Regulating your dryer’s temperature is important for two very different reasons. The first reason is to make sure your dryer reaches the correct temperature range to dry your clothes in good time. The second reason is to avoid overheating and feeling like it’s getting too hot…prompting that thought of a fire risk.
We’ll explore the ideal temperature for a dryer, signs that yours may be too hot, and tips for keeping it running safely
- How Hot Should a Clothes Dryer Get
- Fixing a Dryer That’s Getting Too Hot
- Reasons Your Dryer is Not Getting Hot
How Hot Should a Clothes Dryer Get
The average running temperature of a dryer is typically between 125 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with some models capable of reaching up to a maximum of 176°F.
The heat of your dryer is set to dry through your clothing, it’s not intended to kill bacteria or disinfect your clothes.
However, according to the American Society for Microbiology infectious viruses and bacteria will start to die off at temperatures above 113°F. However, sustained temperatures above 140°F will result in a significant reduction of microbes, so drying alone is not always a reliable method of cleaning.
What Determines A Dryers Temperature
The warmth that a dryer produces is influenced by many distinct aspects. Notably, the make and model of your appliance have a great impact on its heat capability – modern versions are designed to withstand higher temperatures without compromising any components or ceasing operation. Additionally, the temperature range you set will also determine how hot it runs.
Signs Your Dryer is Running Too Hot
If you are concerned that your dryer might be getting too hot, keep an eye out for the telltale signs.
- The outside of your dryer should not feel hot. Yes, it will feel warm but the outside of your dryer should not be hot to the touch.
- Any unusual smells such as burning, rubber, or metallic smells will be an indication that your dryer could be overheating due to a mechanical fault or blocked vent.
- Look out for burns or other discoloration on clothing after drying as this could also indicate excessively high-temperature levels within the dryer.
Risks Of A Dryer Overheating
Don’t underestimate the potential danger of a dryer overheating, in the worst-case scenario it could result in a fire risk.
It is important to manually shut off the power supply if you detect any burning smell from your appliance, or excessive overheating.
Signs Your Dryer Is Not Getting Hot Enough
To determine whether your dryer is getting hot enough you can simply feel how dry your clothes are when you remove them from the machine. If they are still wet or damp, it means that the dryer is not getting hot enough.
There are a number of different reasons why your dryer is not getting sufficient heat, including poor airflow from a clogged lint trap, or a defective heater element or ignitor.
Fixing a Dryer That’s Getting Too Hot
Clear Lint Trap
It’s recommended that you clean the lint trap at least once a month. You should do this regardless of whether or not the dryer is working properly. If you clean the lint trap regularly, it will increase the lifespan of your dryer. It’ll also ensure that your clothes get dry faster.
Depending on the model and make of your dryer, the lint trap will be located either on top of the appliance or inside the door in front of the drum. Here’s how you can clean it:
- Start by removing the lint screen.
- Remove any big pieces of lint with your hands.
- Grab a vacuum cleaner and use it to remove any pieces of lint that you can.
- It’s also advised that you get a dryer cleaning brush to thoroughly clean the component and remove those small pieces of lint you might otherwise miss.
- Clean the lint screen with hot water and liquid detergent and let it dry.
- Put the lint screen back in its original position.
If you want to see a visual guide on how to clean the lint trap in your dryer, you should watch the video below.
Check Your Dryer Vent Has Clear Airflow
Nearly every dryer has an exhaust vent that’s four inches in diameter located in the back of the machine. Like any other venting system it can only function if it’s clear, so it’s important to inspect it regularly and remove any lint buildup. A vent blockage can restrict airflow and lead to your dryer overheating.
Use a vacuum cleaner to suck out any lint and dust that has been collected in the vent. In some instances, you may need to use a long pipe or bottle brush to loosen the material before vacuuming it out.
Faulty Burner or Heating Element
Electric dryers generate heat through a metal heating element, similar to the heating coils you find on electric heaters. Whereas gas dryers use a burner assembly to generate heat. A small gas solenoid valve releases gas into the ignition chamber where the ignitor burns it.
