tumble dryer humming but not spinning with smoke

As an electrician with over 20 years of experience, I have come across many failed household appliances. Often tumble dryers tend to fail as they are operated in small damp enclosed spaces.

Many people don’t know that clothes dryers can be fixed quickly, cheaply, and fast. Often it will just be a $20 part that you can replace yourself.

In this post, I will show you how to diagnose and repair your tumble dryer that hums but won’t start. We will also cover many other common faults that occur regularly. These instructions are common for Whirlpool, Samsung, LG, Fisher & Paykel, Haier, Westinghouse, Bosch and many other brands.

Clothes Dryer Humming But Not Spinning

Clothes Dryer Humming But Not Spinning start capacitor

This is one of the most common faults I come across. I would say 90% of all dryer faults are that the drum is not turning but the dryer still heats up. This is often caused by a failed start capacitor on the motor or a broken drive belt. Both are very easy to fix.

These start capacitors are cheap and easy to replace. Any DIY handyman or woman can do it with a screwdriver and a socket set. You will need to disconnect the power and remove all of the screws holding on the rear dryer’s back cover.

The back cover and dryer drum can now be removed slightly to enable you access to the start capacitor and the drive belt.

You can check out our video below on how this is done to repair your clothes dryer.

Tumble Dryer Drum Hard to Turn By Hand

If your tumble dryer is hard to turn by hand you could have several faults such as

Tumble Dryer Drum Hard to Turn By Hand
  • Drum jammed with coins, felt, hair clips, screws, and other metal objects
  • Seized main drive motor
  • The drive belt tension wheel seized
  • Overloaded tumble dryer
  • The drive belt is broken and jamming the drum

Sometimes it will be obvious like coins or hairclips jamming the drum in the front. Other times you will need to remove the back cover to inspect the dryer drum assembly.

If the dryer won’t spin and the belt is not broken then replace the start capacitor. This will fail over time it’s just a matter of when. These capacitors don’t last forever.

Dryer Making Buzzing Noise While Running

Dryer Making Buzzing Noise While Running broken drive belt failed start capacitor

If your tumble dryer is making a buzzing noise while it is running then this could indicate an overloaded drum or a worn door seal. If the dryer is buzzing and the dryer drum is not rotating then you either have an overloaded drum, a broken drive belt, or a failed start capacitor.

Often I see clothes dryers that tend to make a lot of noise when they are running, more than normal. This is due to wear on the door seals or guides or the dryer drum.

If your clothes dryer is making a grinding noise when it is running then you have a foreign object jammed between the drum and the casing or the motor bearing has failed.

Tumble Dryer Won’t Spin Belt Not Broken

This is a perfect example of a failed starting capacitor. If your tumble dryer is just sitting there humming away. It is important to remove the back panel to ensure that the drive belt is not broken. If the drum spins by hand then the starting capacitor needs replacing.

Tumble Dryer Won't Spin Belt Not Broken removing start capacitor

Sometimes the start capacitors are hard to find but they will be cylinder in shape and close to the the drive motor. Remove it and replace it with the same type. This is an easy fix if your dryer is not spinning but heating up.

start capacitor on an electrolux smart dryer miflex
Electrolux start capacitor Miflex 8uF 425v

Different Types of Clothes Dryers

There are 4 different types of clothes dryers to choose from depending on your use and budget.

Gas Dryers

Once were very popular but slowly going out of fashion. They are cheaper to run than pure electric dryers and will heat up quicker than electric dryers. In terms of cost, they are more expensive to purchase than a standard electric dryer.

Electric Vented Dryers

These are the cheapest and most popular dryers you see around. They do use a lot of electricity so keep that in mind if you are using it a lot.

They are light enough to mount on a wall and can be mounted upside down without any issues.

Condenser dryers

Condenser dryers store moisture instead of sending it out as exhaust. This means they are a great option if you want a dryer, but don’t have a well-ventilated space to keep one in. Such as a small laundry with no windows or exhaust fans.

Condenser dryers still use an element to heat your clothes so they can be dried. But instead of venting this moisture into your home, the machine collects it for storage in a bucket. The dryer then only discharges dry, warm air. The benefit is the heat exchanger cools the air and condenses the water vapor into either a drain pipe or a collection tank. So no moisture in the laundry.

A condenser dryer is limited in how much evaporated water it can hold and you have to empty the storage unit after every load.

Condenser dryers are not very energy efficient and similar in energy usage. They are more complex and have extra parts that can fail over time. Heat pump dryers are more energy efficient.

Heat Pump Dryers

Heat pump dryers work by heating the air and then using it to remove moisture from the clothes. The clothes dryer then recycles this heat once the moisture is removed. Reusing this heat rather than releasing warm, humid air through a dryer vent into the atmosphere makes it cost-effective. A heat pump dryer sends this warm humid air through an evaporator to remove the moisture without losing too much heat. Heat pump dryers use refrigerant as part of this process. This means less electricity usage and cheaper power bills.

Heat pump dryers are easy to install since they don’t require ventilation.

  • Heat pump dryers reduce energy use by at least 28% compared to standard element dryers.
  • Dries laundry at low temperatures, so they are gentler on clothes. But have longer running times.

What is the most reliable clothes dryer?

In my opinion, the Westinghouse and Electrolux are very reliable clothes dryers. They are easy to work on and tend to be very popular. Not to mention they are cheap.

These two tumble dryers use parts that are readily available and are well made. Many other brands especially the Chinese ones are made too cheap and tend to fail after a few years.

Stick with well-known brand name dryers and you should have many years of use. In fact, in my family, we use Electrolux Tumble Dryers every day and they tend to last around 8-10 years before something fails. Considering a tumble dryer averages 2 hours of use per day that is over 730 hours per year of 7300 hours of use over 10 years.

In our household, we have 9kw of solar panels on our roof, so running a clothes dryer is cheap. It is free power during the day. This is why I prefer to use the cheaper electric vented dryer rather than gas or an expensive heat pump dryer.


Clothes dryers are one of the most used appliances during the winter. If you maintain them correctly they will last many years.

Keep the lint filter clean by disposing of the lint after every load. If you are using a tumble dryer in an apartment be sure to vent the moist air to the outside. This will prevent mold build-up in the laundry room.

Having a dryer wall plate adapter either in another room or outside will help your dryer be more efficient and cut down on moisture in the laundry.

If your tumble dryer doesn’t spin then replace the starting capacitor as this is one of the main reasons dryers fail. If the dryer is making a buzzing noise while running then it is often a start/run capacitor that has failed on the motor.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any other electrical problems and I will try and help.

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