Dryer: Starts then stops

If an electric dryer starts but then stops before the load is dry, a clogged exhaust vent may have caused the dryer to overheat and trip the thermal fuse. Regular preventive maintenance that includes clearing lint out of the exhaust system helps keep the dryer running. For electric and gas dryers that use a motor relay, the dryer may start when you press the push-to-start switch but then stop when you release that switch.

You may be tempted to replace the push-to-start switch in that situation, but the fault often lies with the motor relay because the motor relay should keep the dryer running after you release the push-to-start switch. All dryers stop when the door opens or the door switch detects the door opening, so a broken door strike, weak door catch or faulty door switch can cause the dryer to stop mid-cycle. A bad drive motor, failed timer or faulty electronic control board can also stop the dryer before the cycle ends.

If your dryer won't restart, follow the troubleshooting tips in one of these videos to get the dryer going again.

dryer

These repairs may help solve your dryer problem

Replace the dryer thermal fuse

Replace the dryer thermal fuse

The thermal fuse is usually mounted on the blower fan housing. It detects the temperature of the air venting from the dryer to the outdoors and trips if the air becomes too hot. It typically trips if the vent tube is clogged or the exterior damper is closed. In an electric dryer, the thermal fuse shuts off the dryer when it trips. In a gas dryer, it prevents the dryer from heating, but the dryer still runs. The thermal fuse doesn't reset when the dryer cools and must be replaced if it trips.

How to replace a thermal fuse in an electric dryer

If your electric dryer's won't start, but the control panel lights are working, it may be due to a blown thermal fuse. This DIY repair guide and video explain how to replace an electric dryer thermal fuse in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
August 1, 2014
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a thermal fuse in a gas dryer

Gas dryer not getting hot? The termal fuse might have blown. This repair guide and video show how to replace the gas dryer thermal fuse in 30 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace or repair the dryer drive motor

Replace or repair the dryer drive motor

The drive motor rotates the motor shaft, which in turn rotates the idler pulley, which rotates the drive belt that's wrapped around the dryer drum. The motion of these components causes the drum to rotate during the cycle. The drive motor also rotates the blower fan blade on most dryers.

A failing drive motor may shut off in the middle of a cycle then restart after the motor cools down. Replace the drive motor if it overheats.

The wire harness connections on the motor can be repaired, but the internal components on the motor cannot. If the drive motor doesn't run when voltage is applied to it, replace the drive motor.

August 1, 2014
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dryer drive motor

If your dryer's drum won't turn, the problem could be the drive motor . This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a dryer drive motor.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 90 minutes or less
Read more
Repair or replace the dryer electronic control board

Repair or replace the dryer electronic control board

The electronic control board governs the timing and execution of dryer functions. The wiring connections on the control board can be repaired, but the control board itself cannot. Replace the electronic control board if it's receiving voltage but isn't transmitting it to the dryer components, causing the dryer to not work. The dryer may start but then stop in the middle of the cycle if internal control board components don't detect sensor signals accurately. It can be difficult to determine if the electronic control board is the problem (unless you see burn marks on it) and it's an expensive part that can't be returned once installed; for that reason, have a trained service technician perform advanced diagnostics on control board before you replace it.

August 1, 2014
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dryer electronic control board

A dryer's electronic control board manages the dryer's operations, including drying time and temperature. If you or a service technician determine that the electronic control board has failed, follow the steps in this repair guide and video to replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the dryer timer

Replace the dryer timer

The timer on the control panel lets you set the drying time by turning the timer's control knob. A small motor on the back of the timer advances the timer during the cycle. The timer's internal cams open and close switches or contacts to operate the various electro-mechanical components in the dryer (mainly the drive motor and the heating element). Replace the timer if the contacts aren't working, the dryer won't start, heat or continue running, or the timer won't advance.

August 1, 2014
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dryer timer

If your dryer won't advance through the drying cycle, the timer might have failed. This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a dryer timer in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the dryer door switch

Replace the dryer door switch

The dryer door switch detects whether the dryer door is open or closed. The dryer won't start if the door switch senses that the door is open. Or, the dryer might start then stop if the door switch fails during the cycle. If the switch reads the door as being open when it's shut, or if it allows the dryer to keep running when the door is open, replace it.

