Why Isn’t a Dryer Drum Rotating?


Your tumble dryer, in order to dry your clothing, needs to actually be turning and tumbling whatever is inside. What the rotating and tumble motion does is allow the hot air to fully circulate throughout your clothing. However, it is not just that. During this tumbling motion, it also allows that moisture to be released from the clothing so it can be properly vented out. If the dryer is just heat and no motion. The surface layer may get dryer over time, but it is unlikely anything on the bottom of the pile will ever get dry without overheating what is on top. Unfortunately, what causes a dryer to not rotate is usually a pretty technical issue that some appliance owners may not be really comfortable dealing with and repairing on their own. However, if you would like to give it a shot or at least troubleshoot the issue in order to find out, here are some issues you can investigate to try and figure out why your dryer drum is not turning.

The Door Lock is Not Engaged

The door lock on your dryer is a safety feature. The vibration from the appliance and motion from the clothing can push open the dryer door if it is not locked. It is not really dangerous to have your clothing spewing out everywhere, but the heat that comes out of an open dryer can be an issue. As such, all modern dryers come with a door lock that, when not engaged, will prevent the entire dryer from starting up at all. This means that it will not just prevent it from tumbling, but will prevent the appliance from turning on at all.

High Limit Thermostat is Tripped

Similar to the door lock, the high limit thermostat on a dryer is another safety feature. This thermostat, located above the exhaust hose, measures the temperature of the dryer. If the air circulating gets too hot, it will trip in order to prevent a fire from happening in your appliance and home. Unfortunately, this thermostat is a one time use part. Once it is triggered, there is no resetting it. The part will need to be replaced. Like the door lock situation, once it happens, the dryer will cease to function. In some models, a tripped high limit thermostat will only cut the heating function. In others, it will cut the power to the appliance completely so it will not work at all.

The Drive Belt is Broken

There are quite a few small parts that go into the rotation of a dryer drum. However, unlike the small parts that may just get noisy when they go bad, the drive belt is crucial to the actual motion of your dryer drum. With the help of a motor and pulley, the belt does the physical turning motion.

Sometimes the drive belt can come loose and it results in noisy or slow tumbling. If the drive belt has snapped or slide off completely, then the dryer drum will not tumble at all. While you can technically just slip the belt on if it comes loose, if it comes loose once, there is a chance it will keep happening again and again. It can be a sign that the belt is starting to stretch and become damaged. So while you definitely need to replace a snapped belt, you should consider replacing a slipped one as well just to save you some time later.

The Drive Motor is Broken

With the drive belt, the motor provides the actual power to turn it. So if you suspect a drive belt is faulty, open up your dryer, and find it still snug on the pulley, you definitely want to test the motor instead. If your motor is faulty, your dryer will also be extra quiet as the drive motor does contribute to regular noise. If it is not working, then you won’t hear that motor working or may hear it struggling. Without the motor, also you will not see any full motion from the drum.

The Capacitor is Faulty

In some cases, the drive motor will still test like it is working. When this happens, you will want to look to the capacitor. If a capacitor has gone bad, it may not give enough power to jump start the motor when it needs to actually work. If you do think you have a bad capacitor, this is something you will strongly want to have replaced by a professional as it can be dangerous to do yourself.

The Circuit Board is Defective

If there is one thing to always keep in mind, it is that when a circuit board goes bad, all problems can be blamed on it. The circuit board is the brain of your dryer. It may just fail completely one day, or it may manifest a laundry basket of other symptoms. One of those symptoms can be no tumble or intermittent rotation of your dryer drum. Usually, if this happens, you will notice other things wrong with the dryer as well. It can be just that one issue, but usually it is many different things.

Your Home Has Electrical Issues

If your dryer starts just fine, but shuts off in the middle or soon after starting, it is best to check the outlet. If your home has electrical issues, it can be dangerous for the house and the appliance. You will want to test the outlet as it can be an issue that only manifests for that one area of your home. Unfortunately, electrical issues are not something your standard appliance repair technician can fix. Instead, you will want to contact an electrician to make the repair.

Have you tried to troubleshooting a dryer that won’t rotate only to come up empty-handed? Is the responsible issue a little beyond your comfort zone in terms of repair? We can help. 

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