Dryer Won't Heat (and Their Fixes)

10 Reasons Your Dryer Won't Heat (and Their Fixes)

Last Updated: December 6, 2023 by Jessica Menefee

Landlords who can diagnose and possibly fix a broken dryer in their rental units can save money in the long run. See the different issues that could potentially lead to a dryer not heating properly.

10 Reasons Your Dryer Isn’t Heating Up

Here are the most likely causes why your dryer isn’t working properly:

  1. The Lint Trap is Dirty or Clogged
  2. The Settings Need to Be Changed
  3. The Load Size is Too Large
  4. The Items are Too Wet
  5. The Circuit Breaker Flipped
  6. There is a Connection Problem
  7. The Vent is Obstructed
  8. The Thermostat is Malfunctioning
  9. There is a Heating Element Issue
  10. It’s Time for a Replacement

1. The Lint Trap Is Dirty or Clogged

    The lint trap helps protect your exhaust hose from clogging. When the lint trap is clogged, it makes your dryer work harder to heat the clothes. Your clothes may not feel like they are getting hot or dry if the lint trap is clogged.

    To clear the clog, follow a few steps.

    • Locate and open the lint trap – They are typically located on the top of the unit or inside the door opening. Then pull it out
    • Collect the lint – Use your fingers to gently pull the lint off the screen
    • Check the area – Excess lint may have fallen from the trap and remain in the hole where the lint trap goes. See if you can easily remove any additional lint with your fingers or with a narrow hose vacuum attachment

    2. The Settings Need to Be Changed

      The dryer’s settings can be changed based on the drying instructions for garment items. For example, a delicate item may say “Tumble Dry NO Heat” or “Tumble Dry Low”. Your unit’s heat setting may have been changed or accidentally bumped. Carefully review the settings to see if this is the issue.

      3. The Load Size is Too Large

      Overloading your dryer can keep your items from having the airflow needed to dry properly. Keep your drum approximately 75% full or less to ensure the items have enough room to tumble.

      If your load isn’t getting hot or taking too long, remove some of the items and restart it.


      Using large loads can put too much weight on your drum and damage your machine over time.

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      4. The Items are Too Wet

      An issue with your washing machine can also lead to problems with your dryer. The last cycle of the washing machine is usually the rinse and spin cycle. If you notice items from your washing machine are still soaking wet, it is best to run them through an additional spin cycle.

      The spin cycle helps to reduce the moisture in the items which reduces the dry time.

      Clothes and towels that are too wet have a hard time drying properly, which can cause you to think there is an issue with the heat.

      5. The Circuit Breaker Flipped

      Electric dryers are connected to two breakers at your electrical panel, one for heat and one for electricity. If there is a heating issue or a clog, your dryer may have signaled the electric panel of a risk.

      You can flip the breaker to fix the issue, just be sure to check for any lint clogs and that the electric cords seem to be in good order. But keep in mind, if the breaker continues to trip there could be a more serious problem.

      6. There is a Connection Problem

      Both gas and electric dryers require special plugs to work properly. An electric dryer needs a 240-volt, 30 amp circuit, and a 4-prong power cord while gas dryers require a 3-prong outlet and 120-volt electric circuit. Gas dryers also need a connection to the gas supply in your home.

      If you are not using the correct type of power or connection for your unit, you may experience the following:

      • The dryer not working at all
      • The dryer will turn on but there will be no heat (gas connection issue)

      The cords can also wear out, so if your unit is older your cord may need to be replaced.

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      7. The Vent is Obstructed

      Your dryer needs proper airflow to work correctly. If a vent is clogged, bent, or obstructed by an object it can be a serious hazard. Your vent is likely obstructed if:

      • It has been taking longer to dry the clothes or you feel a lack of heat
      • You experience a burning smell
      • The exterior of the dryer is hot, but the inside isn’t
      • There is a large amount of lint in your lint trap or outside your unit

      To determine if your vent is having a problem and to fix it, you should:

      • Pull the dryer away from the wall and unplug it – If you have a gas dryer, be sure to shut off the gas valve
      • Detach the dryer duct – Use a screwdriver to remove the vent tube from the unit
      • Remove the external dryer vent cover outside Use an extendable brush wand made for dryer vents and use it to clean both the outside dryer duct and the tube inside
      • Use a vacuum to reach any additional lint – A long narrow hose attachment should help you reach most areas. You can also use a shop vac in reverse mode to blow lint out
      • Reconnect the parts – Give your dryer a test run to ensure it is working properly and if you have resolved the issue
      • Hire a professional air duct cleaning service – If you believe this is the issue but you can’t or don’t want to try to clean it yourself, you can generally get this done for a few hundred dollars at most.

      8. The Thermostat is Malfunctioning

        There are typically two thermostats in your dryer designed to maintain a consistent temperature between 120 to 160 Fahrenheit (depending on the setting) and signal the heating element to cut the power if the dryer overheats. They are an essential part of the proper functioning of your clothes dryer.

        If the air in your dryer won’t heat up, a faulty thermostat may be the issue. If you have a multimeter, you can check the thermostat’s ohms or contact a repairman.

        9. There is a Heating Element Issue

        Your dryer uses either an electric heating element or a gas burner to heat the unit and dry the items inside. Over time, these pieces can become damaged, get worn out, or stop working altogether.

        Inspecting and repairing the heating element will require you to disassemble the unit. Unless you are a qualified handyman, it’s best to contact a professional if you suspect this is the issue.

        Attempting to repair it alone can cause you to accidentally damage other parts or worsen the problem.

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        10. It’s Time for a Replacement

        The average lifespan of a dryer is 10 to 13 years. If your unit is lacking in performance, it may be time for a replacement. Here are some common issues that can point to needing a new dryer:

        • Damp clothes
        • Loud noises
        • Strange smells
        • Exposed wiring

        While certain parts of a dryer can be replaced, depending on this issue, it may make more sense to replace the unit.


        Experts suggest using the 50% rule. If the dryer is more than 50% through its lifespan and is estimated to cost more than 50% of the cost to buy a new one, you should replace rather than repair it.

        How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Dryer?

        The average repair cost for a dryer is an average of $100 to $300. Of course, this varies by what is wrong with the dryer and what needs to be replaced. Check out the table below for the average cost to replace heating issues for your dryer.

        Replacement part Average cost to repair 
        Heating element $150 – $300
        Thermal fuse $75 – $150
        Thermostat $100 – $300

        How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Dryer?

        The cost of buying a new dryer varies greatly. A budget model starts around $200 while a high-end model can run over $2,000.

        Gas dryers typically cost more upfront but cost less to run.