Dyers are a lot ‘smarter’ today than they’ve ever been. It used to be that dryers would simply deliver a constant flow of heat to your clothing for however long you’ve set the timer. Dryers today, however, are much more efficient thanks to newer, more high-tech components like dryer moisture sensors.
Simply put, moisture sensors continually check to see how wet your clothes are in the dryer. Once they’re dry enough, the sensor tells the dryer to stop working immediately.
While that does save you money in the long run, the dryer moisture sensor itself isn’t without its fair share of problems.
Some common dryer moisture sensor problems that you might run into include shutting the dryer even though clothes are still wet, continuing to run even when clothes are already dry, or the dryer being stuck on ‘Sensing’.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of these common problems to help you understand what’s going on with your dryer.
We’ll also look at common symptoms that people often face and tell you what that might mean for your dryer.
Let’s get to it!
What Is A Dryer Moisture Sensor And How Does It Work?
Let’s start with the big picture: what is a dryer moisture sensor?
As the name suggests, it’s a dryer component that focuses on measuring the moisture levels inside the dryer.
So, when you put your wet clothes inside it, the sensor will tell the dryer to deliver the heat necessary to dry them. Once the sensor detects that everything is dry, it’ll tell the dryer to cut off power and end the drying cycle.
As with most components, the moisture sensor can get fault from time to time, causing the dryer not to work as it should.
Where Do I Find The Dryer Moisture Sensor?
You can find the sensors in your dryer very easily. Typically, they take the form of two metal bars located inside the drum itself. Some manufacturers place the sensor in the same housing as the lint filter, so look in there.
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If you still can’t find it, the best thing to do is refer to the appliance’s user manual and look for a diagram highlighting its location. Don’t worry if you’ve lost the manual; some manufacturers upload digital copies to their websites for you to download.
How Does A Dryer Moisture Sensor Work?
As mentioned before, the moisture sensor typically consists of two metal bars. When your wet clothes touch the bar, it creates a certain electrical resistance that tells the dryer to continue working or it’s time to finish.
However, as clothes lose their moisture, that electrical resistance becomes bigger and bigger, telling your dryer to stop drying.
When there’s less moisture in the drum, the dryer’s timer will go lower and eventually stop entirely when the sensor finds that everything is dry.
How Do You Tell If A Dryer Moisture Sensor Is Bad?
When a dryer’s moisture sensor is faulty or connection to it, the problems that come from it can manifest in many different ways. Here are some of the most common symptoms that you might experience as a result of that.
Your Clothes Are Dry But The Dryer Keeps Running
That is probably one of the most common signs of a moisture sensor problem. If your clothes are already dry, but the dryer keeps running, you’ll need to stop the machine manually and take a closer look.
There are two possibilities here:
- The moisture sensor bars have short-circuited.
- The moisture sensor bars might have a buildup.
Remember: the sensor detects moisture when wet clothes cause an electrical circuit to form. If the dryer keeps running even when clothes are dry, that means something other than wet clothes is causing that circuit to form.
The first possibility is that the sensor bars may have short-circuited. That means that no matter how dry the inside gets, the sensor will still tell the dryer to continue working indefinitely because it thinks that there’s moisture inside.
If this is the case, then you’ll need to get the moisture sensor replaced.
Before you do that, inspect the moisture sensor up close. Using your fingers, touch the sensor to see if there is any wax-like buildup.
You see, sometimes, excess fabric softener from your clothes will build up around the sensors. Over time, they’ll form a waxy buildup that’ll complete the circuit at the sensor no matter how dry your clothes get.
If this is the case, all you have to do is wipe the sensors clean with a cloth and some water. You can also use rubbing alcohol to help clean off that waxy buildup and any other dirt that may be around the sensor.
Clothes Are Still Wet But The Timer Jumps Down To One Minute
Sometimes, the opposite can also happen. Even though your clothes are still wet, the dryer timer might jump down to an insufficient amount of drying time, like around one minute or so even though your clothes are still drenched.
Well, that’s a clear sign that your moisture sensor is still working, although it’s working inaccurately.
In simple terms, the dryer knows your clothes are wet, but they don’t realise how wet they really are.
Of course, this might be the result of a faulty moisture sensor. But more likely than that, the moisture sensor might be dirty, or its connections are a little bit loose.