August 1, 2014
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a dryer door switch

If your dryer won't start when you shut the door, it may mean the door switch has failed. This DIY repair guide and video explain how to replace the dryer door switch in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the dryer motor relay

Replace the dryer motor relay

Some dryers have a motor relay, which is an electrically operated switch. The motor relay stays electrically closed to keep the drive motor running as long it receives the proper voltage from the electronic control board. When the voltage supply to the relay stops, the relay opens electrically to halt the voltage supply to the drive motor, which then stops. When a motor relay fails, the dryer motor stops running when you release the start button.

Replace the dryer door catch

Replace the dryer door catch

The door catch is the part of the door latch assembly that's usually attached to the front panel, but sometimes is attached to the door. When the door is closed, the spring-loaded door catch encloses and grips the door strike, which is mounted across from it. The tension of the door catch keeps the door from opening until it's manually opened. If the door won't latch closed and the strike is intact, replace the catch. If the door catch holds the door closed to start the cycle but can't continue to hold the door shut during the cycle to keep the dryer running, replace the door catch.

Replace the dryer door strike

Replace the dryer door strike

The dryer door strike is the part of the door latch assembly. It's usually attached to the door, but sometimes is attached to the front panel. When the door is closed, the door strike is pushed into the spring-loaded door catch mounted across from it. The tension of the catch keeps the door from opening until it's manually opened. If the door strike damaged, replace the strike. If the door won't latch closed and the strike is intact, replace the catch. If the door strike holds the door closed to start the cycle but can't continue holding the door shut during the cycle to keep the dryer running, replace the door strike.

Regular dryer maintenance

Regular dryer maintenance

Preventive maintenance for a dryer includes cleaning lint from the vent tube that runs from the dryer to the outdoors. Trapped lint can clog the vent, which creates a fire hazard and can increase drying times.

A clogged vent tube also can cause the dryer to overheat and trip the thermal fuse, causing the dryer to stop.

Check the power cord for damage and replace the cord if you see any break in the wiring insulation.

Clean the outside cabinet and the inside of the drum using a soapy washcloth. Wipe down the surfaces with plain water to remove soap residue.

Wash the lint screen with water and a soft-bristle brush to remove fabric softener residue that can build up on the lint screen, lead to longer drying times and even cause the dryer to overheat. Allow the lint screen to dry completely and then reinstall the screen in the dryer.

Symptoms common to all dryers

Choose a symptom to see related dryer repairs.

Main causes: bad gas valve coils, broken heating element, tripped safety thermostat or fuse, bad operating thermostat, control failure
Main causes: clogged exhaust system, heating system failure, deposits on moisture sensor, control system failure
Main causes: bad drum support roller, damaged idler pulley, broken blower fan blade, worn drum glide bearing, bad drive motor
Main causes: door switch failure, lack of power, broken belt, blown thermal fuse, bad drive motor, control system failure
Main causes: clogged exhaust vent, bad motor relay, loose dryer door catch, bad door switch, control system failure, faulty drive motor
Main causes: lack of electrical power, bad power cord, wiring failure, bad control board, blown thermal fuse, bad door switch
Main causes: bad timer or electronic control board, door switch failure
Main causes: damaged door strike, worn door catch
Repair guides common to all dryers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your dryer.

How to replace a heating element in an electric dryer

The heating element in an electric dryer generates the dryer's heat—it's one of the first things to check if the air in the dryer doesn't get warm. If it's damaged, this repair guide will show you how to replace the heating element.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a thermal fuse in an electric dryer

When the air in the dryer overheats—usually because the vent is clogged—the thermal fuse blows, stopping the dryer. You can't reset the fuse; you must replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to install a thermal cut-off fuse kit in a gas dryer

The thermal cut-off fuse shuts off the heat if the dryer overheats when the high-limit thermostat fails. The thermal cut-off fuse kit includes both parts.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Articles and videos common to all dryers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your dryer.

June 20, 2016
Electric dryer won't start troubleshooting video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn what four things to check if your electric dryer won't start or run.

February 26, 2016
Quiz: Are you abusing your appliances?
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Take our quiz to see how well you treat your appliances. Then, find out what you can do to help them last longer.

February 11, 2016
How to keep a dryer clean and economical
By Sears PartsDirect staff

This easy-to-follow advice helps your dryer run efficiently, so you spend less on energy and your clothes dry faster.