Tumble Dryer Keeps Tripping? Here’s why & what to do

When you have a load of wet laundry on a cold, wet day, the tumble dryer seems like the greatest appliance to ever have been invented. We all tend to take our dryers for granted, loading them with wet washing and around 60 minutes later removing completely dried clothes.

Unfortunately, after a few years, tumble dryers, like all other electrical appliances, can start to show signs of wear and tear. One of these signs is if the dryer keeps tripping the electrics.

If your dryer has tripped the electrics in your home, keep reading. In this article we look at all of the possible reasons and offer solutions to this annoying and inconvenient problem.

Why Does The Tumble Dryer Keep Tripping?

There are several reasons why your tumble dryer might be tripping the electrics which include;

Probable CauseSolution
Defective power supplyCheck the cable, plug and socket, replace if necessary
Clogged lint filterClean the lint filter
Blocked vent (if applicable)Clear blockage from the vent
Water tank full (if applicable)Empty water tank
Defective drainage pump (if applicable)Inspect and repair or replace the drainage pump
Defective interference suppressorReplace the interference suppressor
Defective heating elementReplace the heating element
Defective motorReplace the motor
Faulty control panelReplace the control panel
Faulty start capacitorReplace the start capacitor
Wiring faultContact a technician
Faulty thermal fuseReplace the thermal fuse
Defective circuit breakerReplace the circuit breaker

Before we get started, a quick word about safety; You should never start looking at electrical components if the appliance is plugged in. Always disconnect the power supply before tinkering with any internal parts of your dryer.

Also, unless you are an electrician, it’s best to resist the urge to start tampering with things that you don’t understand. We have heard of fully qualified electricians losing their lives when working on electrical appliances.

If in doubt, contact a fully qualified technician.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues and find out how to solve the problem.

Defective Power Supply

The first thing to do in the event of your dryer tripping is to inspect the power supply. Start by checking the dryer’s power cable, before moving onto the plug and wall socket.  The cable could have become frayed and is creating a short.

If so, the cable will need replacing before it’s safe to use the dryer again. We recommend contacting a technician to do this unless you are confident in your abilities.

It is possible that the plug or socket has heated up and started to melt. If this is the case, you should stop using the socket and the dryer. Contact an electrician to investigate further.

By the way, you should never use an extension cord with a power hungry appliance like a dryer or washing machine. If you do need to use an extension cable, ensure it has the correct amperage rating and never plug anything else into the same extension when the dryer is running.

Clogged Lint Filter

If the dryer starts working and then cuts out after a short while it could be because the lint filter is clogged. The first place to look is the lint filter itself which is typically located close to the dryer door.

Remove the lint filter and remove as much lint, fluff and hairs as you can. Then place the filter under fast running water to clear all of the last remaining remnants of lint.

If your dryer is a condenser dryer or heat pump model, check and clean all of the other filters (consult your handbook for more information on where the filters are located and how to clean them).

Blocked Vent/Vent Hose

If you own a vented dryer, the vent and vent hose can become blocked with lint that has been ejected with the hot air. This builds up until it eventually blocks the vent and/or the vent hose.

You will need to remove the vent hose from the dryer and then clear the vent and the hose.

If this was the reason the dryer tripped, it should work properly again once it has been cleaned.

Tumble Dryer

Water Tank Full

Condenser and heat pump dryers have reservoirs or tanks that collect the water extracted from the hot air as it passes through the condenser. If the water reservoir fills up, it can cause the appliance to trip the electrics.

You will need to empty the water tank and then get into the habit of emptying the tank after every use to prevent this from happening again.

Drainage Pump Issues

Heat pump and condenser dryers have drainage systems that require a pump to pump the water extracted from the hot air via the condenser up to the water tank. 

The pump could stop working due to either old age, over work or a blockage. If there is lint or fluff in the condenser or the pipes leading to the condenser or to the water tank the pump or hoses can become blocked.

This puts the pump under pressure which can cause the dryer to trip the electrics. You will need to get the pump checked out, but as this entails taking panelling from the dryer, we recommend contacting a technician to do this.

Defective Interference Suppressor

The interference suppressor or mains filter as it’s also called, is a large capacitor which is designed to prevent the dryer’s motor from interfering with other electrical components.

The mains filter can short out due to moisture which is more likely if your dryer is in a damp garage, utility room or outbuilding. You should inspect the mains filter for any signs of damage or burn marks.

