Dryer Spins But There Is No Heat? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Doing the laundry is not a fun endeavor but technology has made it a lot easier than it used to be. Keeping the laundry going, you can take care of all the clothes for a family of four in a matter of hours. Talk about convenience.

But from time to time, you may experience issues with your dryer. The barrel still spins but the dryer is not heating up and drying the clothes. The most common reasons for this are relatively simple. It could be that a vent is clogged or the lint screen is full. It is also possible that the clothes did not properly spin in the washer, leaving them too wet and heavy for the dryer.

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Why is My Dryer Not Heating Despite Still Spinning?

Typically speaking, there are five reasons that could result in the dryer spinning but not heating properly. Troubleshooting the issue is fairly quick as most of the issues are fairly simple and fixed easily and in short order.

Should you find yourself in a position where you are not quite sure what the issue is, calling a professional is a fine option. They have the knowledge and experience to properly troubleshoot the issue, finding the problem, and implementing a quick fix. It is a great way to not only save time and frustration, but money as well.

Lint Screen is Clogged

Emptying out the lint screen is one of the most important aspects of using a dryer. You should be emptying the lint screen before each use. This is partially to prevent buildups of lint and dust, but it is for safety reasons as well.

Clogged dryer lint traps are one of the leading causes of household fires. While it is easy to simply be lazy and start the next load, take the extra 30 seconds and empty the lint screen. Even if there is only a little in there, it is the smart move.

Not only will emptying following every use ensure your lint screen doesn’t get clogged, but it will also ensure that no fires start due to your dryer. As for the heating issue, clogged lint screens restrict air flow. Poor air flow means that it takes longer and longer for your clothes to dry. Empty that lint screen before using the dryer.

Dryer Vent Damaged or Clogged

In a similar vein, you will have trouble getting your dryer to heat up if there are issues with the venting. The easiest way to check to see if your vent is damaged is to start a timed dry, setting it to high heat. Go outside and find the exhaust vent. Hold your hand over the vent to determine how much air flow there is.

If you can faintly notice air flow, then your vent is blocked up or damaged. You should be noticing air flow at a decent rate and at a warmer temperature. Cleaning out your vents is the best place to start, though if there is noticeable damage, you may have to have them replaced.

One other thing to consider is the temperature itself. Should air flow be fine but the temperature of the air is lower than expected, it could be some sort of operational issue with the dryer itself. Rule out the vents as a problem before moving on to that potential solution.

Uneven Loads

Our washing machine and dryer are meant to make laundry faster and more convenient. That said, they do have their limits. Much like you would not want to overload the washing machine, you want to avoid the same for your dryer.

Finding balance while drying is important. You want to avoid mixing small and large items together. It can create an imbalance within the dryer, which can hinder the ability of the machine, especially on the auto dry setting.

Putting heavy items together in loads that are too large is also problematic. Putting sheets and towels together will result in the dryer heating at a lower level. In some cases, it may shut off entirely. Try to keep your clothing separated by sizes that make sense and give your dryer a better chance of applying even heating.

Electrical Issue

There is a bit of a misconception when it comes to the power supply to your dryer. The thought is that, should there be any electrical issue, the dryer won’t work at all. That is incorrect and you may be dealing with an electrical issue.

There are generally a pair of 120-volt lines that come standard on a dryer. When one of the lines is not working properly, then the dryer will run but won’t properly heat up. On the same hand, if you have a gas dryer, make sure that the gas is on. If these lines are found to be at fault, it is highly advised that a professional technician review the issue.

Don’t assume that just because your dryer is getting power that it is getting all the power it needs. Maybe the cylinder will spin as if it were a normal cycle but the unit cannot heat up as it normally would. This is why troubleshooting the issue can be so invaluable.

Clothes Too Wet

We are focused on issues with the dryer, but what if the dryer actually isn’t at fault? Before your clothing ever hits the dryer, it goes into the washing machine. There the clothes are soaked, rinsed, and then eventually spun at high speeds. Doing so means essentially using gravity to squeeze the excess water out of your clothes.

If the spin cycle fails to initiate or does not do its job, then your clothes will not be dry enough to go into the dryer. You can’t simply take soaked clothing and throw it into the dryer. You will be making your dryer work all the harder for your clothes to remain soaked.

Should you notice that your clothes are coming out of the washing machine much wetter and heavier than normal, troubleshoot the washer. A washing machine not draining completely carries its own set of issues that need to be resolved.

Heating Element

Perhaps you have gotten through troubleshooting all of the above potential issues and still have no heat. Should you get this far, it is more than likely that an internal component is either damaged or completely non-functional.

The heating element is the most likely cause of no heat in your dryer. It can break or even become grounded to the chassis. Test this out by running your dryer on either no heat or air fluff and make sure that there is no heat coming out. Notice heat? Then it may be that the cycling thermostat or high-limit thermostat is bad.

Whether it be the heating element, the cycling thermostat, or the high-limit thermostat, you want to get the issue resolved sooner rather than later. When the thermostat is bad, it means that the dryer can overheat. When a dryer overheats, it isn’t safe, can potentially ruin your clothes, and is super inefficient.

Maintenance is Key

We are looking at the various issues behind why your dryer isn’t properly heating up. But what if we could take steps to ensure that these situations never came to be in the first place? The important thing to remember is that proper maintenance is required no matter the appliance.

Make sure that you are performing basic maintenance. That means cleaning out your lint tray. It means cleaning out the drum so that there is no excess dirt or dust trapped inside. And it means having your vents cleaned once or twice per year.

The latter is particularly important. You can try to do the job yourself but a professional will ensure that any dust and dirt is removed from the system. They will ensure that your vents are clean and free of debris before your next use.

Finally, a maintenance checkup can deal with lint that gets built up in your dryer. When you pop off the cover and really get into the nitty gritty, it may shock you just how much dirt and dust there is trapped underneath. These are just as likely to start a fire as your lint tray. Head-to-toe maintenance is the best way to go.

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Final Thoughts

The good news is that, most of the time, the fix is a simple one. Your dryer failing to heat is mostly because something is clogged up somewhere. Do your dryer a favor and prevent fire hazard by emptying your lint tray and having the vents cleaned out on a regular basis.

Should you find that it is an electrical or component issue, a technician is advisable. They not only have the knowledge and tools to get the job done, but they can do so in a much shorter period of time. It may be worth the cost of repair to ensure that the right fix is done and that your dryer will function normally again going forward.

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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