Condenser tumble dryers achieve the same task as standard vented tumble dryers but work slightly differently. If you have one, your dryer won’t have a vent and will likely have a moisture reservoir you have to empty.
Condensing dryers don’t need ventilation and work by condensing and extracting moisture from clothes before passing it out into a drain or reservoir. Other than the drying mechanism, condensing dryers are similar to vented dryers and feature similar components.
Like all electrical appliances, condenser dryers are subject to wear and tear and can develop faults.
Here’s what to do if your condenser tumble dryer keeps stopping.
What is a condenser tumble dryer?
Condenser tumble dryers remove moisture from clothes using two different air flows.
Damp air is moved away from the clothes while drier air is pulled through them, extracting condensed moisture and passing it to a reservoir or water tank. Less commonly, the dryer will be connected to a drain or “plumbed in”, meaning you won’t have to empty a tank.
Condensing dryers negate the requirement for ventilation, making them convenient to use in rooms where ventilating a dryer isn’t straightforward. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same as vented dryers.
Why does my condenser tumble dryer keep stopping?
Condensing tumble dryers are slightly more complex than vented dryers but are usually newer and easier to maintain and service. Moreover, most feature digital displays which indicate error codes for common issues.
Before you start tinkering and troubleshooting, check your dryer for an error code. Many modern dryers will alert you to common issues, such as replacing the fluff filter or emptying the reservoir. If your dryer displays a code, check it against your manual and start there.
Otherwise, here are the likely reasons why your condensing dryer keeps stopping:
Full water tank
If you have a condensing dryer, it’ll either operate via a water tank, which has to be removed when full, or plumbed into the drain.
If it uses a water tank (more likely), then this needs to be removed and emptied periodically. Otherwise, the dryer will stop working.
Removing the tank is usually straightforward, so you might as well get into the habit of doing it after each wash. If you’re drying thicker, more absorbent or wetter clothes, you’ll need to empty the tank more often.
Pre-drying in the washing machine speeds up the tumble drying cycle and reduces the frequency you have to remove the reservoir.
Tumble dryer doors feature electronic catches that prevent the machine from switching on if the door is open.
Usually, these work without issue, but the catch or door lock can fail if they break or develop a fault. This may cause the machine to stop itself from working.
Inspect the door to ensure it’s properly shut. If the door is shut, but your machine is telling you it's open (e.g. with an error code), then there may be an issue with the electronic door lock.
Dirty moisture sensor
Condensing dryers feature moisture sensors that auto shut-off the drying process when they detect that your clothes are dry.
This means you won’t even need to set a timer - the dryer should shut off automatically.
The moisture sensors usually take the form of a few strips inside the drum, which you can identify from your manual. Dirty sensors might cause the routine to shut off early or even fail to start.
The sensors should be cleaned with a damp cloth every month or few weeks, especially if they’re visibly dirty or dusty.
Too much laundry
Modern condensing dryers will likely detect how much laundry you place inside them - too much laundry will prevent them from running correctly.
Consult your manual to find the maximum weight you can place inside your dryer - you may need to split a larger load into smaller loads.
Full fluff filter
Like vented dryers, condensing dryers have fluff trays or filters that require regular cleaning.
A blocked fluff filter may cause your machine to overheat or cut out randomly during use. If the filter is full, a modern dryer will likely display a code or light to instruct you to clean it.
Otherwise, ensure you clean the fluff filter regularly.
Damaged drive belt or cams/pulleys/runners
Condensing dryers rotate like vented dryers, and the belts, cams, pulleys and runners can wear out and break.
The most likely culprit is the drive belt, which is a cheap and easy fix.
- If the drive belt breaks, you’ll be able to rotate the dryer without much resistance, but it won’t turn when you switch it on.
- If the cams or pulleys break, you may not be able to turn the drum freely with your hand. In addition, there will probably be a grinding sound emanating from the mechanism.
If the machine doesn’t run, but you can’t turn the drum with your hand either, the motor might have broken or seized.
This can happen if moisture or fluff gets inside the motor. You may also hear grinding sounds in the days and weeks preceding the machine breaking down.
This is a serious issue that warrants the assistance of a trained repairer or electrician.
Room is Too Hot or Humid
Condensing dryers work best in dry, well-ventilated rooms. However, they rely on a steady flow of dryer air from the room, so if the room they’re placed in is very hot and humid, they’ll struggle to remove water from the clothes.
If your dryer plays up during extra-hot weather, this is a possible cause. Move the dryer to a cooler, well-ventilated room if the issue persists.
Similarly, hot weather may cause overheating, especially if the fluff filter is clogged up.
Therefore, it’s essential to keep your fluff filter clear in hot weather.
If your dryer overheats regularly but doesn’t seem hot, there may be an issue with the thermal cut-off switch.
Condensing dryers pump the water from the tank into the reservoir.
If the pump fails, the reservoir won’t fill, and the machine will seemingly fail to dry any clothes. Alternatively, it will automatically shut off and report a fault.
To check the pump, pour some water into the tank without any clothes inside and switch it on. If all is working as it should, the machine should effectively remove the water into the reservoir.
If your condensing dryer fails to turn on or switches off randomly, there may be some sort of electrical fault, such as:
- Broken cable or plug
- Blown fuse in mains plug
- Motor or motor starter capacitor fault
- Control panel fault
- Internal wiring issue
- Thermal cut-out issue
- Broken sensor
- Issue with door switch
These types of faults are rare in modern dryers, but if you try all of the above and nothing works, an internal electrical fault is a possibility. In this situation, it’s usually necessary to disassemble the dryer and test each component in sequence using a multimeter.
Only attempt this if you’re comfortable with electronics - always ensure the device is totally unplugged from the mains before tinkering with anything. Then, start at the fuse and cable and work your way into the device.
No luck? Call us
If none of the above solves your issue, give us a call in to take a look. Most faults are pretty easy to diagnose, but can be tricky if you’re looking at an electrical fault.
Replacing most tumble dryer parts is cheap and easy and beats replacing the whole machine!