If it looks OK it’s probably not the mains filter that’s causing the problem. However, if there are visible signs of damage, it will need to be replaced.

We recommend contacting a technician to do this for you because like all capacitors, the mains filter can hold onto an electrical charge even after being disconnected from the power supply. Also, you will need to dismantle the appliance to get to the mains filter.

Defective Heating Element

If the appliance trips the electric after it has started working, there’s a good chance that it’s the heating element that’s faulty. 

The heating element heats the air that circulates around the drum of the dryer to dry the laundry. When there’s a fault with the heating element, it can cause the electrics to trip.

To access the heating element involves removing the rear panel of the dryer and then using a multimeter to check whether the heating element has continuity.

If it proves to be faulty, it will need to be replaced and, as accessing the heating element involves removing the panels of the dryer, we recommend contacting a technician to carry out this work.

One Thing In A Tumble Dryer

Defective Motor

The motor powers the drum and the blower wheel which sends hot air into the drum. If the motor in the dryer develops a fault, it can short out which will cause the dryer to trip the electrics. 

Checking the motor involves removing panelling from the dryer and using a multimeter to access continuity. If the motor proves to be faulty, it will need to be replaced. 

This can be done by a confident DIYer but we recommend contacting a technician to do the job if you have any doubts in your own abilities.

Faulty Control Panel

The control panel pretty much controls every action carried out by the dryer. Like all components, the control panel can develop a fault which could cause the appliance to trip the electrics.

It’s not usually too difficult to remove the control panel which will enable you to check whether it’s functioning correctly. However, they are sometimes quite delicate and can easily be damaged when handling.

We recommend contacting a technician to investigate and replace this part if necessary.

Faulty Start Capacitor

The start capacitor starts the motor every time the dryer starts up. If you’ve ever watched the drum on your dryer, you will have noticed that it spins in one direction for a while, before stopping and starting to spin in the opposite direction.

Every time the drum stops spinning the motor cuts out. To initiate the opposite spin, the start capacitor has to spark power to the motor. Over time, these capacitors can develop faults which can in some cases cause the appliance to trip the electrics.

You will need to dismantle the dryer to access the start capacitor (which is usually located near the motor). As some disassembly is required, we recommend contacting a technician to do this.

If you decide to do it yourself, be aware that the capacitor can hold a charge even after the power supply has been disconnected so take care.

Wiring Fault

Like all electrical appliances, tumble dryers have a myriad of wires running through them. Any one of these wires can become burnt out or shorted. Which could cause the dryer to trip the electrics.

Due to the sheer weight of wires and connections found in a tumble dryer, this is definitely a job for a technician.

Faulty Thermal Fuse

The thermal fuse is a safety device installed in all tumble dryers to protect the internal components from damage if there is an electrical fault. Typically when the thermal fuse blows it doesn’t cause the circuit breaker or plug to trip.

However, if the thermal fuse is faulty, instead of blowing, it allows power to continue flowing which causes the circuit breaker or plug fuse to trip. The problem is one electrical fault often leads to another fault.

You will need to check the thermal fuse for any visible signs of damage and replace if necessary. Or contact a technician for safety’s sake.

Defective Circuit Breaker

If you’ve checked everything else and there’s still a problem, the only thing left is a faulty circuit breaker. Over time circuit breakers can become damaged, worn or weakened.

This is most definitely a job for an electrician and should not be tackled by a DIYer no matter how enthusiastic.

SEE ALSO: Does The Tumble Dryer’s “Capacity” Mean Dry Or Wet Laundry?

Tips For Maintaining Dryer Safety

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fix a dryer that keeps tripping the breaker?

To fix a dryer that keeps tripping the circuit breaker, you will need to check these components and replace if necessary; the heating element, motor, wiring block, mains filter, start capacitor, thermal fuse and if all else fails, check the circuit breaker itself.

Will a clogged dryer vent cause the breaker to trip?

A clogged dryer vent could cause the dryer to overheat which in turn, could cause the breaker to trip. If the circuit breaker has tripped on your dryer, you should check to see if the appliance feels hot to the touch as this is an indicator that the vent is clogged.

Is it safe to run a dryer without a thermal fuse?

It is not safe to run a dryer without a thermal fuse. The thermal fuse is there to prevent any damage to the internal components of the dryer. If it is not in place there’s nothing to stop the appliance from overheating and catching fire.

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