There’s nothing more infuriating than sticking a load of damp washing in the dryer, selecting a cycle, and pressing go, only for nothing to happen.
A load of manic button pressing ensues. Followed by a few curses. And the inevitable screech upstairs to inform everyone that the dryer has died! Eventually, we settle down and try to assess the situation rationally. And that’s when we ask the fountain of knowledge for help.
So, why do tumble dryers refuse to turn on? And how do you solve the problem? Find out below.
Why Isn’t My Tumble Dryer Switching On?
Cause 1: Check the power source
Often, a tumble dryer won’t turn on because it doesn’t have power running to it. Take note of the following:
Make sure your home has electricity
Checking that your home has electricity might seem a bit daft. But when electric goods don’t work as they should, a power outage in the area is often to blame.
Go around your house checking that the lights and other electronic goods are working. If they aren’t, there could be a massive power outage near you, which is why the tumble dryer isn’t working. It’s probably nothing too serious, and the power will come back on in a short while.
Make sure the dryer is plugged into the socket correctly
If you’ve got power at home, your next step is to ensure your tumble dryer is plugged into the socket correctly.
A little nudge here and there to the machine and the plug can come out of the wall. It’s not uncommon and happens with time!
Ensure the plug is secure in the socket.
Ensure the switch is in the ‘On’ position
Again, it might be fairly obvious, but make sure you’ve switched the socket ‘On’.
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve thought there was a power outage in the local area, only to realise that I hadn’t put the switch on! It’s an easy mistake to make when doing things on autopilot.
Test the socket with another appliance to see if the outlet is working correctly
In addition, make sure that the electricity socket is working. There could be a minor fault in the socket itself, and it’s not releasing power to the machine.
Grab another tool that needs electricity, like a hairdryer or phone charger, plug it into the socket and see if it turns on. If there isn’t any power going to the tool, you know there’s something wrong with the socket! You can call an electrician to sort this out for you.
Check the fuse
The fuse may have blown in the tumble dryer’s plug. In turn, the machine won’t work properly. F this is the case, replace the fuse in the plug.
Make sure the breaker box hasn’t blown
Look at all the switches in the breaker box and make sure none have moved from the ‘On’ position to the ‘Off’ position.
Move the switches to their former positions and see if the tumble dryer works. The power should be restored to the circuit.
Ensure the dryer’s cable is still intact, and there are no rips
Again, another obvious cause, but one that’s regularly overlooked, is to check the cable that runs from the tumble dryer and into the socket. The cable should be in one piece, and no wires should be on display.
If you see cracks in the cable’s outer casing or exposed copper wires, the machine might not fire up due to electrical interference.
You could repair the exposed wires by wrapping them in electrical tape. However, it would be worth asking an engineer to sort the issue out. They can also explain why your wire was damaged in the first place and how to prevent it from happening.
If you have a gas dryer, ensure there’s a gas supply going to the machine
Gas dryers are less common in the UK. However, if there’s a problem with the gas supply going into your dryer, the machine might not start up as a safety mechanism.
If you have a gas dryer at home, you should check the gas supply and get any issues you see/smell fixed. A gas dryer should be inspected yearly anyway.
Cause 2: Check the tumble dryer’s door is shut correctly
Tumble dryer doors come with unique locking mechanisms that tell the dryer that it’s safe to start a cycle because the door is closed correctly.
Occasionally, these parts play up and can cause the machine to malfunction. Take note of the following:
Ensure there are no obstructions
Obstructions can stop a dryer door from closing. As a safety precaution, the tumble dryer will not start.
Check that there are no objects around the door and remove them.
The door-locking mechanism may have stopped working
If the locking mechanism is faulty, the lock won’t signal the machine to say that it’s safe to start a cycle. Instead, nothing will happen, and it’ll appear as if the dryer isn’t working at all.
It is possible to replace the locking mechanism on some tumble dryers. However, ensure you order the correct part and fit it following the instructions in the user manual.
Cause 3: User error could be to blame
A tumble dryer often won’t turn on because of a human error(s). Take note of the following:
You haven’t selected a program
The machine won’t work effectively if you don’t turn the dial or select a program on the control panel. In some cases, it may not even turn on because the act of turning a dial is what activates the dryer! Select your cycle and then press ‘Start’.
You have selected a ‘Delay’ program instead
Sometimes, you knock the wrong button when choosing a cycle and press ‘Delay’ instead. It’s a common mistake to make and one that can make you think that the tumble dryer isn’t working effectively.
Be mindful of what cycles you select. Always double-check your selection so you know that the machine is doing exactly what you asked it to do.
You haven’t pressed the start button correctly on the dryer
If you’re in a rush to get the drying done, you might stick your clothes in the machine and gently tap the ‘Start’ button. In the process, the machine doesn’t register you’ve clicked ‘Start’ because you didn’t press with enough pressure, so it doesn’t turn on.
Interestingly, if you click ‘Start’ on some tumble dryers, like modern ones, with wet hands, the machine doesn’t always register your action. Consequently, the machine won’t start.
Make sure you press the ‘Start’ button correctly. Take your time; don’t rush. And wipe your hands before you click any buttons.
You haven’t emptied the water tank on your tumble dryer
As mentioned, if you’re in a hurry, you may forget to empty the water tank on your tumble dryer (if you’ve got one). A full dryer tank can impact how the machine works. And if you’ve got a sensitive tumble dryer, it might not even turn on if the tank is full.
