Dryer Heating but Not Drying? How to Fix It

Fred's Appliance
June 7, 2021
Dryer Repair

Is your dryer heating but not drying? Then you’re in the right place. In this article, we will let you know the main reasons your dryer is heating but not drying and what you can do about them.

Check Your Washing Machine Settings

The first possible cause of your dryer not working properly is actually caused by your washing machine, not your dryer. To make sure your clothes don’t go into your dryer too wet, you need to ensure that you use the correct washing cycle. As a good rule of thumb, you should be putting your clothes into your dryer “damp” but not soaking wet. So, first things first, make sure you are using the right washer cycle that includes sufficient spin time.

Overloading Your Dryer

One of the most common causes of your dryer heating but not drying that you need to rule out is whether or not you are overloading your dryer when using it. Modern dryers are very powerful and highly convenient for people living busy lives, but there is a limit to how much they can dry in one cycle.

Before turning your dryer on to a cycle, make sure that the dryer isn’t overly filled with wet clothes to ensure that your clothes will dry properly.

Dryer Settings

Another common but obvious reason for your dryer heating but not drying is when you don’t have your dryer in the correct settings. To ensure your clothes are drying correctly, you need to make sure that your dryer is set to a hot enough setting. Most modern dryers also have an “automatic dry” option you can use that will make your dryer run until the sensors in the dryer determine that your clothes are dried.

Dryer Vent and Lint Trap

If you notice that your clothes take much longer to dry than they should, you might have a clogged dryer vent or lint trap. When the vent or lint trap gets clogged, hot air cannot circulate correctly around your dryer, and your clothes won’t dry.

Here’s how to check and clean both of these components:

  1. Locate the vent and give it a thorough clean (use a vacuum cleaner if necessary). The vent is located at the back of the dryer and is sometimes attached to a pipe that distributes the air outside of your house. You can usually remove the pipe from the back of the dryer quite easily so you can access the vent.
  2. Locate the lint trap and give it a thorough clean (use a vacuum cleaner if necessary). Depending on the make and model of your dryer, the lint trap is sometimes at the back of the dryer drum or on the front. You should be cleaning out the lint trap after each use of your dryer.
  3. Once you’ve cleaned both components, check to see if the problem has been solved.

Heating Element

Once you’ve tested the simpler causes listed above, there are a couple of components within the dryer that you can test to see if the problem has been caused by them. To do this, you’ll need to use a multimeter device to check the components for continuity.

The first component to check is the heating element. The heating element is how your dryer creates heat, and when it becomes faulty, your dryer might still heat up but not to the required temperature.

Here’s how to check the heating element:

  1. Make sure the power to the dryer is switched off.
  2. Remove the top and side panels, and locate the heating element (consult your manual if necessary).
  3. Once you have located the heating element, use a multimeter to test it for continuity. 
  4. If the test shows no continuity, you need to replace the heating element. If it does have continuity, then it is working correctly.
  5. If you do replace the heating element, you will then need to put your dryer back together and test to see if the problem has been solved. If your dryer still doesn’t work correctly, then move on to checking the next component.


The next component to check in your dryer is the thermostats. Most dryers have multiple thermostats that help keep track of the temperature in your dryer, which they then communicate to the control board to help your dryer operate correctly. The two most common thermostats are a high-limit thermostat and a cycling thermostat.

Thermostats don’t break down very often, but it can happen. Only check the thermostats once you have tried all of the other components that we have listed above.

To check the high-limit thermostat and the cycling thermostat, you need to:

  1. Ensure that the dryer is turned off.
  2. Locate the thermostats (they are two separate components).
  3. Use your multimeter to check both for continuity.
  4. If they both have continuity, then they are working fine and are not the cause of the problem.
  5. If one or both has no continuity when you check them, then they will need to be replaced.
  6. Once replaced, you will need to turn your dryer back on and test if the problem has been solved.
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