Is Your Tumble Dryer Not Spinning? Here's Why

Has your tumble dryer stopped spinning? There are numerous possible explanations, but luckily, many are straightforward to fix. 

Tumble dryers are generally reliable, but faults are pretty much inevitable after years of use. 

One of the most common issues is a tumble dryer that stops spinning. There are numerous possible explanations, but luckily, many are straightforward to fix. 

Here’s what to do if your tumble dryer isn’t spinning. 

6 Reasons why your tumble dryer is not spinning

Your tumble dryer might stop spinning suddenly, or it might be a gradual process. However, most of the time, getting your dryer up and running again should be a fairly straightforward task, so fingers crossed!

It’s not plugged in or it has a blown fuse

Firstly, it’s always wise to check the obvious. 

Ensuring the tumble dryer is plugged into the mains and switched on is the first port of call. Next, ensure the mains plug is working - test it by plugging something else in. 

If you’re using an extension lead, ensure the light is on (if applicable). Tumble dryers draw a lot of power and shouldn’t be connected to extension leads with other high-power electrical appliances. Instead, plug them directly into the mains socket if possible. 

Then, it might pay to check the fuse in the plug or extension lead itself. If the fuse is blown, it’ll probably be blackened on the tips. 

There’s a faulty door switch 

Tumble dryer doors feature an electrical switch which indicates to the system whether or not the door is closed correctly. Check for an obstruction in or near the switch if the door doesn't shut properly. For example, the switch or catch might’ve bent or cracked, preventing proper closure. 

Otherwise, the issue may reside in the electrical door switch. This can be removed and tested with an ohm meter or multimeter, but that’s only recommended if you have some electrical experience. Never dismantle electrical components without unplugging the device. 

It has a seized drum

All types of tumble dryers have moving drums that cycle the clothes and ensure smooth and even drying. The drum is powered by a motor and mounted on rollers which support and guide the drum. If the drum doesn’t move by hand, there may be an issue with the motor, rollers or drum. 

  • The motor bearings may have worn or failed, causing a seized drum. This is a gradual process, and you’ll probably find your tumble dryer making grinding noises in the weeks and months leading up to it seizing. 
  • Similarly, the rollers or pulleys can become worn or fail, causing the drum to essentially derail and seize.
  • If your tumble dryer is very old or well-used, a build-up of fluff and debris around the exterior of the drum may cause it to seize up.
  • You’ll need to dismantle the dryer and check the components in any of these situations. So, unless you have electrical experience, it’s worth calling for professional help. 

The thermal fuse isn’t working

All tumble dryers feature thermal fuses or thermal overload cut-out (TOC) devices that prevent catastrophic overheating. Most modern dryers will tell you if they’ve overheated, so check the panel for error codes to check against your manual. 

If the dryer overheats, waiting until it cools and switching off/on or resetting should get it working again. This is more likely in hot and humid weather. If your tumble dryer often overheats, clean the filters and venting (in the case of a vented dryer) and empty the reservoir (in the case of a condensing dryer). 

cleaning lint and fluff out of tumble dryer filter
Above: Cleaning dryer filter of fluff

The dryer belt is broken

Many washing machines are belt-driven, meaning the motor rotates the drum via a belt. Belts wear and stretch over time and can eventually snap altogether. If you can rotate the drum by hand, the belt is a probable cause. 

Black tumble dyer belt
Above: Tumble dryer belt

Also, if the belt snaps, you may hear the motor when you switch the dryer on, despite the drum not rotating. 

Dryer belts are cheap and easy to fix, but you must dismantle your dryer to replace them.  

It has a broken motor

Tumble dryers use motors to power the drum. 

Motors will wear over time and can eventually break altogether. If the motor is completely broken, the drum will likely seize totally and you won’t hear anything when you switch the dryer on. However, it’s more likely that the bearings will fail first, in which case the dryer will become increasingly noisy until it eventually stops rotating properly. 

Another possible cause is the motor start capacitor. This is a small device that essentially jumpstarts the motor. 

Always test the capacitor before assuming the motor is broken, as they’re considerably cheaper and easier to fix. 

How to fix a tumble dryer not spinning?

First and foremost, modern dryers with control panels will likely display an error message if they stop working. This may even tell you what to do, e.g. clean the filter. 

White tumble dryer with dial and digital screen
Above: Dryer control panel

Push the reset button

Before doing anything else, ensure your dryer’s filters and reservoir (if applicable) are clean. If it’s a vented system, ensure the vent is clear of fluff and debris. Clean the inside of the drum with a damp cloth too. If it feels hot, unplug and wait 30-minutes to an hour for it cool properly. 

Well-used tumble dryers can become extremely clogged up, and cleaning them often sorts the issue. 

Once you’ve done that, reset the dryer or turn it off and on again. This will more often than not fix the issue. 

Replace the dryer belt

Tumble dryer belts inevitably wear out, but they’re cheap and easy to replace. If you’re comfortable disassembling your dryer, you can replace it yourself. Check the manual for guidance and find the relevant part code for the belt you need.

No luck? It’s best left to the professionals

Most electrical faults are tough to solve unless you have electrical experience. You’ll need to systematically test the parts in your dryer using a multimeter to find out which one is broken, and then replace it. 

Contact us if you can’t rectify a dryer that isn’t spinning using the above steps. 

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