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Why won’t my dryer start: common reasons & how to fix

There are several possible causes for a dryer that doesn’t start, ranging from power failures to user error to defective internal or external parts. Different types of dryers, like gas or electric, may have different causes for the dryer not starting. 

Understanding the cause of a dryer that won’t start may make it easier to resolve the issue. Some causes may be addressed with a simple repair, while others may be a sign to start shopping for a new appliance, like these dryers from Whirlpool brand. Read this guide to learn why your dryer won’t start and get some ideas for how to address the problem.

Slate gray Whirlpool® washer and dryer Slate gray Whirlpool® washer and dryer

Common reasons a dryer won’t turn on

When you operate your dryer according to its use and care guidelines, a dryer not starting isn’t common. If you notice your dryer is not starting, it may be due to the following reasons:

  • Appliance is set to “Controls Locked”

  • Tripped circuit breaker

  • Start button wasn’t held down long enough

  • Dryer door not fully latched

  • Incorrect cycle selected

Once you are able to troubleshoot the cause of your dryer not starting, you can take the appropriate steps to resolving the issue.

Person selecting a dryer cycle on a Whirlpool® dryer Person selecting a dryer cycle on a Whirlpool® dryer

Why does nothing happen when I press start on my dryer?

If your dryer does not turn on and begin its drying cycle when you press the “Start” button, there may be an issue with one or more of its internal or external parts. To resolve the issue, you may need to have the malfunctioning parts repaired or replaced, or upgrade your appliance to a newer model.

How to fix a dryer that won’t start

It can be frustrating to discover that your dryer won’t start after you have tossed in a wet load of laundry fresh from the washer. Use the following tips to troubleshoot your dryer’s problem and help get laundry day back on track.

Lock icon

“Controls Locked” indicator light is on

If your dryer isn’t turning on when you press start, first check the “control lock” or “child lock” setting. Some models include these settings to lock the control panel so that the dryer cannot be used or started when the indicator light is on to prevent an accidental start of a cycle. If you see that this setting has been selected, unlock the controls using the instructions found in your owner’s manual.

Circuit breaker icon

Tripped circuit breaker

When you use multiple large appliances at once, it is possible to trip the circuit breaker. If your dryer won’t start, check the circuit breaker to ensure that both fuses are intact and tight. If the breaker has been tripped, replace the fuses or reset the breaker.

Power button icon

Improperly pressed “Start” button

Depending on the model of your dryer, you may have to firmly press the “Start” button down for two to five seconds to get the cycle to begin. If you have only gently pressed or tapped the “Start” button, it may not allow enough time to engage the motor on your dryer. Dryers with digital control panels need to be handled with dry hands only, as moisture can cause the panel to be unresponsive.

Open dryer icon

Unlatched dryer door

A malfunctioning or improperly latched dryer door can be the cause for a dryer that won’t start or keeps stopping mid-cycle. Depending on the model, your dryer may have one or two door latches that signal to the motor that the dryer is ready to begin the cycle. If the dryer door isn’t fully closed or latched properly, the cycle won’t begin. Check that the dryer door is properly closed and latched and ensure that clothes aren’t stuck in the door.

Dryer icon

Incorrect cycle was selected

If your dryer starts but doesn’t generate any heat, you may have selected the wrong drying cycle. Some dryers offer features like Automatic or Timed Dry cycles that may affect how and when the appliance functions. To better understand your dryer’s cycles and settings, consult the product manual.

Drive belt icon

Worn out drive belt

The drive belt connects to the motor to rotate the dryer drum during a cycle. If you try to start your dryer and hear the motor running but the drum isn’t rotating, the drive belt may be worn out or broken and will need to be replaced.

Control board icon

Short in the main control board

The main control panel controls your dryer’s timing, temperature and function by sending power to the motor and all other components. If all other parts of your dryer are in good shape but your dryer isn’t starting, the problem may lie with the control board. Professional help is recommended for a proper diagnosis and replacement of a short in the control board. You can schedule a service for your Whirlpool® dryer at the Repair or Replace service center.

Shop Whirlpool® dryers

Whether you’re looking for a front control or top control dryer, Whirlpool brand offers a variety of dryers designed to help you care for your family’s laundry. With features like the EcoBoost setting that saves energy by using less heat and the Steam and Refresh Cycle that releases wrinkles without rewashing, Whirlpool brand has the options to fit your family’s laundry needs.

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Learn more about Whirlpool® dryers

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