Short answer: A dryer that keeps stopping and starting may be due to a faulty thermostat or clogged vent. Check and replace these components as needed to resolve the issue.
A malfunctioning dryer can quickly turn a routine laundry day into a frustrating ordeal. One of the common issues that homeowners often encounter is a dryer that keeps stopping and starting unexpectedly. This erratic behavior not only disrupts the drying process but can also be a source of concern for safety and efficiency. Understanding the possible causes and troubleshooting steps for this problem is essential for resolving it and ensuring the continued functionality of your dryer. In this guide, I will explore the various reasons behind a dryer that stops and starts intermittently and provide practical solutions to address this issue.
Why Does My Dryer Keep Stopping And Starting?
Over time, the wear and tear on your dryer motor can lead to it overheating during a cycle. This excessive heat can trigger the thermal overload switch, a safety feature designed to prevent potential fire risks by turning off the machine. While the motor might restart after cooling down for a few minutes, the underlying issue persists. Here’s a breakdown of the possible causes for a dryer that keeps stopping and starting:
Overheating Dryer Motor:
If the dryer motor overheats, it may shut down as a safety precaution. Once the motor cools down, it may attempt to restart, leading to a pattern of stopping and starting.
Faulty Drive Belt:
The drive belt is responsible for turning the dryer drum. If this belt becomes damaged or loosens, the drum may not rotate consistently, leading to intermittent operation.
Faulty Door Latch:
The door latch ensures the dryer door remains closed during a cycle. If it’s malfunctioning, the dryer might think the door is open when it’s not, causing the machine to stop and start.
Faulty Moisture Sensor:
Modern dryers often have moisture sensors that detect how wet the clothes are and adjust the drying time accordingly. If this sensor malfunctions, it can misread the moisture levels, leading the dryer to stop prematurely.
A defective motor relay can disrupt the power being sent to the motor, leading to intermittent operation. If the relay fails to consistently close the circuit, the motor may stop and start.
Issue in Power Source:
Fluctuations or interruptions in the power supply to the dryer can result in erratic operation. Such inconsistencies in the electrical source can cause the dryer to stop and start repeatedly.
Fixing Dryer Keep Stopping And Starting
Check the electrical supply:
If your dryer is experiencing issues and you suspect a problem with the electrical supply, it’s essential to take safety precautions before attempting any checks or repairs. Working with electricity can be dangerous, and if you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s best to consult with a professional. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to check and potentially fix issues related to the electrical supply of your dryer:
Step 1: Safety First: Ensure the dryer is unplugged or disconnected from its power source before beginning any inspection or repair. Wear rubber gloves and shoes with insulated soles when working with electrical components.
Step 2: Check the Power Cord: Inspect the power cord for any signs of wear, fraying, or damage. If the cord is damaged, it should be replaced. Ensure the power cord is securely connected to the dryer and the wall outlet.
Step 3: Inspect the Outlet:
- Plug another device into the outlet to see if it gets power. If not, there could be an issue with the outlet or the circuit.
- Use a multimeter to test the outlet. You should get a reading of around 110-120 volts for standard outlets and 220-240 volts for larger appliances like dryers in the U.S. The values may differ based on your country and its electrical standards.
Step 4: Examine the Circuit Breaker: Check your home’s electrical panel to see if the circuit breaker for the dryer has tripped. If it has, reset it. If the circuit breaker keeps tripping, it could indicate a problem with the dryer itself or an issue with the electrical circuit.
Step 5: Test the Terminal Block:
- The terminal block is where the power cord connects to the dryer’s internal wiring.
- Open the back panel of the dryer and locate the terminal block.
- Using a multimeter, test the connections to ensure they’re transmitting the correct voltage.
- Look for signs of burning or damage. A bad connection here can cause power issues.
Step 6: Inspect Internal Wiring:
- With the dryer unplugged, open it up and inspect the internal wiring.
- Look for any wires that appear burnt, frayed, or disconnected.
- Ensure all connections are secure and that there are no loose wires.
Step 7: Examine the Door Switch:
- The door switch signals the dryer to start when the door is closed. If it’s malfunctioning, it can disrupt the electrical supply.
- Use a multimeter to test the door switch for continuity. If it doesn’t show continuity when activated, it may need to be replaced.
Check The dryer settings:
If your dryer keeps stopping and starting, the issue may be related to the dryer’s settings. Here’s how you can check and potentially fix the settings:
Step 1: Examine the Cycle Selector: Ensure that you’ve chosen the appropriate drying cycle for the type of clothes you’re drying. Some cycles, like “Air Dry” or “Delicate”, might have intermittent stops and starts by design.
Step 2: Check the Timer: If your dryer has a timer dial, ensure it’s set correctly. Sometimes, if it’s stuck between two settings, it can cause the machine to behave erratically.
Step 3: Inspect the Moisture Sensor: Modern dryers often feature moisture sensors that adjust the drying time based on the dampness of the clothes. If you’re using an auto-dry setting, ensure the sensor is clean. Lint or residue buildup on the sensor can affect its accuracy. Wipe the moisture sensor bars gently with a soft cloth and some rubbing alcohol to ensure they’re clean and can function properly.
