User pressing button on white front load dryer

Troubleshooting Why a Dryer Isn’t Heating

Few experiences are as frustrating as doing your laundry only to have the dryer not dry your wet clothes. If your dryer isn’t heating, there are a few DIY fixes you can try to save your laundry and your time. All you need is an understanding of your dryer’s parts.

As always, if you do not feel comfortable attempting these possible fixes on your own, contact a qualified repair technician for further assistance.

A white top load washer next to white front load dryer in kitchen entryway A white top load washer next to white front load dryer in kitchen entryway

Why is my dryer running but not heating?

There are several possibilities for why your dryer is running but not heating your laundry. Some are simple DIY fixes while others require professional servicing. They can be due to either heating issues or poor dry performance:

Heating issue:

  • Lack of power

  • Heating Elements

  • Blown thermal fuse

Poor dry performance:

  • Clogged vents/lint screens

  • Soaking-wet clothes

  • Too-large load sizes

Blue and green colored clothes tumbling in dryer Blue and green colored clothes tumbling in dryer

Why is my dryer blowing cold air?

The drum of your dryer and its heating element are separate, so it is possible for your dryer to spin but not heat your clothing—the two are not necessarily related. This, however, is an important piece of information that can help you narrow down the source of the issue with your dryer not heating.

User adding clothes to white front load dryer User adding clothes to white front load dryer

Can a dryer still dry without heat?

If your dryer is not blowing hot air, you will experience limited drying capabilities with a similar performance to line drying. Your dryer will effectively not be able to do much more than tumble dry your clothing—fluffing up your clothes and/or removing lint.

User transferring clothes from white top load washer to white front load dryer User transferring clothes from white top load washer to white front load dryer

6 Causes Why a Dryer is Not Heating

Because dryers are complex machines, there could be a few reasons why your dryer runs but is not hot. Thankfully, more than a few of these potential causes have DIY solutions. Continue reading to learn more about the possible reasons why your dryer is not drying your clothes and fixes to try.

Clogged Vent/Lint Screens Icon

1. Clogged vent/lint screens

Clogged Vents: Dryers require proper airflow to dry clothing, and when their vents are clogged, this element is disrupted. This leaves you either with a dryer that turns but does not heat (due to a high temperature limit being reached by the heating element) or a dryer that takes an extremely long time to dry.

Clogged Lint Screen:
Another possible clogging issue is with your lint screen. Located at the top of the dryer or by the drawer that opens it, your lint screen is an important component of your dryer that must be cleaned after every use. Otherwise, excess lint buildup can reduce airflow placing additional stress on the heating system.

How to Fix: Clogged vent/lint screens

For Clogged Vents:

  • Make sure your vent is installed properly with 45-degree elbows.

  • Take off the vent from your dryer and vacuum the lint and debris inside it.

  • Remove the exhaust hood from the exterior of your home and vacuum lint and debris here, as well.

  • Remember: venting needs to be cleaned every one-to-two years to maintain performance.

For Clogged Lint Screens:

  • Pull the lint screen straight up.

  • If your model has a tab, press it down and open the screen.

 

  • Clean the lint off with your fingers.
  • If lint remains, clean screen with mild soap and water.

 

  • Close the lint screen and push it firmly back into place.

Lack of Power Icon

2. Lack of power

Electric Dryers: These dryers require a 240-volt supply to operate. If your dryer is plugged into an outlet that is providing less than 240 volts, it will not be able to deliver power to your unit. If you are unsure of whether your wall outlet carries this voltage, check with a qualified electrician.

Gas Dryers: These dryers receive their gas supply via a valve and the handle must be turned parallel to the gas pipe to open. If the valve is closed, the drum of the dryer will still turn, but the dryer will not heat.

How to Fix: Lack of power

For Electric Dryers:

  • Ensure your wall outlet has at least a 240-volt power supply.

  • Make certain the dryer’s circuit breakers have not been tripped by unplugging your dryer and resetting both circuit breakers before plugging your dryer back in again.

For Gas Dryers:

  • Go to your dryer supply line.

  • Once there, check the position of the gas valve.

  • If it is perpendicular to the gas pipe, turn it parallel to the pipe to open it.

Too-Large Load Sizes Icon

3. Too-large load sizes

Dryers require the proper amount of space to allow for hot air to circulate amongst the unit and the clothes to tumble. If too large of a load size is placed within the machine, your dryer does not have the proper space. Without proper air flow, drying time will increase, placing unnecessary stress on the heating system.

How to Fix: Too-large load sizes
  • Remove your clothes from the dryer and observe whether any have dried to check that your heating element is working.

  • Make sure you are only filling up the dryer drum up to about ¾ full.

  • If you have a front-load dryer and can observe your clothing drying, make sure your clothes have the proper space to tumble.

Soaking-Wet Clothes Icon

4. Soaking-wet clothes

Placing clothes that are too wet into a dryer can give the mistaken impression that your dryer is not heating due to a mechanical issue. Unlike damp clothes, very wet clothes create excess moisture in the drum that’s difficult to dry.

How to Fix: Soaking-wet clothes
  • Check your clothes’ wetness by hand after wash before placing in the dryer.

  • If they are still too wet, run a spin or drain and spin cycle to remove excess water from the load.
  • When placing wet rags/towels/bathing suits in the dryer, either wring them out by hand or use a washer spin cycle to remove excess water.
Heating Elements Icon

5. Heating elements

Electric dryers utilize a heating element to heat the air in the drum, whereas gas dryers utilize a burner. If damage occurs to either of these heating systems, your dryer will no longer be able to heat.

How to Fix: Heating elements
  • Because dryers require disassembling the machine to examine/replace their heating elements, we recommend contacting a professional if the previous DIY solutions fail to return heat to your dryer.
Blown Thermal Fuse Icon

6. Blown thermal fuse

Dryers are mandated to carry a thermal fuse to prevent fires. These fuses are a one-time device: when the temperatures within the dryer get too high, they will go off, shutting down the dryer. If your thermal fuse has activated, you must replace it before using the dryer.

How to Fix: Blown thermal fuse
  • Because blown thermal fuses require disassembling the machine to examine/replace the fuse itself, we recommend contacting a professional if the previous DIY solutions do not return heat to your dryer.

Find Your Next Maytag® Dryer

Dependable drying is the cornerstone of cleaning laundry. That’s why Maytag® top and front load dryers are designed for performance, convenience and control. With features on select models like the Extra Power button, which boosts drying power on any cycle (results may vary based on load size and type), wrinkle prevention and quick dry cycles, you’ll be amazed at what a dryer can do.

Side-by-side white Maytag® front load washer and dryer on pedestals in laundry room Side-by-side white Maytag® front load washer and dryer on pedestals in laundry room

When to Get Your Dryer Professionally Serviced

As a few of these potential issues have shown, sometimes DIY just isn’t the best fix when your dryer isn’t heating. If you suspect you will need to open up your dryer or inspect parts, it’s best to have a professional service your dryer.

Here are some issues that should be serviced:

  • Broken heating elements

  • Blow thermal fuses

  • Disabled thermal fuse

  • Defective timer motors

  • Electrical or gas issues

  • Faulty flame sensors

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