Is Your Tumble Dryer Not Drying Properly? Check Out These 15 Steps on How to Fix This

Is your tumble dryer leaving your clothes damp and not drying the laundry well? To help you diagnose the issue, we’ve compiled a list of possible reasons your tumble dryer might not be drying clothes as it should be. It is always helpful to have a checklist of troubleshooting problems before you open the tumble dryer or call a repair technician.

Follow these steps to figure out why your tumble dryer might not be drying clothes properly:

  1. Make sure you aren’t overloading the dryer, or the clothes aren’t tangled
  2. Is the dryer setting “cool air”?
  3. Check the program settings to see if they’re appropriate
  4. Is the dryer drum turning?
  5. Switch off the dryer
  6. Check the filter for lint build-up and empty it out
  7. Clean the drying sensor
  8. Inspect the vent or condenser for lint build-up
  9. Check the dryer hose for lint build-up (if you have a vented dryer)
  10. Clean the evaporator (if you have a heat pump tumble dryer)
  11. Check the thermostat switch to see if it has tripped
  12. A faulty heating element may have to be replaced
  13. Is the thermal fuse blown?
  14. Check the drainage or reservoir if you have a condenser dryer
  15. Check the dryer pump to see if it’s blocked or needs replacement

In this handy guide, we will walk you through each possible reason your tumble dryer may be malfunctioning, and you can try to fix it yourself because some of these steps are quite easy. You can save several bucks if the problem is a simple fix. Remember that your tumble dryer needs routine maintenance and cleaning to continue working efficiently!

1) Overloaded Dryer or Tangled Clothes

Always untangle your laundry before you load them into the tumble dryer so that there is good airflow and the clothes can dry easily when they move around freely in the tumble dryer drum. You should also be mindful of the weight you’re putting in the tumble dryer.

Don’t overload or underload your tumble dryer because that can cause several issues such as an overheated motor, the strain on the drum belt, and inefficiency in drying. Although it may be tempting to overload your tumble dryer to save time and energy, you’re not supposed to fill it to its maximum capacity. Try to keep the load to two-thirds of the maximum weight to keep your dryer running efficiently.  

When you underload a tumble dryer, the sensors cant detect the dryness of the clothes correctly and may end up over-drying or under drying your clothes.

2) Is The Dryer Setting “Cool Air”?

Some dryers come with a “cool air” setting. This setting is usually used for airing out laundry or freshening it up if it hasn’t been used for a while.

Often, people just forget to check their tumble dryer settings! And all you have to do is push a button and you’re all set. However, if that’s not the case, then keep reading this blog until you get to the source of the problem!

3) Program Settings

tumble Dryers come with various programs based on the type of clothing or laundry items and their material. This helps the tumble dryer set the temperature and drying time. If the program setting of the dryer isn’t appropriate to your laundry load, change the setting and run the cycle again to see if the problem is fixed.

You may also consider drying different types of items separately. For example, beddings or wool-based items can be dried separately from cotton-based laundry. That way, you can choose the appropriate tumble dryer setting and the tumble dryer will be able to work more efficiently. You can also check your manual for recommended settings and drying time for different types of fabrics or laundry. There might be slight differences in each brand and model of tumble dryers.

The “quick dry” setting is usually programmed to dry all sorts of fabrics without causing damage to them. If the tumble dryer is giving an error, check the manual to see what it means and see if you can figure out how to reset the settings.

4) Is The Dryer Drum Turning?

The dryer’s drum may not be turning at all, causing the clothes to stay in one place and making it impossible for the air to circulate between the clothes. When you run the dryer, check to see if the drum is turning. Some reasons that the dryer drum may not turn is a broken drive belt or a faulty capacitor.

A drive belt turns the drum. It might need to be replaced after a while if it wears away with friction. The dryer belt fitter is designed for easy replacement and installation of a new drive belt. Just order one online or buy the appropriate drive belt that goes with your make and model of the dryer from the local store. All you will need is a screwdriver and the brand-new tumble dryer belt.

The capacitor kick starts the motor that turns the drive belt and changes its direction. Faulty capacitors can give you a shock if you try to replace them on your own. Since this is a tricker repair job, it’s wiser to call a repair technician or electrician when replacing a faulty capacitor in your tumble dryer.

5) Switch Off the Dryer

We added this step just as a reminder to switch off your dryer before you move on to the next steps. All the steps above could be done without the need to probe into the dryer. The following will be more invasive. Wear protective gear, turn off the power source, remove the plug from the socket, and be careful!

6) Check The Filter For Lint Build-Up

When the filter is clogged with lint, the entire dryer system starts to malfunction, and the clothes may not dry. Remember to clean out the filter at least twice a month for smooth functioning of the tumble dryer. Ideally, you should be cleaning it after every use. The filter should be located in the door rim or the front panel of the tumble dryer.

