Dryer Running, Not Heating

The list below are the most common failures when you have a dryer that runs but does not heat.  There are a number of parts that can cause this dryer issue.

Power Problem

With most dryer repairs, the first thing you always want to do is make sure your dryer is getting the proper voltage to run correctly.  It is possible for half a double pole breaker to be kicked.  This means the motor is getting power to run, but the heating element is not able to run.  Check your power cords for any signs of damage or burn marks.  Check for blown circuit breakers in your house electrical panel.

Heating Element

Dryer Heating ElementThis is the component that creates the heat in your electric dryer.  It requires 220 Volts AC to heat properly.  Heating elements come in all shapes and sizes.  Basically they all work the same though, a coil of wire that glows red hot.


The igniter is what lights the gas that has entered the dryer throught the gas valve.  It will glow red hot, then when it reaches a certain temperature, it will trigger a thermostat that allows the gas to flow through the valve and into the burner.  That's when your dryer should start to heat up and everybody is happy.  If the igniter fails, then the motor will still run, but the dryer will not heat and your clothes will not dry.

Flame Sensor

This is the sensor that detects that the igniter is working correctly.  An easy way to tell if the flame sensor is the problem is simple.  If the igniter comes on then cycles off after about 15 seconds or so, the flame sensor is fine.  This would idicate an issue with the coils on the gas valve.  If the ignitor comes on and does not cycle off, then the flame sensor would need replaced.

Gas Coils

These are the little round coils that sit on top of the gas valve that have the wire connections on them.  These are the most common problem for gas dryers that are not heating.  If the igniter is glowing red hot and cycling on and off like it's supposed to, then you would need to replace the coils.  To test the coils is pretty simple, first you would remove the wires going to them, then check resistance across the two terminals on them.  You should get in the neighborhood of 1300 ohms give or take.

Motor Switch

The motor switch is on the dryer's motor.  It is activated when the motor starts to spin when you press the start button.  This is the click you heat when it first starts up.  It is possible for the contacts inside the switch to go bad.  The heater circuit passes through this switch.  A malfunction of this switch will cause the dryer to run, but not heat.  The whole motor would have to be replaced to fix this issue.

Limit Thermostat

These are the thermostat that allow the dryer to maintain a certain temperature.  They cycle the heater on and off to provide the proper temperature for your clothes to dry.  If one of these thermostats fails, the heater will not be able to come on and your clothes will not dry.  The same thing will happen with both gas and electric dryers.

Safety Thermostat

The safety thermostat is a non-resettable thermostat that sits on top of the heater assembly.  When this thermostat trips, it's usually do to a poor airflow issue.  This is telling you that you have a problem and need to fix it.  If the temperature of the heater rises above a certain temperature this will trip.  During normal operation the thermostat does not reach this temperature.  I've just learned a little trick for these thermostats.  They are in fact resettable.  You just need to know how to do it.  Watch the video to the right here and learn how to repair this at no cost.