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Clothes Dryer Doesn’t Tumble

If your clothes dryer runs but doesn’t tumble, this indicates that something is wrong with the motor or, more likely, the belt that connects the motor to the drum. Fixing this involves opening up the dryer (see Opening a Clothes Dryer for Repairs) and replacing the broken belt, which can be ordered from an appliance repair store or site.

If your clothes dryer doesn’t run, hum, or otherwise show signs of life, perform the following diagnostics to determine the problem:

1Be sure it is plugged in and turned on. If necessary, check the receptacle it’s plugged into for power, using a working lamp, appliance, or voltage tester.

Replacing a dryer belt requires opening up the unit.

(Be aware that most electric dryers don’t plug into standard 120-volt receptacles; they operate on 240 volts.) Make sure the door is closed completely, the timer is advanced to the proper position, and the correct cycle is selected.

2If the receptacle is dead, check the circuit breaker or fuse that serves that circuit. Be aware that two breakers or fuses may serve the dryer—the motor will run when one breaker works, but the heating element requires both.

3Unplug the dryer and check the power cord and the terminal block that it attaches to on the dryer. If necessary, replace the cord.

Press the door switch to make sure it turns off the interior light.

4Open the dryer door and check the door switch that turns off the interior light, usually located just inside the opening where the door depresses it when closed. Press and release it; it should click each time. If it doesn’t, it’s probably broken. Remove the switch, test it, and replace it if needed.

5Is it a thermal fuse? If the dryer still doesn’t work, a thermal fuse or other electrical or electronic part may be faulty. The thermal fuse, usually located in the back cover panel or the vent duct collar, prevents a dryer from becoming dangerously overheated if something goes awry. This could include such maladies as a blockage in the dryer vent or the blower motor becoming locked up. If the dryer begins to overheat, the thermal fuse blows out and, depending upon the dryer model, this will either shut down the dryer completely or it will shut off the heat to the tumbler.

Unplug the power to the dryer. Remove the dryer’s back panel and locate a group of wires in the area where the hot air is vented. Near those wires, locate a small—probably white—plastic part that has two wires attached to it. This is the thermal fuse. Before replacing it with a matching fuse, purchased at an appliance parts center, check for any blockages and to make sure the blower wheel is operating properly so that the new fuse you install doesn’t blow out for the same reason as the last one. Call an appliance repair person if you suspect any other electrical part may be malfunctioning.

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About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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