Common Reasons Your Dryer Keeps Tripping the Breaker

By Nick Evans •  Last Updated: 05/10/22 •  9 min read

If your dryer keeps tripping your circuit breaker and you want to fix the problem, you’re in the right place.

Having a dryer in your home is a blessing we often take for granted. These powerful machines remove moisture from clothes and the result is a toasty towel or fresh-smelling t-shirts.

Unfortunately, dryers can trip your breaker and cause problems if you don’t figure out why.

We’re going to take you through common causes of a dryer tripping the breaker and their solutions.

We’ll also cover some tips you can use to prevent your dryer from tripping the breaker.

Read on to learn more and solve that breaker problem once and for all.

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Reasons a Dryer Keeps Tripping a Circuit Breaker 

Dryers can trip breakers for many reasons.

It can be something as simple as a faulty circuit breaker or an issue as complicated as internal dryer components malfunctioning. We’ll take you through some of the most common reasons.

Faulty Circuit Breaker 

Before checking your dryer and components within it, make sure you start with the circuit breaker. When circuit breakers trip, it’s not uncommon for it to be the fault of the breaker.

Circuit breakers become worn down over years of use, so having a faulty breaker is always the first thing you should check if you think something like a dryer is tripping it. You can determine if it’s your circuit breaker in a few ways.

First and foremost, consider the age of the breaker. If it’s more than 30 years old, there’s a good chance it’s the breaker causing your dryer problem.

On the other hand, you can also perform an amperage test. An amperage test is conducted with an amperage meter, which is a tool that measures the amperage along an electrical circuit.

To perform the test, make sure your dryer is running and measure the amperage from supply lines one and two. If at any point during the test the amperage drops below 30, there’s a good chance it’s your circuit breaker.

Circuit breakers are complicated units that protect your home from fires and electrical damage. While you can replace a circuit breaker on your own, we always recommend working with a professional to prevent harm to yourself or your home.

Bad Dryer Motor

Most modern dryers have a motor. The motor is responsible for the turning motion that happens in the dryer; some refer to this as tumbling.

It’s also important to note that the dryer motor is also commonly referred to as the drive motor. While it’s rare that these motors fail, after many years of use they can break. There are a few ways to tell if you have a bad drive motor.

First and foremost, you can check the bearings. If the bearings that hold the motor are loose or faulty it can cause the motor to become worn out. If the motor becomes worn out it can break and cause internal components to short.

You can also use a multimeter tool to check if there is continuity. If the motor lacks continuity you’ll need to replace the drive motor. Still, with a faulty drive motor, you’re better off replacing the entire dryer.

Heating Element 

The heating element is responsible for heating a dryer. It works by heating the air that circulates the dryer and ensures that your clothes come out warm.

Unfortunately, the heating element in some dryers can become damaged. When damage to the heating element occurs it can short internal components and cause the circuit breaker to trip. Luckily, you can test the heating element of your dryer without needing any help.

To test the heating element you’ll need a multimeter. A multimeter is a tool that’s used to measure continuity in an electrical circuit.

The goal of a test is to not have continuity. In most dryers, you’ll have to use the owner’s manual to locate the heating element and how to access it. If you can’t find your owner’s manual, you can always look online to find the make and model of your specific dryer.

When testing the heating element of a dryer, start by turning the dryer off. In fact, you should unplug the unit to ensure no power is flowing through it.

Then, remove panels from the dryer (see location in your owner’s manual) and connect the multimeter to the heating element. If the dryer has continuity you’re in good shape. On the other hand, if the heating element lacks electricity it’ll need to be replaced.

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Heating Element Assembly 

Every dryer also has a heating element assembly. The assembly is what houses the heating element. If the heating element shorts out or has electrical problems, it can damage the entire heating assembly.

Ultimately, a shorted heating assembly will trip the circuit breaker and result in electrical problems. Another problem with a faulty heating element assembly is that it can cause continuous problems for your dryer.

