How to Fix a Tumble Dryer Making Noise but Not Turning

tumble dryer making noise but not turning

Your tumble dryer goes through a lot on a daily basis, especially if you have a large family. It can be frustrating when they break down but sometimes it’s just a simple fix.

We will be looking into why a tumble dryer makes a noise but doesn’t turn. This is one of the most common faults on a dryer.

Most of the time its because the capacitor has failed or the belt has snapped, although it can be caused by a few other things.

Before you start to investigate your broken dryer or try to carry out any repair work, it’s important that you isolate it from the electrical supply for safety reasons.

Here’s why your tumble dryer is making a noise but not turning:

The belt has snapped

It’s very common for a tumble dryer belt to snap because they are made out of rubber and if they come off the pulley then they can get caught in the motor and get chewed up.

belt from a tumble dryer

It’s quite easy to diagnose a tumble dryer with a snapped belt. You need to remove the screws that are holding the lid in place at the back of the machine and take the lid off.

You might see the black belt at the top of the machine wrapping around the drum. If you pull the belt and you can remove it from the machine, then the belt has definitely snapped.

If you can’t see the belt around the drum then it’s probably snapped, this is because it has dropped down inside the machine.

The noise you can hear when you press start on a drying cycle is the motor turning, this will still happen even if the belt needs to be replaced.

The capacitor has failed

Nearly all tumble dryers are fitted with capacitor start and run motors. This means that for the motor to receive power and turn it needs to have a capacitor that powers it.

7uf capacitor from a tumble dryer

The capacitor is usually located close to the motor and on some models, it will be direct bolted onto the motor housing.

If you press start on a drying cycle and you can hear a buzzing noise, but the drum doesn’t seem to be turning, it’s because the capacitor has failed, and the motor isn’t receiving enough power to turn.

Luckily the capacitor is one of the cheaper parts to replace on a dryer and depending on the model number of your machine you can usually pick one up for £5 – £10.

The bearings have collapsed

The bearings on a tumble dryer are located at the back of the drum and allow the drum to turn freely and smoothly during a drying cycle.

copper bearing from a tumble dryer

Over time they wear down and eventually, the bearing will collapse, and this might even mean the drum will continue to turn and shear through the back of the dryer.

The bearing on a tumble dryer is different from the bearings that you find inside a washing machine, and they are usually made from copper.

A sign that the bearing has failed is if you pull your tumble dryer out and look at the back you might see some brown or black powder all over the floor where it’s been operating. This is because the bearing has ground down.

Some dryers have easily replaceable bearings and it’s just a case of unscrewing the back cover and swapping it out. On some dryers, the whole drum will need to be replaced.

The pulley wheel has snapped

The pulley is what keeps the tension of the belt and allows the belt to turn in a straight line while the drum is rotating.

pulley wheel taken from a tumble dryer

Sometimes the pulley wheel will snap because they are made from plastic and they also have a bearing inside the wheel which can collapse and fail.

The pulley should be close to the motor and will usually be at the side of the machine. If you remove the side cover, you can usually see the pulley wheel giving tension to the belt.

If the belt feels loose at the top of the drum but it hasn’t snapped then it’s probably because it’s come off of the pulley.

Replacing the pulley can be difficult depending on what dryer you have because you have to fit the belt back on which requires a lot of strength due to the tension needed for the belt.

Something is stuck inside the drum

If you open the door of your dryer and look towards the back, you should see a grill with some holes in it.

This is where the warm air from the heating element is pushed into the drum so it can dry your clothes.

Items of clothing like bra wires can get lodged through one of the holes and cause the drum to get stuck.

If your dryer has been making a grinding noise recently it might be because there is something lodged in the drum at the back and the drum can’t turn.

If you do find something stuck in the drum, you can usually pull it back out with some pliers, but you have to be careful to not let it drop down the back because it can cause more damage to the machine.


That’s everything you need to know about a tumble dryer that is making a noise but not turning.

Here is a short recap of everything to look out for:

  • Check if the belt has snapped – This is one of the most common reasons for the drum to stop turning on a dryer
  • Make sure that the capacitor is working – If your dryer is making a buzzing noise and not turning then its probably because the capacitor needs to be changed
  • Inspect the back of the machine and look for any signs that the bearings have failed – When the bearings fail on a tumble dryer the drum will stop turning but the motor will make a noise because it’s stuck and trying to rotate
  • Take a look at the pulley wheel – The pulley is what gives tension to the belt so if the belt hasn’t snapped but it feels loose then its probably because the pulley wheel has broken
  • Check for any obstructions inside the drum at the back – The holes on the back grill are a place that bra wires can get lodged which stops the drum from turning

If you need any more information on why a tumble dryer might stop spinning, regardless of if it’s making any noise or not you can check out our handy guide.