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Clothes Dryer Stops and Starts

Electric Dryer Stops and Starts

Michael: I have a Whirlpool electric dryer that will run for a while, shut itself off, and—after a while—start again on its own then run a bit and shut off again. The dryer’s heating element works and the motor runs smoothly, But it even goes off and on when it’s empty. I’m wondering if the dryer’s thermostat would cause this to happen.

dryer control doesn't advance

Always make sure the dryer’s timer and controls are set properly before moving on to other measures.

Don V: Sounds like your dryer’s thermal overload switch may be kicking out because the dryer is getting too hot—something that often happens if it isn’t venting properly.

Try disconnecting the vent hose from the back of the machine and then running the dryer with nothing inside for a few minutes—if it continues to run fine, the problem is likely to be that the hose is clogged with lint or is kinked or being blocked in some other way. If it doesn’t run fine, the dryer probably has a defective thermal overload switch.

You get to it from the back of the dryer. Check out this guy’s awesome video—you can skip ahead to about 6:15 unless you want to watch the whole thing, which is really good: Clothes Dryer Repair Video.

He makes it look really easy! You can buy a replacement of the thermal overload in a parts store or online. The following site sells thermal overload switches—just make sure you get the right one for your machine: thermal overload switches.


Electric Dryer Doesn’t Turn Off

David: Electric clothes dryer gets very hot and doesn’t seem to turn off when it should. It seems to be drying okay but I’m concerned about how hot to the touch the outside of the dryer gets. Discharge line and vent are clear.

Don V: Normally, I would say the vent is clogged….but you’ve already checked that. In most cases, a thermal switch will prevent the dryer from operating if it gets too hot, but the switch itself can go bad. The timer can be broken, too. It’s really hard to tell without diagnosing the machine.

I would check the vent again—all of the way to where it exits the house to make sure it isn’t clogged. Refer to this page: Clothes Dryer Doesn’t Heat.

Then, if you need to get professional help, go to this site for free listings of qualified local prescreened clothes dryer pros.

Clothes Dryer Heats Up and Shuts Off

Karen: My clothes dryer will not stay running. The dryer heats up and then will shut off. After it cools down I can start again. It will run for a short time and shut off again.

Don V: Several things can cause this. Most likely, a thermal overload switch is shutting down the dryer because it’s getting too hot or the motor is overworking. A gas dryer can get too hot if the vent is clogged and, eventually, this can damage the motor. Or the overload switch itself can go bad. The timer can be broken, too. It’s really hard to tell without diagnosing the machine.

If it’s a gas dryer, start by making sure the vent isn’t clogged. Refer to this page: Clothes Dryer Repair.

Then, if you need to get professional help, go to this site for FREE listings of qualified local prescreened clothes dryer pros.

Call for free estimates from local appliance pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

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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  1. I have a Whirlpool Gas Dryer. It was turning on just fine, shut off after 10 mins or so, then after 10-20 mins start up again on its own or if I turned it off, opened the door, & turned it back on just a couple mins later. Now when it turns off, it makes a sound as if it’s trying to turn back on but can’t, & won’t. Some days I can use it for 10 or so minutes & some days it won’t turn on at all. Home Depot told me to check the Vent Hose. I did & it was REALLY clogged. Cleaned it it out, dryer started up, but 2-3 mins later shut off again. So I’ve crossed off vent hose from the list. Last 2 things from what I’ve read everywhere is the Thermal Fuse or Thermal Overload (I don’t know if that’s the same thin) or the motor. HOPEFULLY NOT the motor.
    Any ideas or advice???

    • Hi, the thermal fuse or overload (same thing) is designed to shut off the dryer if it gets too hot, which can (and will) happen if the vent hose is clogged. Now that you’ve cleaned it, you may have to clean the vent pipe that goes from the machine to the exterior wall where it vents outside.

  2. i have a hoover apollo delux,works great…i shut the door and sometimes it starts right away but sometimes it could be a few minutes before it gets going and runs great,switches off at the preset time. could it be the timer ?


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