I had made plans to pull LED backlights out of old LCD screens, and even bought a dedicated LED backlight tester to aid in my adventure. But before I could embark, daily life interrupted in the form of a clothes dryer that would no longer spin up. Since this problem has a very immediate effect on my life, it has priority over salvaging LED backlights. While I am not an experienced appliance repairperson, this is not my first time poking into my laundry machine. A few years ago I dug into the washing machine that paired with this dryer.
When I press the Start button, I hear an electrical buzz that I associate with the dryer motor startup sequence. Typically this buzz would only last about one to two seconds before it fades and sounds transition to mechanical noises of the dryer drum spinning up. Once the drum starts spinning up, I could release the Start button and let the machine execute its selected drying cycle.
But now the buzz continues for as long as I hold down the start button, and the dryer does not transition to mechanical spinup noises. This is intermittent. Occasionally the drum would start as normal, but most of the time it would just buzz for as long as I hold the start button.
Process of Elimination
Electrical Power: since the dryer would occasionally spin up, I decided this was not a power failure issue. One of the more common reasons for the dryer to not start is a thermal fuse. But if that thermal fuse has blown, I would expect no buzzing noise and certainly no occasional spin-up.
Electrical Control: Due to the occasional spin-up, I also decided the control system is probably OK.
Mechanical: One hypothesis is that I have a mechanical obstruction somewhere, and depending on the position of the drum relative to the obstruction, the motor would have a harder time starting up. I spun the dryer drum by hand and detected no such obstruction.
Natural Gas: The heat source for the dryer is natural gas, but since the machine never makes as far as flame ignition I doubt that subsystem had anything to do with my problem.
Electromechanical: That left the motor as the prime candidate for this problem. Specifically, I suspect one or more of the motor capacitors have failed with age. They are critical to the motor startup sequence. The buzzing noise and inability to spin up hints at the starting capacitor.
I like the starting capacitor hypothesis, a target to look for as I open up this machine.