Dryer Not Getting Hot Enough? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

The appliances in our home make life easier. Even if you don’t use them on a daily basis, things like the washer and dryer can keep life from getting hectic. So, when the dryer will no longer do its job by heating up, it can leave us with a major problem.

When it comes to reasons why your dryer isn’t heating up, there are several reasons. It can be a lack of proper voltage supply, clogged, lint screen, blocked venting, a bad heating element, a thermal fuse, the timer motor, and the thermostat.

You may have to go through the process of checking each of these in order to find the problem.

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Blocked Venting

The most common reason for a dryer failing to get hot enough is blocked venting. If you think that the vent could be the culprit behind the problem, start a timed dry on the highest heat setting.

While it is running, go outside to the exhaust vent and use your hand to make sure that the air is not only quite warm, but exiting the home at a decent rate.

If you feel either cooler air or not much coming out of the vent, you likely need the venting cleaned out or replaced entirely. When the air coming out is cooler, there could be an operational issue within the dryer itself.

Lint Screen Clogged

Did you know that lint buildup in the dryer is the number one cause of household fires? Given that lint can reduce airflow and overheat, eventually catching on fire, that reduced airflow can prevent proper airflow through the dryer.

You can start the troubleshooting process by removing as much of the lint as you can and then soaking the screen in some hot water and liquid dish soap. If the buildup is particularly bad, consider using a soft toothbrush to get the really tough spots out.

You want the lint screen to be as cleaned as possible. If the problem persists after cleaning the lint screen, you can move on to troubleshooting some of the other areas.

Timer Motor

If your dryer isn’t heating up enough, it could be due to a defective timer motor. The purpose of the timer motor is to control the cycles of the dryer. This is done by regulating the amount of time that the power will go to each component.

Start by locating the timer motor inside of the timer assembly; this is generally behind the control console panel. Depending on the model, you may be able to simply remove a few screws or the entire rear panel that sits behind the control panel.

Carefully remove the wires and test each of them with your ohmmeter. If you have a schematic for the dryer, even better, because then you can compare. A normal reading for the vast majority of dryers is between 2000 and 3000 ohms.

If the motor is bad, try simply replacing the motor instead of the whole assembly.

Thermal Fuse

The thermal fuse could also be responsible for your dryer not heating up. Testing it is very similar to testing a dryer’s thermostat.

Start by opening up the dryer cabinet; this is where the thermal fuse is located. Remove the wires connecting the thermal fuse. Pull on the connectors, not the wiring. Having a good pair of pliers can make the entire process a bit easier.

Break out your multimeter and touch each of the probes to a terminal of the thermal fuse. You’re looking for a reading of zero or infinity. At room temperature, you will likely get a zero reading. It is highly recommended that you test your thermal fuse at room temperature.

If your thermal fuse has gone bad, you will need to replace it because it is blown. Simply remove the old fuse and replace it with a new one before reassembly the dryer and restoring power to it. Whenever putting a new part in, run through a dryer cycle to ensure that it is working the way you expect it to.

Inadequate or No Gas or Electric Supply

Another possible cause for a dryer not getting hot enough is improper, or lack of, electrical or gas supply. Electric dryers are powered from a 240-volt delivered by two 120-volt lines. Even if just one of the electrical lines is malfunctioning, your dryer will still run but it won’t heat up.

When it comes to gas powered dryers, if your gas is shut off, the dryer will not heat. Whether you have an electric or gas dryer, this particular issue should be evaluated by a certified professional.

Gas Control Valve

If your gas dryer isn’t producing ample amount of heat, the issue may lie with the gas valve found in the burner system. The gas control valve is designed to receive power from the circuit of the flame sensor and igniter, which will then power the coils of the valve, causing it to open.

At this point, gas is distributed into the burner, it ignites, and the dryer heats. If, for whatever reason, the circuit gets interrupted, the igniter will glow initially but then extinguish before the flame forms. Or, the valve may function to start the heater, but then stop operating before the clothes are completely dry.


The dryer actually makes use of a couple of different thermostats to regulate the internal temperature of the dryer. When the cycle is selected, the corresponding thermostat is chosen. Generally speaking, a cycling thermostat can be found inside of the exhaust or venting system or on the blower wheel housing.

Dryer thermostats are shaped like an oval and are relatively small at just an inch and a half long. You will also notice two wires that lead to each thermostat; label them so that you can properly connect them later on.

Use your multimeter to look for the aforementioned zero or infinity reading. If you don’t get a zero or infinity reading, your thermostat component should be replaced.

Improper Voltage

If the dryer isn’t properly heating, there’s a chance that there isn’t a proper supply of voltage being fed into it. There are three different ways to check that your dryer is receiving the proper voltage levels.

  • The first is to check to make sure the unit is plugged in. It sounds simple but this happens far more than you would think.
  • The second is to check your circuit breaker. Sometimes the breaker can get flipped off and cut power to that section of the house.
  • Lastly, make sure that none of the fuses in your fuse panel have been blown.

Starting with voltage levels can be the easiest method. This is because it doesn’t require any disassembly of the dryer itself and all three options can be checked off in just a few minutes. If none of those solve your issue, you can then begin checking the components of the dryer instead.

Heating Element

Unlike some of the other components of a dryer, the heating element is irreparable if it is damaged or not functioning properly. Some other components you can fix and re-use; the heating element cannot be fixed.

Open up the dryer’s cabinet, locate the heating element, and test it. If it doesn’t work properly, you’ll have to replace it.

Opening Up the Dryer Cabinet

Dryers come in a wide array of sizes and manufacturers. Heck, opening a cabinet can differ between manufacturer models.

To find out how to open the cabinet of your dryer, you’ll need the service manual for the machine or to find your corresponding machine instructions online.

While YouTube videos can certainly be helpful, always lean towards manufacturer instructions first and foremost. These are the most accurate instructions that you can get and will lead to a safer removal of the dryer cabinet.

When you have the cabinet open, you can then begin to assess the various issues that could lead to your dryer malfunctioning.

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Other Problems That Can Lead to Clothes Not Drying

It is certainly possible that the dryer is working normally but your clothes aren’t getting completely dry. This may not necessarily be indicative of a fault with the dryer, but instead some issues with the load you put in or the washing machine.

When loads are uneven, it can present a problem for the dryer. You always want to keep similar items together to get the proper performance out of both your washer and dryer.

If you put towels and sheets in with regular clothes, it may take the larger items time to dry. Not only that, but it can also actually lower the heat on your dryer if you have it set to auto dry.

Watch your loads when loading the dryer. The more even the items of clothing are, the more likely it is to get a total drying experience.

There is also a possibility that the washer left the clothes wetter than usual. The most common culprit in this instance is an imbalanced load that prevents a proper spin cycle. When the clothes can’t properly spin, the excess water will remain in the clothing instead of being drained out.

Make sure that you have balanced loads in both the washer and the dryer. This is the only certain way to ensure that your clothes spin properly and thus dry properly when they make it to the dryer.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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