Fix a dryer that heats but won’t dry

Last Updated on September 10, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

So the dryer stopped drying a few days ago. The dryer is relatively new; I think we got it about 18 months ago to replace a dryer a friend gave me. That was a little early, given my old dryer lasted so long. I learned how to fix a dryer that heats but won’t dry.

That old dryer, by the way, was a Whirlpool that looked like it probably could remember Ronald Reagan, and maybe even Jimmy Carter. So it seemed a little odd for this new dryer (a rebadged Whirlpool from a local scratch-and-dent dealer) to develop an old-age disease this quickly.

Fix a dryer that heats but won't dry
If your dryer gets hot but won’t dry clothes, check the vent outside and check the conduit, which is the piece going out the window just to the left of the dryer in this picture. One or the other is probably clogged.

The problem turned out to be my dryer vent. When I looked outside, I had a clog, and it was so bad I didn’t even have to go outside to see it. Dryers rely on airflow to get the job done, and that lint bunny looked nearly airtight.

I had a cage on my vent because of a different problem. A few months before, I noticed animals had been getting into my dryer vent. The telltale sign was when I went downstairs and caught what looked like an open window out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t an open window; it was my dryer vent. I bought a cage to put over it because it was easier and cheaper than replacing the vent cover. What I didn’t realize was that fixing one problem created another.

If the vent seems OK, take the conduit off and clean it out. There may be something stuck in the conduit before the vent.

So I took off the cage, cleaned out the vent with an appliance cleaning brush, and now the dryer works again.

So if you have a dryer that heats but won’t dry, always check the dryer vent first. For that matter, check the dryer vent at least once a year whether your dryer works or not.

If the problem isn’t the vent, here are some other dryer repairs you can usually do yourself. And failing that, here’s how I buy dryers cheaply.

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