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Why Does my Condenser Tumble Dryer Keep Stopping?

inspecting condenser dryer that stopped

Condensing dryers remove moisture from clothing without the need for a venting hose, by cooling the air in the drum and then releasing the condensed water down a drain or into a reservoir tank. Condensing dryers, aside from their drying technique, share many similarities with vented dryers. But like any other electrical appliances, are vulnerable to breakdowns and malfunctions from time to time.

One of the most common and frustrating faults is when your condenser tumble dryer stops during a cycle, before your clothes have dried. Of course, this is particularly annoying when you waiting on something important like a school uniform or work clothes, or have the next pile of wet laundry waiting to go.

Thankfully, tumble dryers cutting out before a cycle ends is usually a simple fix. Here’s a rundown of the most common causes and solutions.

Blocked Lint Filter

blocked lint filter stopping dryer from working

All types of tumble dryers – vented, condenser, or heat pump – contain filters or fluff trays that need to be cleaned on a regular basis.

Having a clogged fluff filter might lead to random shutdowns and overheating of your condenser dryer. Most modern clothes dryers will give you some sort of warning (a code, beep, light, or symbol) if the filter becomes heavily blocked and airflow restricted, which will cause your condenser dryer to stop running during a drying cycle.

It’s important to keep an eye on the lint filter in your dryer, as with the rest of the machine. Blockages can form rapidly in a tumble dryer because of so much dust, hair, and lint being blown through the system.

If your tumble dryer suddenly stops running, it may be because of a build-up of lint in the lint filter, which is easily remedied by cleaning it. This lint screen filter is usually built into the door frame in front of the drum – check your user manual to see how this is located, removed, and cleaned.

Solution: Clean and replace the lint filter as instructed by the manufacturer

Blocked Air Inlet

In order for your condenser tumble dryer to dry, it needs to cycle heated air through the drum, and across a condenser unit. The dryer breathes air in through an air inlet, typically located at the front base of the dryer. If this is blocked or obstructed then the dryer won’t be able to take in enough fresh air and may shut down mid-cycle. 

Solution: Check that all air inlet and outlet vents are clean, clear, and free of any obstructions. 

The Water Tank is Full

The water extracted from wet clothes is stored in the dryer’s water tank if your dryer is not plumped into a mains drainpipe. After each drying cycle, this tank should be emptied.

Condenser tumble dryers have a water tank that can overflow and cause the machine to shut down during the drying cycle. This water tank must be removed and emptied from the tumble dryer if it becomes full.

Solution: Remove the water tank from its housing on the upper left side of the machine and empty the contents down any sink.

Dirty Moisture Sensor

The interior sensor is an integral part of your condenser dryer, allowing you to precisely regulate the drying cycle with programs. It can tell if the clothing is wet, damp, or dry, and if they are, it will halt the cycle depending on which program is set.

However, after extended use, a thin coating of limescale, dirt, or detergent residues might form on the moisture sensor, giving the machine a false reading and premature end-of-cycle signal. These residues need to be cleaned off routinely to maintain the sensor working properly.

Solution: Open the dryer door, and use a coarse sponge to scrub the area around the sensor. The dryer’s moisture sensor is normally situated in the front, behind the lint trap and looks like a strip of metal. Steel wool and other abrasives should not be used, as they can scratch the sensor.

Broken Door Lock

When the door to a tumble dryer is open, the door’s electrical catch prevents the machine from starting up.

These are normally reliable, but if the catch or lock breaks or gets faulty, the door could pop open during a drying cycle. If this happens, the machine will sense the door open and stop drying.

Solution: Check to see if the door was closed all the way. If the door is closed but your device is reporting that it is open (for example, with an error code or led symbol), there may be a problem with the door lock

Overloaded Dryer Drum

Just like washing machines, tumble dryers have a laundry load weight capacity. If a washing machine has too much wet laundry in the drum, it won’t be able to spin at a high rpm, rinse or drain properly. If the weight of the laundry load exceeds the capacity of the dryer’s model weight rating, then it can go into auto shut off to protect itself from damage.

When a dryer is overworked, the overheated thermostat fails and the Thermal-Overload-Cutout is activated.

In the event of an overheated tumble dryer, the safety thermostat will open the circuit and prevent further heating. The most common cause of their activation is a decrease in airflow to the dryer, which in turn causes the dryer’s thermostat to kick on, stopping the dryer.

Solution: Reduce the laundry load. If you’re drying towels or other heavy items, they may be putting too much strain on the motor, bearings, or drive belt. Try taking a few heavier items out to dry in a separate load, and see if this lighter laundry load will complete the drying cycle.

Wrong Drying Setting

condenser tumble dryer wrong setting

Condenser tumble dryers have many drying cycle settings, from “extra dry” to “iron dry”, or a timer. If the dryer is on timer mode for 10 minutes it will stop after this time. If the dryer is set to “iron dry” without you realising it, the machine will stop quicker than you may expect and the clothes still damp, so you may believe there is a problem with the tumble dryer stopping, when in fact it’s simply on the wrong setting. 

The extra dry setting means a longer cycle time, to ensure bulkier items are completely dry. This setting is perfect for drying items like bedding and towels. With the iron dry setting, laundry is left slightly damp to make light work of ironing your garments but ends much quicker.

Solution: Make sure your condenser dryer is set up on the correct program, and check the cycle duration on the user manual.

Electrical Motor Problem

You can try turning the drum by hand if you open the door. The drive belt may be broken or damaged if the drum spins freely, without much resistance. If you suspect the condenser tumble dryer has stopped while driving because of a snapped belt or electrical motor issues, then contact the manufacturer service department or an appliance repair professional.

Why Does My Dryer Trip the Electricity?

Sometimes, your condenser dryer can cut out during a cycle because it is tripping an electrical breaker switch. When using a tumble dryer, it can be unsettling if the power constantly trips (shuts off).

The condenser box in your tumble dryer could become clogged with damp, soggy lint, fluff, and other clothing waste if it continually trips the electric circuit breaker. It’s vital that you switch off and unplug the dryer from the mains outlet and check that the lint filter, air inlet vents, and condenser box or completely clear for air to flow through unrestricted.

The interior of the dryer will be steamy and damp if the condenser box is clogged, as the humid air will not be condensed into water as efficiently.

Depending on the amount of moisture and the dryer’s brand, a “flash-over” can occur between a live component and neutral or ground if a particularly vulnerable section of the dryer gets wet. Because of this, a fuse will blow and the circuit breaker will trip.

Of course, this is just one of several possibilities that could be causing your tumble dryer to lose power during a cycle. If you suspect an electrical fault, contact a qualified electrician to inspect the appliance.