Clothes dryers are incredibly useful devices. If you’ve ever had to hang clothing on a line, you know this! They generate hot air and blow it into a rotating drum containing your wet clothing to dry it out. If your dryer works well, your clothes should be pleasantly warm at the end of the cycle.
There is an acceptable temperature range for dryers. They can’t be too hot or too cold. How hot should your dryer get, and what are the signs that you need a dryer repair? This is a more complicated question than you might think! Here’s what our pros have to say.
The Recommended Temperature Range
Dryer temperatures need to get hot enough to make the water evaporate from your clothes but not get so hot that your clothes get damaged or catch fire. Yes, it can happen if the sensors in your system fail! Each model has its own advertised temperature range, but the standard is between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the cycle.
If you have a model that’s older than the early 1990s, your dryer may get hotter by design. Regulations lowered the acceptable temperature in dryers for home use around this time. That’s why your grandmother’s dryer may work quickly, with a greater risk of clothes damage.
Commercial dryers and dryers with sanitation cycles can go beyond the recommended range for efficiency. Some can get as hot as 176 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why laundromat dryers work so well and why it’s so easy to get burned on the drums.
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Dryer Cycle Temperatures
Dryers have at least three temperature settings meant for different types of clothing. They’re usually labeled delicate, permanent press, and regular. Sometimes regular heat is labeled high heat or heavy heat.
You can think of these respectively as low, medium, and high heat. Delicate heat is meant for clothes sensitive to heat, like wool or silk. Permanent press heat is for everyday clothing. Regular heat, despite the name, is meant for whites, denim, and heavy items like towels.
The danger zones for a dryer malfunction are if the temperature is below 120° or above 150° unless the manufacturer designed your dryer for high temperatures or sanitation.
What Happens If My Dryer Is Too Hot?
When dryers get too hot, there is a risk of burns and damage to clothing. It also causes excessive wear and tear on dryer components. In extreme cases, a dryer that’s too hot could catch fire. Here are some reasons your dryer might be too hot.
This is the easiest thing to check. Lint buildup in your dryer acts like a warm blanket around everything by blocking the airflow. This is why you need to clean your lint trap after every cycle.
Also, your dryer vent needs to be vacuumed once a year for any escaped lint and to check for blockages. You might find some missing socks, and prevent a dryer fire!
Many dryers have two thermostats. The cycling thermostat is the main one. If it breaks, the heating element may overheat and scorch your clothing. One of our techs can use a multimeter to check if the thermostat is functional.
Another is the safety thermostat. Some dryers have one as a feature to keep dryers from overheating, but once it’s tripped, then it may not protect you in the future without replacement. A tripped safety thermostat is a sure sign that something is making your dryer too hot.
Bad Blower Wheel
The blower wheel moves hot air from around the element into the drum. If the blower wheel isn’t working, hot air stays under the drum. Our technicians can check the blower wheel for cracks or obstructions and replace it if it’s broken.
Finally, the heater itself might have a malfunction. Gas and electric dryers have their own systems. Servicing these should be done by a professional, especially gas burners.
My Clothes Won’t Dry. What’s Wrong?
No one wants a dryer that doesn’t dry their clothes. Forcing a dryer that’s too cold to run longer wastes energy and adds wear and tear to your dryer and your clothes. Some things we’ll check in a cold dryer include:
Thermostats control whether a heat source turns on or off. If it thinks the temperature is hotter than it really is, it may shut off the heater too soon. This is a common failure point for dryers as they get older.
The timer motor is part of your dryer’s control panel. If there’s a problem with it, it may not signal the heating element to turn on at the right time nor keep your dryer running for long enough.
If both of the above parts are working, then it’s likely the heater. If it won’t get hot at all, then it will probably need replacement.
Be Careful Measuring the Temperature Yourself
Sometimes people get curious about exactly how hot the inside of their dryer gets. We’ve even heard of people tossing in mercury thermometers into the drum with their clothes. We don’t recommend this for obvious reasons!
The air temperature in a drum varies over the length of the cycle, the heat level selected, the size of the load, how damp it is, the air temperature in your home, the airflow coming through the dryer, and the location of the thermostat inside the system. All these factors make it hard to get a precise measurement.
If you are curious about measuring the temperature of your clothes after drying, we recommend using an infrared thermometer over a few cycles and averaging the numbers. An average below 120° or above 150° means your dryer needs servicing.
Contact a Top Shelf Technician for a Diagnosis
How hot should your dryer get? The surest way to know you have a temperature problem with your dryer is if your clothes are too hot, the drum is too hot, or your clothes aren’t getting dry.
If you have these problems, contact Top Shelf Services. Our technicians will diagnose and fix the problem fast! Call today for same-day service.
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