If your dryer is overheating or not heating at all, it could be the result of a faulty burner assembly or heating element.
In this situation, you will need to replace the faulty components depending on the type of dryer you have. This can be quite a complex task, so it might be best to call a repair technician for assistance.
Test The Cycling Thermostat
All dryers have a small sensor called a cycling thermostat, that functions to regulate heat by cycling the temperature between the range set by the manufacturer. Typically this ranges between 125-150°F depending on the make and model, but sometimes it’s higher.
If the cycling thermostat fails it could lead to overheating, or in most cases the lack of regulated heat control will lead the appliance to shut down, as a safety measure.
Test your cycling thermostat with a multimeter and ensure that it continues to regulate air temperature in your dryer. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide on how to conduct the test:
- Start by disconnecting the dryer from its power source.
- Now unscrew the screws that secure the access panel on the back of the machine.
- You will notice an oval-shaped component either on the blower wheel housing or inside of the venting system, depending on the make and model of your appliance. The oval-shaped component is the cycling thermostat.
- Remove the cycling thermostat from the dryer and set your multimeter to the lowest ohm setting.
- Connect the leads of the multimeter to the thermostat’s terminals.
- If you get a reading of 0 ohms or a number close to 0, the thermostat is in good condition.
- In case you get a reading of a very high number or infinity, you will have to replace this component.
If you’d like to learn more about testing the cycling thermostat for electrical continuity, I recommend that you watch the video below.
Inspect The Blower Wheel
The blower wheel is a component that is responsible for moving air through the duct system. Just like the lint trap, it can become clogged with lint, leading to poor airflow which in turn leads to the dryer element overheating.
- To inspect the blower wheel, you will need to remove the exhaust hose from the appliance.
- Once you are done, you’ll see a metal plate that you’ll need to take out of the machine as well.
- You’ll now see a wheel, which is a plastic vented disc that basically looks like a fan
- Make sure that you thoroughly check it for lint buildup and clean it with a dry cloth.
- If the blower wheel inside your dryer is defective, cracked, or damaged in any other way,
Watch the instructional video below to find out how to install a replacement blower wheel.
Reasons Your Dryer is Not Getting Hot
An overloaded dryer is unable to adequately circulate air and heat, meaning your clothes won’t be able to get completely dry. This can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on the drum, motor, and heating element of your dryer, as well as shorten its lifespan.
It’s also worth noting that an overloaded dryer can cause it to run hotter than usual, which could lead to other issues, including overheating and potentially fire.
Blocked Air Vents
Blocked air vents can cause a whole host of problems from overheating to preventing effective airflow which leads to the dryer not getting heat into the dryer drum to dry your clothes.
You will need to inspect the vent and remove any lint particles blocking it. The best way to clean the vent is with a vacuum cleaner, and wipe it with a cloth afterward.
Clogged Lint Trap
When there is a buildup of lint in the machine, it blocks the airflow and significantly reduces the operating temperature of the dryer. By now you will already know how to clean the lint trap from the previous section of the article. Make sure you follow these instructions to remove the lint buildup allowing your dryer to operate normally.
Faulty Heating Element or Burner
There can be two potential outcomes to a faulty heating element or burner. The first is that the dryer doesn’t stop heating and eventually operates under a dangerously high temperature. The second is that not enough heat is distributed in the appliance for it to dry your clothes.
If your dryer is not getting hot, you will definitely need to check the heating element or the gas burner. You can find more detailed information on these heating problems by reading this troubleshooting guide Dryer Not Heating Up | Gas and Electric SOLVED
American Society for Microbiology (ASM) – Laundry Hygiene and Odor Control: State of the Science
Andy has over 8 years of experience working on residential household appliances, performing diagnostics, and repairs across most major brands. He graduated from the Denver Institute of Technology, is NASTeC certified, and has worked for Mr. Appliance. Andy has contributed to features on major publications including Better Home & Gardens, Family Handyman, and Yahoo.com.