Step 4: Review Additional Features and Settings: Some dryers come with settings like “Wrinkle Prevent” or “Wrinkle Release”, which may cause the dryer to tumble intermittently after the drying cycle has finished preventing wrinkles. Ensure any such features are intentionally activated and understand how they function to avoid confusion.
Step 5: Reset the Dryer: Some issues can be resolved by resetting the dryer. This can often be done by unplugging the dryer, waiting for a minute or two, and then plugging it back in. Some newer models might have a reset button or a specific procedure for a soft reset, which you can find in the user manual.
Check The Door Switch:
The door switch is a safety feature that prevents the dryer from operating when the door is open. If the switch is faulty, the dryer may think the door is open even when it’s closed or vice versa, causing it to turn on and off erratically. Here’s how to check the door switch:
Step 1: Access the Door Switch: Open the dryer door and locate the door switch. It’s usually found around the perimeter of the door opening and is typically a small plastic piece with a metal prong (or prongs) sticking out.
Step 2: Test the Switch with a Multimeter:
- If you have a multimeter, you can use it to test the door switch for continuity, which will tell you if the switch is functioning electrically.
- Set the multimeter to the continuity setting (or the lowest Ohm setting).
- With the door open, touch one probe to one terminal of the switch and the other probe to the other terminal.
- Press the switch. The multimeter should show a reading (usually close to zero) when the switch is pressed and should show no continuity (often displayed as “1” or “OL” for overload) when the switch is released.
- If the multimeter doesn’t show these results, the switch is likely faulty.
Step 3: Replace the Switch if Necessary:
- If you’ve determined that the door switch is faulty, you’ll need to replace it.
- To do this, you’ll typically need to remove the front panel or the top of the dryer, depending on the model.
- Once accessed, disconnect the wires from the switch (note their placement for reconnection).
- The switch may be held in place with screws or clips. Remove these and replace the switch with a new one.
- Reconnect the wires to the new switch and reassemble the dryer.
Check And Replace The Drum Support Rulers:
The drum support rollers (I assume “rulers” was a typo) are crucial for maintaining the smooth rotation of the dryer drum. Over time, they can wear out or become noisy. If the rollers are damaged, the dryer might make a rumbling or squealing noise during operation. Here’s how to check and replace them:
Step 1: Access the Drum:
- To get to the support rollers, you’ll usually need to remove the front or top panel of the dryer. The process varies by model but often involves removing screws that hold the panel in place.
- Once you have access to the drum, you may need to remove the drum belt and then lift out the drum itself to access the rollers. Remember how everything is positioned for reassembly.
Step 2: Inspect the Rollers:
- With the drum removed, you should be able to see the drum support rollers. They are typically located at the back of the dryer, though some models may also have them at the front.
- Check each roller for signs of wear, damage, or flat spots. Spin each roller by hand. They should turn smoothly without wobbling. If a roller doesn’t spin freely or shows signs of wear, it’s time to replace it.
Step 3: Replace the Rollers:
- Before removing the old rollers, note how they’re attached. Some are held in place with a retainer clip and others might be screwed in.
- Remove the old roller by taking off the retainer clip with pliers or unscrewing it, depending on the design.
- Slide the old roller off the shaft.
- Slide the new roller onto the shaft.
- Secure the new roller in place with the retainer clip or screw.
Step 4: Lubricate the Rollers: Before reassembling, it’s a good idea to apply a few drops of high-temperature grease to the roller shafts to ensure smooth rotation. Do not over-lubricate.
Step 5: Reassemble the Dryer:
- Place the drum back into the dryer, ensuring it sits on the support rollers correctly.
- Reattach the drum belt, ensuring it’s aligned properly and has the right tension.
- Replace the front or top panel and secure it in place with its screws.
Could a dryer’s age be a reason for it to intermittently stop and start?
Yes, older dryers might have worn-out components that can lead to intermittent stopping and starting.
Is there a chance that the exterior door or lint screen light indicators can give hints about the stopping and starting?
Some dryers might have indicator lights or alarms signaling that the door isn’t shut properly or the lint screen is full, which could be associated with its erratic operation.
How much does it cost to repair a dryer that keeps stopping and starting?
The cost of repairing a dryer can vary widely depending on the specific issue and the model of the dryer. Simple fixes like replacing a faulty thermostat or start switch may cost less, while more complex issues involving control boards or motors could be more expensive.
Dryers intermittently stopping and starting can be attributed to a myriad of reasons, from worn-out components in older machines to power fluctuations in the home. Whether it’s a response to an overloaded drum, a glitch in modern digital controls, or the result of environmental factors such as room temperature, identifying the root cause is essential. Furthermore, features designed for convenience, like the “wrinkle prevent,” can sometimes be mistaken for faults. Regular maintenance, awareness of your dryer’s unique features, and professional consultation when in doubt can ensure the longevity and efficient functioning of this indispensable household appliance.