Empty the water tank after every use. And check that the water tank is empty before every use. A light on the control panel usually lights up to tell you that the water tank is full and needs to be emptied. Although, you can empty the tank well before this light appears!
You’ve ignored the dryer’s warning signs
Many modern tumble dryers have an LED panel that tells you what cycle you’ve picked and how long the cycle will last. There will also be other lights/warning codes on the control panel that tell you that the water tank is full or that there’s something wrong with the machine.
If you ignore these signs, your machine might not switch on.
Check the control panel on your tumble dryer and pay attention to flashing warning lights/codes. These signals are there for a reason, so make sure you take note of them and carry out any actions that may be required. (Read your user manual to find out what a code means).
Cause 4: There might be a faulty ‘Start’ switch on the tumble dryer
You’d expect ‘Start’ buttons to withstand a lot of pressing over the years. But this isn’t always the case. Occasionally, the ‘Start’ switch malfunctions and instead of telling the tumble dryer to fire up, it doesn’t do anything.
Assess the situation by pressing the ‘Start’ switch. If you don’t hear any noise and there’s no humming sound coming from the machine, assume that the switch needs fixing. Call an engineer out.
Cause 5: ‘Child lock’ might’ve been enabled, so you can’t operate the dryer
If you’ve engaged the ‘Child lock’ action, you may not be able to operate your tumble dryer and start it up. The ‘Child lock’ feature, as its name suggests, has been designed to stop kids from pressing the buttons on the machine when it is idle and in operation.
If ‘Child lock’ has been activated, your dryer is behaving as it should – stopping people from pressing buttons and starting cycles!
Turn off the ‘Child lock’ mode and use your machine as normal. If you’re not sure how to deactivate ‘Child lock’, see your user manual and follow the instructions.
Cause 6: There’s an issue with the dryer’s control panel
If the control panel is damaged or broken, it won’t send the right signals to the parts inside your dryer to tell them to start working.
Consequently, parts like the motor and timer won’t work effectively, and your machine may not turn on at all.
Try resetting the machine first – see the instructions in the user manual on this. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to call an engineer to look at the control panel to determine what is wrong with it and how best to fix it.
The control panel can be quite an intricate part to repair, and it would be good to get a professional’s opinion on the problem.
Cause 7: A problem has occurred with the tumble’s timer
The timer in your tumble dryer ensures that all the parts within your machine work together to dry your laundry effectively.
Without a working timer, cycles are overly long/too short, and you don’t always end up with dry laundry at the end of a cycle. A broken timer can also stop a dryer from working completely!
Reset the timer to see if it works. Or try cleaning the sensors in the dryer. The sensors sense how damp/dry the laundry is in the drum and adjust the drying time accordingly.
If the sensors are dirty, the tumble dryer won’t dry your laundry for an appropriate amount of time. Or call an engineer for advice.
Cause 8: The thermostat or thermal fuse may have broken
The thermostat in your tumble dryer regulates the temperature inside the machine.
When the thermostat is faulty, it can overheat and cause damage to your machine and the laundry inside the drum. And the opposite can happen. The clothes will go around in the drum but won’t be dried because there’s a lack of heat.
The thermal fuse, on the other hand, ensures that the machine doesn’t overheat. If the machine does overheat, the fuse will blow, and the tumble dryer will stop working.
If these parts fail, the dryer won’t operate effectively as a protective mechanism.
Replace both parts to make your tumble dryer work again. You usually need to call an engineer out.
Cause 9: The motor or belt may have stopped working
The motor and belt ensure that the tumble dryer turns and functions effectively. Without these two parts, a dryer will malfunction and may not even turn on.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to call an engineer out and get them to inspect the problem. They will either replace the parts or advise you otherwise.
For future reference, if you suspect this is the problem, listen out for funny noises coming from the machine – this is a telltale sign that there’s trouble on the way.
Cause 10: There’s corrosion around the dryer’s terminal block
Rust and water damage at the back of the machine can cause the machine to stop working.
Look at the terminal block, usually located at the back of a tumble dryer. Assess what damage, if any, is present.
If you see burn marks and damaged wiring, call an engineer. An engineer will assess the damage and discuss your options with you.
A Recap of Common Solutions
- Check the troubleshooting section in your user guidebook and find the cause of the problem. Then, follow the instructions in the manual to sort the issue out. If you don’t have your book, you can find a downloadable PDF on the manufacturer’s website.
- Run tests on individual parts to see if they work. For example, use a multimeter to test electricity-related issues.
- If you can’t find the problem listed in the manual, look on forums for more advice on your issue and find out how to solve it.
- If possible, try to reset your machine to turn off any ‘Child lock’ or ‘Delayed starts’ that could be hindering how the machine is functioning. You can learn how to rest your machine by reading your user handbook.
- Call an engineer out. If you’re covered by a warranty, the manufacturer may send someone out to assess the machine. Or you could call a local professional to see what’s wrong with the tumble dryer.
- Check for warning lights on your tumble dryer. The machine might be trying to tell you that there’s a problem. If you’re unsure what the light indicates, grab your user manual and read up on the problem. The issue could be easily fixed, and your dryer will be back on in no time.
- You can fix minor issues yourself, like problems relating to human error(s), power, and not shutting the door correctly. However, an engineer will have to repair more technical issues like a damaged thermostat, broken motor and corrosion on the terminal block.
- In general, you will either be able to fix your tumble dryer for free (by resetting it/doing minor repairs), buy new parts for the dryer and repair it (yourself/engineer) or if the dryer is in a bad way, you may have to get it replaced.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!