Whirlpool Dryer Won't Start? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

Nothing ruins wash day like a broken appliance. Not that wash day is much fun to begin with. But when you have a problem, it just makes it that much worse. You get all your wet clothes into the dryer and turn it on and… nothing happens.

There are many reasons for a dryer to not start. With a Whirlpool dryer, it could be a thermal fuse, operating thermostat, the heating element, the door switch, or motor troubles. It may also be the terminal block, a broken belt, a faulty start switch, or timer malfunction.

With all of these things that can go wrong with a dryer, you may have to go through the whole list before figuring it out. We put them in order of the easiest to the most difficult to help you out.

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Thermal Fuse

Many Whirlpool dryers have issues with the thermal fuse. The thermal fuse is what stops the dryer from working when it is overheating. If the thermal fuse is working properly, it could be that the dryer vent is clogged up.

How to Check and Replace the Thermal Fuse

  • Step One: Access the thermal fuse by unplugging the dryer and taking off the back.
  • Step Two: You should see the fuse on the left-hand side of the bottom of the dryer. It is white and has two wires running to it.
  • Step Three: Unplug the two wires and check them with an ohmmeter.
  • Step Four: If there is no continuity between them, you need to replace the fuse.
  • Step Five: Use a nut driver to remove the mounting screw that is holding the fuse to the dryer. Remove the fuse.
  • Step Six: Insert the new fuse by putting it into the dryer and replacing the screw.
  • Step Seven: Reconnect the wires and put them back on the dryer before plugging it back in.

Operating Thermostat

If the fuse blows again right away, you need to check the operating thermostat. The thermostat is what controls the temperature of your dryer. If it sticks in the closed position, the temperature will rise and that will cause the thermal fuse to blow.

Changing the Thermostat

  • Step One: Unplug the dryer and remove the back panel.
  • Step Two: The thermostat should be near the bottom of the dryer under the thermal fuse and above the dryer vent opening.
  • Step Three: Pull the jumper wire that leads from the heating element to the thermostat and remove the upper wire that goes from the thermostat to the wiring harness.
  • Step Four: Remove the hex screws and take off the thermostat. Replace it with the new thermostat and secure it with the hex screws.
  • Step Five: Replace the wires to the thermostat and replace the back panel and plug the dryer back in.

The Heating Element

Your dryer’s heating element, which is just a loop of wire, can sometimes warp and make contact with the heater can, causing it to stay hot even if the dryer is not on. This causes the thermal fuse to blow too. You need to check the element to see if it is grounded out.

Checking and Replacing the Heating Element

  • Step One: Unplug the dryer and remove the back panel.
  • Step Two: Disconnect the wires from the element and test them with the ohmmeter.
  • Step Three: If you have power from either of the terminals to the heater can, the element is grounded and needs to be changed.
  • Step Four: Replace the heating element with a new one and wire it back up the way the other one was. Make sure it is not touching the heater can.
  • Step Five: Put the back panel on and plug the dryer back in.

Door Switch

The purpose of the door switch is to stop the dryer from running whenever someone opens the dryer door. If it is malfunctioning, it may be causing the dryer to not start. You need to check it and, if needed, replace the switch.

Checking and Replacing the Door Switch

  • Step One: Unplug your dryer and remove the filter and take out the screws underneath.
  • Step Two: Pull the top of the dryer forward a bit and lift up on it. The cover should lift off so you can get to the door switch.
  • Step Three: Make sure you close the door and disconnect the wires to the door switch.
  • Step Four: Test the spark between the wires with an ohmmeter. If there is no continuity, you need to replace the switch.
  • Step Five: Just remove it and replace it with a new one. Hook the wires back up and replace the top, replace the screws and vent, then plug the dryer back in.

Bad Motor

If your motor is bad, it will just hum when you turn on the dryer and then shut off. It is best to turn to a professional for that kind of repair.

The Terminal Block

The terminal block is under your dryer’s rear access panel. This is what connects the dryer’s internal wires with the power cord that goes into the wall. If this is damaged, it may be causing the dryer not to start. However, it usually trips a breaker as well so if your breaker trips when you turn on the dryer, you may need to replace the terminal block.

Replacing the Terminal Block

  • Step One: Remove the screws holding the power cord to the dryer.
  • Step Two: Remove the screws and take the terminal block out of the dryer.
  • Step Three: Push down on the tabs to remove the wires from the block. Remove the terminal nuts.

Important Tip: Take a picture of the wires so you know how to hook them back up.

  • Step Four: Attach the terminal nuts to the new terminal block.
  • Step Five: Use your photos to replace the wires correctly.
  • Step Six: Reattach the terminal block to the dryer.
  • Step Seven: Put the access panel back on and plug the dryer back in.

Broken Belt

It is easy to tell if you have a broken belt. If the drum does not turn but the motor runs, you need a new belt. You can do this yourself pretty easily.

Replacing a Belt

  • Step One: Unplug the dryer and take off the screws under the lint filter.
  • Step Two: Lift forward and pull up to remove the top of the dryer. Remove the two screws holding the case to the front.
  • Step Three: Take off the front of the dryer and place it to the side.
  • Step Four: Remove the belt and replace it.
  • Step Five: Replace the front, the case, and the top of the dryer.
  • Step Six: Put the lint filter back and plug the dryer back in.

Start Switch

Your dryer’s start switch on the front of the dryer is what starts the dryer running when you press on it. When you press it, the switch makes contact with a circuit to the motor to start it running. Then the dryer’s centrifugal switch takes over to keep the dryer running. It is rare for this to malfunction, but it can happen.

Testing and Replacing the Start Switch

  • Step One: Unplug the dryer.
  • Step Two: Take off the back panel.
  • Step Three: Find the small black box that is the start switch.
  • Step Four: Disconnect the two wires and test them with an ohmmeter.
  • Step Five: If there is no power, replace the switch and hook the wires back up.
  • Step Six: Replace the back panel and plug the dryer back in.

Timer Malfunction

A timer malfunction is also rare, but it is possible. Testing and replacing the timer varies depending on the model of the Whirlpool dryer you have. But the basics are the same.

Testing and Replacing the Timer

  • Step One: Unplug the dryer and remove the front panel.
  • Step Two: Disconnect and check the wires with the ohmmeter.
  • Step Three: If they do not have a spark, replace the timer.
  • Step Four: Reconnect the wires to the timer.
  • Step Five: Put the front panel back on and plug the dryer back in.

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Related Questions

How Can I Clear Out My Dryer Vent?

The most common place that dryer vents get clogged is the tube from the unit to the wall. The best way to do this is to take it off and clean it out.

  • Step One: Unplug the dryer.
  • Step Two: Remove the vent from the back of the dryer and use your hand to reach as far as you can to remove what is in there.
  • Step Three: If you cannot get all the way to the wall, use a synthetic brush attached to a rod to clean it out.
  • Step Four: You should also check the vent outside the house to make sure it is clear.
  • Step Five: Check the lint trap and fan for lint as well before plugging it back in.
What if the Dryer Turns on but is Not Getting Hot?

If your dryer turns on and runs but does not get hot, it may be a circuit breaker or fuse. Check your circuit breaker in your breaker box. This is usually found in your basement but may also be in a garage or closet.

Check to see if any of the circuits are in the off position or in the middle between the on and off positions. Switch the breaker off and then back on again. If this does not work, it may be a thermal fuse, thermostat, or heating element. The instructions to check and replace them are included above.

Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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