Common Dryer Moisture Sensor Problems

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. 

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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.

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.

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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.

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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!

Reader Comments (26)

  1. My Maytag dryer is stuck on Sensing, can hear the motor, sounds stuck, but won’t turn. I replaced both sensors. Same thing.

  2. Hello my name is Tammy and my dryer is stuck on sensing it won’t even start can you give me some hints pointers about trying to fix it to see if I sent moisture sensor is gone bad

  3. I have a whirlpool WED5620HW0 2019 and keep getting E3 F3 code. One after the other. I reset as instructed and worked, Then it stops after 1 minute.
    Called technician and said it was the control board. Got a new part $$$$ for the model and dryer worked for 4 days. Now same code, E3 FE and stops after 1 minute. What could it be? I just want a working dryer! Any suggestion?

  4. I have a whirlpool cabrio platinum dryer. Any setting, even delicate and times
    D, not just auto displays “sensing” and will not start. I replaced the sensors and it still does the exact thing. Displays “sensing” and will not start. Do you think it is a faulty wire harness or a circuit board issue. Any help is appreciated. Thanks. Sue

  5. Hi, I have a whirlpool front load dryer. It was working fine but when the next load was ready to be dried it would start. The light saying wet was on tha. It goes to the sensing light. It counts down as if its on but than after a few minutes it says its done and the bell rings as if its done. Ive tried to reset and unlock and lock, we turned the circuit breaker on and off, checked all vent connections and steamer connection but still no luck. Am I missing something?

  6. Hi! I have a 6 year old Samsung dryer with a Sensor dry feature. Tonight I had 3 polyester throws in the 7.2 cu ft dryer. It was nearing the end of the drying cycle and I heard a snapping sound that happened every few minutes randomly and the snapping sounds were randomly louder and quieter. I turned out the lights and at the bottom hinge I saw a flashing at the time of the snapping sound. The switch is at the center top of the door. I checked the hinge, and the screws are all tight, and the door seems to be working normally. There are no black spots indicating arcing at the hinge, inside the dryer, dryer door or lint vent. There was no smell of smoke or electrical burning smell. The dryer is functioning perfectly except the sensor has always been unpredictable from the time we first got the dryer. I removed the three throws and tried to connect with Samsung. They felt that there was nothing to worry about but happy to connect me with a technician. I decided to put a single washer spun-dry throw into the dryer to see if the snapping continued. It did not. The dryer did not snap at all with either of the two washer spun-dry throws that I dried individually… following the 3 throws I dried together in which the snapping did occur. It made me wonder if the 3 throws could have built up static since no fabric softener or dryer sheets were used, the throws were almost completely dry and the dryer, while not overfull, was more full than with the single throw. I would appreciate your thoughts.

  7. Hi there, looking for some guidance. I have an older Kenmore electric dryer. First problem started with the dryer spinning but no heat, found a broken heat element and replaced. Then after little bit dryer would turn on and heat but no spinning, found a bad thermal fuse, placed it and all other limit sensors just to be certain (4 – two on heat element housing and two on the exhaust housing).

    Dryer functions but now the dryer will continue to heat and gets stuck on cooling and 1 minute on display and never finishes. It is hit and miss, sometimes it finishes and most times it get stuck heating (after playing with dry settings). Tried wiping clean moisture sensor but results vary.

    it appears to be (from what I’ve read) issues with the moisture sensor, is there any way to be certain?

    any guidance would be appreciated.

    • If the dryer is stuck on 1 minute, check:
      1. Make sure there is no heat on AIR FLUFF only, if there is heat, you have a stuck heater relay in ON position.
      2. Make sure dryer vents are clean

      • dont know why i didnt think of checking that before, i suspected a stuck relay on the board forcing heat. just checked it and that is the problem. Relay is stuck.

        Any way around replacing, I know sometimes tapping on it releases it.

        gonna look for the part to replace but any idea on cost???

  8. The heat turns on in my Kenmore Elite gas dryer when the clothes are dry however the heat does not turn on when the clothes are wet. Any thoughts? Thank you.

  9. I have a lg dryer model dle2532w.
    Yesterday it worked fine. Today I went and threw a load in and turned it on. It ran for a couple seconds and than turned off and the display started blinking than in about a min it turned back on same thing tho. What could be causing the dryer to all of a sudden not want to stay running?

  10. Drawstrings from swear pants and shorts keep getting caught under one of the sensors bars. One time one of the bats came unhooked on one end. I was able to put it back in place. The dry seems to be working just fine. But constantly have drawstrings getting caught cause multiple drawstrings to become tangled and clothes twisted together. Can this be fixed

  11. Hi
    I have a Maytag Dryer that has a steam element and this is spraying water into the dryer. I turned off the water shut off and unplugged it… still spraying??

  12. I unscrewed the lint houseing to clean out lint. Now my dryer keeps going from 38mins to minutes and shuts off. What did I do?

    • You disconnected (probably accidently) moisture sensor wires. Moisture sensor – 2 metal plates inside the drum, right under lint filter

  13. My Electrolux 5kg sensor dryer has been working well since 2014 and now the sensor isn’t working. I can see that the dryer runs normally but only blowing cold air when it is on sensor mode. I have just been using the timer 30min, 60mins and 90mins and that seems to blow hot air. What do you reckon the problem is?

    • I would check the continuity of the sensor plates and wires connected to it, to the main control board.

  14. My Speed Queen dryer gets stuck on 10 minutes on the sensor cycle and won’t advance. It won’t switch to cool down. It won’t stop even though clothes are dry. New sensor did not fix the problem.

  15. The dryer goes Off before the clothes are dry. While cleaning the sensor I noticed there is hair stuck in the sensor. Is that the problem?

  16. Thanks for a whole lot of how to do it yourself and save money. It’s worth spending a few bucks to get help from good professional technicians. That’s what I will probably do to get this Samsung dryer back in service.

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