Why Is The Dryer Blowing Cold Air?

why is the dryer blowing cold air

There’s no doubting that household appliances make our lives much easier. They help turn our to-do lists that in the past would consume much of the day into much more manageable tasks. However, it’s not uncommon for them to come with their own set of setbacks and complications.

If your dryer is not heating up properly and blowing out cold air, this could be due to a number of problems. However, when your dryer decides to blow out cold air instead of hot, most often it’s because it has overheated.

Troubleshooting and repairing a dryer that is blowing out cold air may be difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with the unit. Although it can be expensive to call out an engineer to fix the problem, you may decide that is the best route.

Regardless, we’ll outline the possible reasons for why your dryer is blowing cold air and the necessary steps to troubleshoot and fix the problem.

Ruling Out The Simple Causes

Although uncommon, the reason why your dryer may not be heating up could be due to a partially tripped circuit breaker. In this case, one of the hot legs trips open, and the other stays closed.

To operate properly, your dryer needs 240 volts and both hot legs. However, your dryer motor can function on only 120 volts so it continues to operate while the dryer’s heating element does not.

Before you consider taking apart the dryer, see if resetting the circuit breaker fixes the problem. If you have a gas dryer, you need to make sure that the gas to the dryer remains on while you are troubleshooting the dryer.

Overheated Dryer

One of the most common reasons why tumble dryers start to blow out cold air instead of hot, is because it has overheated. This may seem ironic but dryer manufacturers are legally required that the dryer has some sort of way to prevent it from catching fire when it becomes too hot. In this case, thermal overload cut-out comes in and stops your dryer from working before it gets too hot.

Depending on your particular dryer model, an issue like this may be an easy fix. Some of them simply have reset buttons on the back, hold down the button long enough for a clicking noise to sound. However, if your dryer does not come with a reset button you might have to replace the overload cut-out (TOC) and thermostat.

What Causes a Dryer to Overheat?

If you’ve determined that an overheated dryer may be the reason for it blowing cold air, it’s important you understand what directly caused this for future prevention. Here are some of the various reasons why a dryer might overheat:

  • You opened the door in the middle of a cycle or too soon after a load completed. Once the dryer has completed a spin, they need to go through a cool down period. It’s important that you allow this to finish before attempting to open the door. Not leaving your dryer for a few minutes after the cycle can trip the TOC. The same goes for opening the door mid-cycle. Instead, rely on the timer to tell you when it’s safe to retrieve your clothes from the dryer.
  • The filter has not been cleaned frequently. Not cleaning the filter after each use causes a buildup of dust and blocks the air flow within the system. In order to keep temperatures down during cycles, the air flow draws in cool air. Blockages caused by a dirty filter will not only cause the dryer to overheat, it’s also a fire hazard. In this case, if you have a reset button, this is an easy fix. If not, you’ll have to replace the heating elements in order to get your dryer functioning again.
  • You’ve overloaded the dryer. Placing too much into your dryer during a load will also block air flow, causing the temperature to rise and result in overheating. You’ll often find the maximum capacity for your particular dryer in the user manual or on the inside lid of the dryer itself. However, the general rule of thumb is to not fill the drum more than half full. Most people assume that overloading the dryer will help save on electricity. However, this is not the case because it actually causes the drum to work twice as hard, using up more electricity. 

What is the purpose of the TOC and thermostat?

The thermal overload cut-out, or TOC, is a device that helps prevent your dryer from overheating. If the temperatures within your dryer become too hot, the circuit will get tripped and stop the dryer from heating properly.

On the other hand, the thermostat monitors the temperature in the dryer. Both of these devices work together to help prevent overheating. The thermostat is connected to a heating element that controls and opens the circuit.

As it’s doing this, it’s raising the temperature and then cooling it down when necessary. When the heating element becomes too hot, the thermostat will close the circuit and attempt to cool down the system.

In some cases, the dryer can be reset and this will fix the issues with the thermostat and TOC. However, more commonly, both of them may have to be replaced entirely.

Replacing the Thermostat and TOC

To verify that both the TOC and thermostat have failed, you’ll want to check whether or not there is a circuit between them. You can do this by using a continuity test meter. If no circuit is present, this is confirmation that the TOC has tripped.

Once you’ve verified that this is the reason for your dryer blowing cold air, unplug your appliance and locate the thermostat. You’ll find the thermostat underneath the back panel of your dryer. Remove the back of the dryer to access it easily.

You’ll be able to recognize both the TOC and thermostat by their small round, bottle top like appearance. They will also be screwed down to the machine and have wires attached to them. Engage in the following steps to replace both the thermostat and TOC:

  • Dislodge the wires from the TOC and thermostat
  • Unscrew the faulty devices
  • Using your replacement TOC and thermostat, screw them in place of the old parts
  • Locate the metal arms on either side of the components.
  • Attach the wires you dislodged to the metal arms. This step is essential as these wires serve as the connection to the heating element.
  • Close up the back of your dryer

It’s as easy as that! Keep in mind that while most TOCs can be found under the dryer’s back panel, depending on your particular model, it may be located in the front. If this is the case, these can be rather difficult to reach when they’re in the front. Consider calling a professional who will be better equipped to manage the issue.

Relevant Questions

How do I know if my dryer’s heating element has gone bad?

A bad heating element is usually indicative by the dryer taking longer than normal to dry your clothes. Also, if the dryer never heats in the first place, it’s possible that a bad heating element is the cause.

What would cause a dryer not to start up?

This could be due to a number of issues however, it’s most likely caused by lack of power, a blown thermal fuse, fault start switch, or defective door switch preventing the cycle from starting.

Wrapping It Up

If your dryer is blowing out cold air instead of hot, the most probable cause is that it has overheated. Whether this was caused by overloading, blocked venting, or prematurely opening the dryer door, you should now have a better understanding about how to assess and fix the problem.

For more common dryer issues check out, “Dryer Making Loud Noise? We Have a Fix (Ultimate Guide)” and “How to Vent a Dryer in the Middle of the House.”

Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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