Just as with the previous symptom discussed earlier, you can clean a dirty moisture sensor by giving it a good wipedown. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, just a tiny bit of soap will do.
If that doesn’t help, you can try to gently remove the moisture sensor and check that there’s nothing wrong with its wiring.
That should solve the problem, but if it doesn’t, it could just be that you need to replace the sensor.
Dryer Shuts Off After A Few Minutes
On occasion, the dryer might not even start a drying cycle at all! Instead, it might shut itself off after a few minutes even though it’s still full of wet clothes.
This isn’t a problem that’s uniquely caused by the moisture sensor alone. As a matter of fact, a blocked vent or a faulty door could also cause the dryer to shut itself off after a few minutes.
But if dryer vent is clear and the door works fine, then you might be dealing with a moisture sensor problem yet again.
Simply put, if the moisture sensor doesn’t detect any wet clothes, it’ll just shut the dryer off thinking that it’s preventing wasting of energy and stopping the machine from overheating.
That could be caused by a defect in the sensor, or it may just be so dirty that it can’t detect any moisture at all.
While you’re at it, make sure that you place your dryer on a level surface. You see, the moisture sensor is placed in a fixed location inside the dryer.
So if the appliance isn’t level, the sensor may never come into contact with the wet clothes, causing it to think that the dryer is empty.
Dryer Is Stuck On Sensing
Now, here’s a problem that’s unique to the moisture sensor. Suppose you load up the dryer and turn it on, and the screen says that it’s ‘Sensing’ or ‘Sensor’ mode.
That’s perfectly normal. But it’s only a problem when you find that your dryer is stuck on Sensing and never actually starts drying.
You see, dryers go into Sensing mode to figure out how much of a load it has inside and how much moisture it carries.
So, if it gets stuck in Sensing mode, that means that something has gone wrong with that process, and it can’t start the drying cycle.
At first glance, you may be dealing with a problem with the moisture sensor. Just like with previous problems, be sure to check and clean the moisture sensor and see if it works then.
If not, the problem might not be on the front-end with the sensor itself, but rather what it’s connected to on the back-end: the circuit board or controller.
If that’s the case, then troubleshooting and repairing will be a bit more complicated.
Is It A Good Idea To Bypass The Dryer’s Moisture Sensor?
When some people think that their dryer’s moisture sensor isn’t working correctly, they might feel tempted to bypass the sensor entirely.
Perhaps they do it to avoid having to pay for repairs, and because there are plenty of instructions available online on how to rewire the dryer to do it.
But let’s be clear about this: no, it is not a good idea to bypass the dryer’s moisture sensor.
The only time you might want to bypass the sensor is to troubleshoot a dryer that’s malfunctioning. Even then, this is something that only a trained professional should do.
Remember two things: one, your dryer is an appliance that generates a lot of heat. And two, the sensor’s purpose is to help the dryer decide how much heat to use with a load of clothes.
Without it, you’re exposing your dryer and your home to a lot of unnecessary risks. For starters, your dryer might continue to run even after your clothes are already dry, wasting a lot of electricity and costing you money.
In more extreme cases, excessive heat and dryness could lead to fires. Needless to say, fires in your home, especially in your laundry area, are extremely dangerous.
So, again, do not bypass the dryer moisture sensor.
DIY Or Call In The Pros?
Suppose you think that there’s a problem with your dryer moisture sensor. Should you try and fix it yourself or would you be better off calling in an expert to repair it for you?
Well, it really depends.
These days, you can find a lot of information online on how to fix the moisture sensor yourself. You might even be able to find instructional videos uploaded to guide you every step of the way.
Plus, it’s not that hard for you to find the spare parts you need online and have it delivered right to your doorstep.
There is one downside, though: you might have to go through a bit of trial and error before you get the moisture sensor to work correctly again.
All-in-all, doing it yourself will save you a bit of money and help you sharpen your DIY skills.
Still, there is a lot of value when you hire a professional to repair it for you. Remember: a repair person comes with skills, experience, and a fair bit of expertise. So, there’s very little need for trial and error.
When it comes to common problems with dryers and their moisture sensors, a pro has seen it all and they know exactly how to fix it!