To test the heating element assembly, the process is the same as testing the heating element. You have to use a multimeter to perform a continuity test.

If there is no continuity then the heating element assembly is faulty. During this test, you should also test the heating element to ensure there is no damage.

Terminal Block

The terminal block is one of the most important components of a dryer. You should check this component after checking things like the heating element, heating element assembly, and thermostat.

The terminal block is responsible for sending power through the machine and to different locations when needed. If the terminal block becomes faulty it will send too much power throughout the dryer and trip the breaker.

The most common cause of a breaker becoming faulty is loose wires. There are tons of wires in the terminal block and even one wire that’s out of place can cause problems.

Therefore, make sure you check over this part of the dryer before replacing the entire dryer.

Bad Thermostat 

Most modern dryers have a thermostat. In dryers, the thermostat is responsible for setting the temperature for a dryer.

When working well, thermostats regulate and adjust the temperature inside of dryers. These devices work together with many internal components, especially the heating element. 

If a thermostat is faulty it can cause the dryer to pull more heat than needed and overwork the heating element.

In these situations, too much power can flow through the dryer and cause the circuit breaker to trip. You should replace the thermostat before proceeding if you notice it’s the problem.

Faulty Start Switch 

Another common problem that goes under the radar is a faulty start switch. Not all dryers have a start switch but if yours does it’s worth checking.

If a smart switch is left in the “run” position it will continue to draw power. Having your dryer automatically draw power is bad for your electric bill, dryer, anything inside the dryer, and the circuit breaker.

When start switches are left on it can also trip the breaker because of the continued flow of electricity. 

If you can’t find any problems with the circuit breaker and know it’s your dryer, it could be other internal shorts.

Dryers have many electrical components and any number of them can be tripping the breaker. For these reasons, we recommend reaching out to a professional.

How to Prevent a Dryer From Tripping the Breaker 

The best way to have your dryer not trip your breaker is to prevent the issue from occurring. To help, we have a couple of tips you can use to prevent your dryer from tripping the breaker.

Make Sure Your Circuit Breaker Is Working Properly 

Circuit breakers are wear items. A wear item is something that breaks down over time. While a good circuit breaker can last for 20 or 30 years, all circuit breakers need to be replaced eventually.

Depending on the age of your circuit breaker, replacing your circuit breaker can prevent future problems with your dryer.

Take some time to think about when you got your circuit breaker; if you haven’t replaced it in about 20 years we recommend getting a new one.

Also, if it was there before you got the home, we recommend replacing it to be on the safe side.

Use a Dedicated Outlet for the Dryer 

If your dryer shares an outlet this could be tripping the circuit breaker. When dryers share an outlet with other appliances, it can cause the amperage running through an outlet to increase. In the United States, most outlets have a standard amperage rating.

If an outlet is exceeding the allotted amperage, the circuit breaker will detect this and cut off power. In some cases, it’s as simple as removing other appliances from the same outlet as your dryer.

If your breaker is not tripping yet, we recommend removing other appliances from the outlet to prevent it from doing so in the future.

It’s Time for a New Dryer 

Having an old dryer can cause problems for many reasons. Older dryers also use more electricity because they weren’t designed to be energy-efficient.

Due to older technology and electrical work, older dryers can also cause power problems and are more likely to trip the circuit breaker.

In these cases, replacing your dryer and upgrading to a newer model can help you save money on your electric bill and prevent future circuit breaker problems from happening.

Applying these tips to your home can prevent a dryer from tripping the breaker.

Final Thoughts 

If your dryer trips your circuit breaker there’s no need to panic. At the end of the day solving the problem is hassle-free if you know where to look. If your dryer is tripping your circuit breaker make sure you check for each issue we covered thoroughly.

Remember, if you can’t repair your dryer yourself it’s okay to reach out to a professional. Another alternative to your dryer tripping the circuit breaker is to upgrade your dryer if it’s an older model.

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