7) Clean The Drying Sensor

If the drying sensor is covered with lint of steam, lint, detergent residue, or lime from the water, it won’t be able to detect when the clothes have dried, and stop the cycle prematurely, resulting in your damp laundry. Sometimes, the residue on the sensors cant be seen easily but it can still interfere with the sensor’s readings. Use a damp cloth or a little bit of vinegar to wipe the sensors clean.

8) Inspect The Vent or Condenser for Lint Build-Up

Lint can fall into the condenser during a cycle, causing the condenser dryer to malfunction by getting wet and stuck between the various parts of the machine. This lint can then build up and eventually obstruct the airflow, causing it to stop completely. This could be why your tumble dryer is leaving your laundry damp.

To check if there’s a lint build-up in the condenser, you can access the condenser or vent from either the front or back at the bottom of the tumble dryer, it depends on the brand and model of your machine.

Remove the condenser and clean it out thoroughly by scooping out any lint or debris. You can also use a vacuum cleaner on a low setting to suck out the lint from crevices that you can’t reach. You can also use a shower head to flush out the lint because a condenser is water-safe. Remember to remove the condenser from the dryer before you clean it with water!

You might also want to flash a torch at the condenser assembly to see if there’s any lint stuck there as well.

An unclean tumble dryer can cause your clothes to smell as well. Read this post on the Top 4 Reasons Why Clothes Smell After Tumble Drying to learn more about how you can fix this problem.

9) Check The Dryer Hose for Lint Build-Up (If You Have a Vented Tumble Dryer)

Hoses in vented tumble dryers can get blocked due to lint build-up. To examine vented tumble the dryer hose, you will have to remove the hose from the back of the tumble dryer. Sometimes, hoses are connected to wall vents which can also experience a lint build-up.

You can check the efficiency of the hose while the dryer is running by removing it midcycle and checking the airflow. The flow should be like a strong hairdryer and the temperature of the air should be warm.

If you’re looking to replace your vented tumble dryer or replace it with a new one, check out this post on The Best 7 KG Vented Tumble Dryers In The UK.

10) Clean The Evaporator (If You Have a Heat Pump Tumble Dryer)

Heat pump tumble dryers work as a refrigerant unit but in reverse. Heat is generated inside the drum so that the water can evaporate, and the refrigerant cools down the air that leaves the drum so that the water can be collected and removed from the hot air. You might have to clean the evaporator if the heat pump tumble dryer isn’t working efficiently.

11) Check The Thermostat Switch to See If It Has Tripped

A simple tripped switch could be the source of your problem. A thermostat trips due to overheating. They are installed to save the dryer from excessive damage due to high temperatures. To check the dryer’s thermostat, remove the panels of the dryer from the top, side, and bottom.

Simply press the button on the thermostat to reset it. You might have to replace a faulty thermostat if the switch isn’t the problem.

12) Faulty Heating Element

If the thermostat isn’t the culprit, you should check the heating element next to see if that’s the source of the problem. The thermostat and heating element are usually found in the same area of the tumble dryer. Use a multimeter on a low resistance setting and place the multimeter’s probes on the terminals inside the plug. A reading in the range of 20-50 ohms indicates a functional heating element. However, if that is not the case, you might need to change the heating element of your tumble dryer.

Changing the heating element is an easy repair job. Save money by replacing a faulty heating element in a tumble dryer yourself. Just like thermostats, heating elements for tumble dryers are also easily available at hardware stores.

13) Is The Thermal Fuse Blown?

A thermal fuse gets blown with a surge of electricity or high temperatures. The thermal fuse is a safety device installed in the Hotpoint Tumble Dryer which protects it from overheating. The thermal fuse is completely useless once it has blown. All you have to do is buy a new one and replace it.

14) Check The Drainage or Reservoir If You Have a Condenser Dryer

As mentioned before, a condenser dryer extracts water from wet clothes and drains it into a reservoir after it condenses. If the reservoir or the tray is not emptied regularly, the water may overflow, and the float switch may get activated which prevents any more water to be collected in the reservoir.

If you have a condenser tumble dryer, empty the tray before or after every drying cycle.

If the reservoir and tray are empty and fine, you might want to check the pump next.

If you wish to replace your condenser dryer with a new one, check out our post on The 10 Best Small Condenser Tumble Dryers In The UK.

15) Check The Dryer Pump

To check the dryer pump, pour a glass of water into the reservoir and turn on the dryer to see if the pump can send that water from the reservoir to the collecting tray. If the water does not appear in the try, you might have to replace the pump.  


Final Word

This may seem like an extensive list of tasks, but most of these tips are things that you should regularly be practicing if you use a tumble dryer. With routine maintenance, your tumble dryer is unlikely to malfunction until it reaches the end of its lifespan.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.