Short answer: When your dryer won’t start, it’s more than an inconvenience. Multiple factors, from power issues to broken switches, might be at fault. Understanding them is key to a swift solution.

For most homeowners, the convenience of a functioning clothes dryer is a daily expectation. It streamlines the laundry process, providing timely and efficient drying, especially during those rainy or winter months. However, like all appliances, dryers are not immune to technical hitches. One of the most disconcerting issues is when the dryer refuses to turn on at all. Understanding the potential causes of this problem is the first step to diagnosing and addressing it. In this discussion, I will discuss the common reasons behind a dryer’s refusal to start, offering insights into both the technical aspects and possible solutions. Whether it’s a power glitch, a broken switch, or a more intricate internal malfunction, this guide aims to shed light on the mysterious world of non-responsive dryers.

Why My Dryer Not Turning On At All?

Checking the inner part
Inspecting wires

If your electric dryer won’t start, here are the top five most probable causes:

Thermal Fuse:

The thermal fuse is a safety device designed to protect the dryer from overheating. Typically, the fuse is located on the blower housing. However, some dryer models have an additional fuse on the heating element. If the dryer overheats, the fuse will blow and cut off the power to the dryer. You can use a multimeter to determine if there is a continuous electrical path present in the part. If not, the fuse has blown and will need to be replaced. Be aware that the failure of the thermal fuse is often caused by the venting system being clogged with lint.

Door Switch:

The dryer won’t start until the door is closed and the door switch is engaged. However, if the switch is defective, the appliance won’t start, even with the door shut. If the door switch tests negative for continuity, it will need to be replaced. If you press the start switch and hear a humming sound, then the switch is not at fault. If there is no sound, then the switch has probably failed. Again, you can use a multimeter to help determine if the switch has continuity.

Start Switch:

If you press the start switch and hear a humming sound, then the switch is not at fault. If there’s no sound, then the switch has likely failed. You can use a multimeter to determine if the switch has continuity.

Drive Motor:

The drive motor operates both the belt and the blower wheel. If there are no obstructions preventing the blower wheel from turning and the motor makes a humming sound, it’s likely that the motor has failed and will need to be replaced.

Belt Switch:

Some dryers have a belt switch that will prevent the dryer from starting if the drive belt is broken. Replace the broken belt with a new one, and your dryer should be ready for use.

Main Control Board:

This is the primary electronic control for the dryer. While it’s rare for this part to be defective, if it fails, the dryer might not start. It can be tested for continuity with a multimeter.

Power Problems:

This encompasses issues with the dryer’s power supply, including blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, and other electrical problems.

Fixing Dryer Not Turning On At All

Inspecting the thermostat
Checking thermostat with a multimeter

Check the Door Switch:

Testing the Start Switch:

  • Access the back of the dryer by removing a few screws to take off the panel.
  • Find the start switch connectors. There might be a locking tab; use the probe of your multimeter to unlock it.
  • Set the multimeter to the continuity setting. When its leads touch each other, you should hear a beep.
  • Touch the multimeter leads to the start switch connections. Press the start button. A beep indicates the start switch is working fine. If there’s no beep, it may be faulty.

Checking the Thermal Fuse:

  • With the back panel off, locate the thermal fuse. It’s typically a white rectangular component near where the hot air exits.
  • Disconnect the leads from the fuse.
  • Still using the continuity setting on your multimeter, test the fuse. A beep confirms it’s functioning. No beep indicates it’s blown and needs replacement.
  • When replacing, it’s suggested to buy in bulk as they’re inexpensive, and having spares can be useful.

Accessing the Main Panel (For Some Dryer Models):

Fixing moan control board
Inspecting the main control board
  • Remove the lint catcher and any screws beneath it.
  • Release the plastic clips on the top of the dryer using a putty knife or paint scraper.
  • Lift the top lid.
  • Unscrew the brackets holding the main panel.
  • Detach all the wires connected to the panel. It’s a good idea to take pictures for reference.
  • Once the screws are fully removed, slide out the main panel to take it off.

Select the correct cycle:

If your dryer isn’t turning on, selecting the correct cycle option might not be the immediate solution. However, if you believe that the issue might be with the selection dial or control panel, here are steps to ensure you’re selecting the correct cycle option:

  1. Consult the Manual: Before anything else, refer to the dryer’s user manual. It will have detailed information on the various cycle options and how to select them correctly.
  2. Ensure Power Supply: Make sure the dryer is plugged in and that the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped. Sometimes, it might appear that the cycle isn’t being selected when in fact, the dryer isn’t receiving power.
  3. Choose the Right Cycle: Based on the load you have (e.g., delicates, heavy-duty, regular), turn the dial or touch the appropriate button on the digital control panels to select the right cycle. Some dryers may have a light or indicator showing which cycle is currently selected.
  4. Listen for a Confirmation Sound: Some modern dryers may beep or make a sound when a cycle is selected correctly.
  5. Check for Digital Display: If your dryer has a digital display, it might show the cycle’s name or duration once it’s correctly selected.
  6. Press Start: Once the desired cycle is selected, firmly press the “Start” button. If the dryer doesn’t turn on, listen for any clicks or sounds that typically indicate the dryer’s door is closed and it’s attempting to start.
  7. Examine the Door: Ensure the dryer door is fully closed. If the door isn’t shut properly, the dryer won’t start as a safety feature. Some dryers may also have a door switch that you can feel click into place when the door is closed properly.
  8. Reset and Retry: Turn the cycle dial back to the “Off” position, wait for a few seconds, and then select your desired cycle again. Sometimes, resetting can help.


Are there brand-specific issues that prevent dryers from starting?

While some brands may have unique design quirks, many dryer start issues are universal across different manufacturers.

How often should I inspect my dryer to ensure consistent operation?

A routine check once every few months can preemptively catch issues. Always consult your dryer’s manual for maintenance tips.

Does the external environment, like high humidity, impact my dryer’s ability to start?

Yes, extreme conditions can affect some components in the dryer, especially if they lead to moisture buildup or rust.

Are there any audible or visual signs I should look out for that indicate my dryer might soon face start-up issues?

Odd noises, longer drying times, or unusual vibrations can hint at upcoming problems, even if the dryer still turns on.

Can frequent overloading impact the dryer’s ability to start?

Overloading can strain the motor and other components, potentially leading to start-up issues over time.

Is there any harm in repeatedly trying to start my dryer when it won’t turn on?

Continuous attempts might exacerbate the underlying issue. If it doesn’t start after a couple of tries, it’s best to diagnose the problem first.


Experiencing a dryer that won’t turn on can be both frustrating and inconvenient. While numerous factors, ranging from simple switch malfunctions to more complex component wear, can be the root cause, it’s essential to approach the issue with a systematic and informed mindset. Regular maintenance and keen observation can preempt many problems, but when faced with a non-starting dryer, understanding potential causes and seeking appropriate solutions whether DIY or professional can ensure the longevity and efficiency of the appliance. The key is to remain proactive, prioritize safety, and recognize when expert intervention is necessary.

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