3 Reason Why Dryer Only Works On Timed Dry – Troubleshooting Guide

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Plenty of dryer models on the market today come with Automatic or Sensor dry cycles. Those cycles rely on moisture sensors to automatically adjust the cycle’s duration. But why would those cycles fail, leaving you with only a Timed Dry cycle as a working option?

When your dryer only works on Timed Dry and not the automatic or sensor dry cycles, it’s likely because the load is too small. Dryers can’t measure moisture levels in small loads, leaving you with Timed Dry as the only option. Besides that, the moisture sensor might be dirty or faulty, or its wire harness has suffered damage.

Keep reading to discover why your dryer only works on Timed Dry and how you can get the automatic cycles to work again.

Why Does My Dryer Only Work On Timed Dry?

If your dryer has a moisture sensor but only works correctly on a Timed Dry cycle, here are the most likely reasons and how you can fix them:

Laundry Load Is Too Small

About this: Sizing your drier load correctly is vital for several reasons. Loads that are too large will overload the machine, and those that are too small will prevent it from functioning efficiently.

Instead, you should always put a medium-sized load into your dryer for the machine to perform optimally and give you the best results possible.

What it causes: When a dryer fails to work correctly on a Sensor Dry or Automatic Dry cycle, it’s not necessarily a technical problem. The components in your dryer are most likely functioning correctly.

However, you might have put too few items into your dryer.

Firstly, you must understand that the Sensor or Automatic dryer cycles rely on moisture sensors to function correctly. Those sensors are located towards the front of your dryer drum.

When your clothes tumble around and brush against those sensors, the dryer can sense how wet they still are and adjust the cycle duration accordingly.

However, a load that’s too small means there are too few items moving around in the drum. So, not enough clothing items won’t touch the moisture sensor and provide the dryer with the information it needs.

As a result, the automatic dryer cycle won’t work correctly. So the only way you’ll get a dry load of laundry is by using the Timed dryer cycle instead.

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How to fix it: You can solve this problem quickly by sizing your dryer loads correctly. So, let’s say you’re only washing a few small items (e.g. baby clothes or socks). In that case, you should add a few more items to make the load bigger and get the automatic dry cycle to work.

An easy way to do that is to add a few towels into your dryer load.

At the same time, refer to your user manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on correct load sizing to use the Sensor Dry or Automatic Dry cycle.

Read: Why Does My Dryer Take Several Cycles To Dry Clothes? – Troubleshooting Guide

Dirty Moisture Sensor

About this: As you read above, the Sensor Dry or Automatic Dry cycles rely on moisture sensors to function correctly. Your wet clothes will brush against the sensor, and that’s how your dryer knows if it needs to lengthen or shorten the cycle duration.

What it causes: Another reason your dryer only works on its Timed Dry cycle but not its automatic or sensor dry cycles is that the moisture sensor is dirty.

When the sensor is dirty, it can’t accurately measure how much moisture is left inside your dryer load. In other words, it can’t figure out how wet your clothes are and won’t dry them correctly.

That’s why you only get a dry load of laundry if you use the Timed Dry cycle.

As your clothes brush against that sensor, lint, dirt, and other stains will be transferred onto the moisture sensor.

That will cause the sensor to become dirty and malfunction, leaving you with no choice but to use the Timed Dry cycle.

How to fix it: Thankfully, dirty moisture sensors are very straightforward to clean. Generally, you can wipe a moisture sensor clean with a damp cloth. 

Then, use a separate cloth to dry and polish the sensors to maximize their ability to detect moisture.

Some moisture sensors will have exceptionally stubborn stains on them. You can use fine sandpaper to gently scrub the stains off.

Don’t forget to polish the sensors with a dry rag when you’re done.

Read: Why Dryer Smells Like Sewage?

Faulty Moisture Sensor

About this: Your dryer’s moisture sensor is mounted at the front of the dryer drum. Wires and electrical connectors ensure the sensor can communicate with the dryer’s other electronic components, sending electrical signals back and forth.

What it causes: Like many other dryer components, the moisture sensor can also become faulty. That could result from a manufacturing defect or an electrical fault that happened along the way.

Besides that, extended wear can also cause the moisture sensor to fail after many years of continued use.

Whatever the cause, a faulty moisture sensor will prevent you from using the dryer’s Sensor Dry or Automatic Dry cycle. As a result, your dryer will only work on its Timed Dry cycle.

How to fix it: This problem presents you with good and bad news. The bad news is that you can’t repair or service the faulty moisture sensor in your appliance.

However, the good news is that replacing the sensor is so straightforward that you could do it yourself.

Remove the moisture sensor from its place and detach its electrical connectors. Then, connect the wires to the new moisture sensor and push it into place.

Read: Gas Vs Electric Dryer | In-Depth Comparison

Damaged Moisture Sensor Wire Harness

About this: The moisture sensor communicates with your dryer’s other components through a wire harness.

The wire harness consists of several wires bunched together safely and securely. Bunching the wires together makes things easier for you, as you won’t have to worry about attaching multiple wires separately.

What it causes: The final reason your dryer only works on Timed Dry but not its sensor or automatic dryer cycles is because the moisture sensor wire harness is damaged.

Your moisture sensor and all other dryer parts might be in excellent working condition. But if the wire harness is damaged, the dryer still can’t use the moisture sensor to detect your clothes’ wetness.

As a result, only the Timed Dry cycle will function correctly.

How to fix it: The solution for this problem isn’t complex, but it can be time-consuming. You’ll have to replace the damaged moisture sensor wire harness by disconnecting it on both ends (i.e. at the moisture sensor and at the dryer’s control board) and plug in the new one.

That process will take quite some time as you’ll have to carefully remove all damaged wiring to replace them correctly.

Read: GE Electric/Gas Dryer Not Heating?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Check out these questions and answers you’ll find helpful for troubleshooting your dryer:

Can A Dryer Work Without Its Moisture Sensor?

Yes, you can still use your dryer without its moisture sensor. However, you can only use the timed cycles and not any automatic/sensor drying cycles. The dryer must have a working moisture sensor to run automatic/sensor cycles.

Should I Use Auto Dry Or Timed Dry?

You should use the Auto Dry cycle if you have a medium- or large-sized laundry load to dry. The Auto Dry will ensure your machine runs the cycle as efficiently as possible. However, small loads should only be used with a Timed Dry cycle, as the dryer won’t be able to measure the load’s moisture levels.

Is Automatic Dry Low Heat?

The Automatic Dry cycle will use low heat initially. The dryer will then adjust its heat levels as it senses the moisture levels inside the drum. The machine will switch between high and low heat depending on which is more efficient for a particular load.

Read: 5 Reasons Why Fisher Paykel Dryer Is Not Heating

Does Timed Dry Use High Heat?

Yes, the Timed Dry cycle typically uses high heat. However, this differs between dryer brands and models.

Does Timed Dry Dry Faster?

Not necessarily. How quickly your machine dries a load of laundry depends on its moisture content. For example, the Timed Dry cycle might take longer to dry the load if it has a high moisture level.

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