Is your dehydrator not working? You might be overloading it. Here’s 8 known issues & fixes.

Dehydrators are incredible machines. Not only are they extremely practical and relatively cheap, but also great at helping you make your foods last for much longer. What is there not to love?

Between the endless possibilities they open up, and how easy it is to use them, not owning one in this day and age, makes no sense.

Now, I’m not trying to sell you a new model. If you’re reading this, you probably already own one, and it’s failing. The last thing you need me to tell you is how great these appliances are. What you need are answers, and you need them fast.

There are many reasons why your trusty dehydrator might not be working. From something as negligible as food stuck to the fan, to situations a little more complicated, and concerning, like overheating and blown fuses.

Whatever the case, there’s one thing for sure. You need to fix the issue as soon as possible.

Normally, troubleshooting your appliance would be complicated, as you would need to do the appropriate research in order to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for.

Lucky for you, I’ve already gone ahead and taken care of it.

Below, I’ve prepared a list of the most common causes that would explain a malfunctioning dehydrator, and the easiest steps you can take to address each one of them. Rest assured that by the end of it, your appliance will be back to normal.

Are you ready? Let’s get to work!

Fixing a Dehydrator That’s Not Working

The first mistake I want to help you avoid making is spending your hard-earned money in repairs you might not need.

You wouldn’t believe how many people every year spend large amounts of money trying to repair their appliances, only to find too late that the issue came from their user habits.

Remember, a successful troubleshooting process benefits from detail and order. Going from general, to specifics, is a good idea.

Your dehydrator might not be working, due to:

  • Food overload
  • A disconnected heater wire
  • A faulty heating element
  • A broken thermostat
  • Food stuck in your fan blades
  • Overheating
  • A blown fuse
  • Tripped breakers

Now, the words “not working” are somewhat broad, so I’ll try to be more specific. Your dehydrator might not be turning on at all, or it might just be having trouble heating up.

In order to provide you with the clearest solution, I’ll divide the list above into both categories.

Let’s start with the temperature problem.

Dehydrator Not Heating Up

#1 You’re Overloading Your Dehydrator

Change your food’s distribution at the first sign of trouble

As I said above, we should start off by looking at the things you might be doing wrong while operating your appliance. You might not have to spend a dime.

The problem with overloading your dehydrator, is that your food will not turn out the way you want it to. Your appliance is designed to dehydrate a specific amount of food per batch. No more, no less.

It’s all a matter of precision.

Solution: If you still have it, you can go over user manual once again. In it, you will find the recommended maximum capacity per batch that you can prepare.

Provided that you constantly find yourself in the need to prepare larger batches for both friends, and family, it would not be a bad idea to check out bigger models.

Dehydrator Baskets With Food On It
Your dehydrator can dehydrate only a maximum amount of food in each batch. 

#2 Your Heater Wire Is Disconnected

Your heater wire might be disconnected or frayed

If none of the solutions above have worked for you, chances are your heater wire is either disconnected or frayed.

This wire is what connects your fuse to your heating element so that it can get accurate readings of the internal temperature in your appliance and blow when necessary.

As time goes by, or as a result of improper handling, it can come loose, disconnect, or break altogether, rendering your unit incapable of producing heat. If you suspect any of these situations to be the reason behind your dehydrator not heating up, you should address them immediately.

Solution: Remove the screws at the back of your appliance to expose its guts, but be careful, this component can get extremely hot, so please handle it with caution and make sure that the whole unit has cooled down before attempting any repairs.

Risks aside, replacing it, and finding a new one at any hardware store near you, should be very simple.

#3 Your Heating Element Is Faulty

Test your component for continuity

This is a very serious problem, and it could be causing your heating situation.

In case you’re unfamiliar with what this component does, it’s fairly simple. It transforms the electrical energy drawn from your wall outlet, into usable heat to dehydrate your food, which means that, at the slightest sign of failure, it will either not produce any heat or produce too much.

Solution: To check and repair it, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug your appliance and let it cool down
  • Locate the screws at the back and undo them with a screwdriver.
  • Remove the outer metal panel to expose your fan, fuse, heating element, and heater wire
  • Gain comfortable access to the heating element
  • Test it for continuity by using a multimeter
  • Replace it if necessary

If you’re a visual person like me, there are tons of online videos you can check out and follow along step by step.

#4 Your Thermostat Is Broken

Your thermostat might be failing

The last possible culprit in your heat generation problem could be your thermostat.

This component is solely responsible for both detecting and regulating the temperature inside your appliance.

You can think of it as the temperature boss inside your unit, and all the other components are its employees, following every order.  Being such an important part of your dehydrator’s operation cycles, the slightest failure can be catastrophic.

Solution: Follow the steps from the previous point to expose your thermostat, test it for continuity, and replace it if necessary.

Dehydrator Not Working

Now that we’ve covered the potential causes of the temperature generation issue, it’s time to move on to more severe symptoms. General malfunction. Either apparent, or real.

What do I mean by that? Sometimes, your dehydrator might look like it’s not working, when in fact, it is, but needs to be taken apart and reassembled, or cleaned.

Let’s dive in.

#5 There’s Food Stuck to Your Fan Blades

Clean your fan blades regularly

As you know, your dehydrator recirculates hot air inside its chamber to dry your food. If you clean your appliance regularly, this should not be an issue, but if you’re in the habit of waiting too long between cleaning cycles, some food could build up in your fan blades.

This is normally very easy to spot, given that, in most models, the fan is visible at all times from the outside. As soon as you spot some food residue stuck to it, you should clean it.

Moreover, even if you do clean your appliance regularly, this problem could still manifest itself. On some rare occasions, the fan blades could also be improperly placed, which could render them unable to spin.

Solution: You’ll have to go in by following the steps in point #3.

Gain comfortable access to your fan, and inspect it for damage or food buildup, then carefully reassemble or replace the part, making sure everything’s sitting tightly.

Following these steps regularly to clean your appliance will result not only in optimal hygienic conditions for operation, but also extend your appliance’s lifespan significantly.

Dehydrator fan blades
Check if the fan blades are positioned incorrectly, as this will prevent them from spinning.

#6 Overheating

Watch out for overheating in your appliance

This can happen for a number of reasons. Your fan blades could not be spinning properly, your heating element or thermostat could be failing, or you could be underloading your batches.

Whatever the case may be, this is an important issue and should be fixed as soon as possible.

Overheating will not only potentially burn the food you put inside your dehydrator, but also its internal components. Avoid using your appliance if you suspect this to be the culprit.

#7 You Have a Blown Fuse

Overheating might have caused your fuse to blow

This is usually a symptom of either overheating or a big power surge.

In case you’re not familiar with what fuses do, it’s quite simple. Their job is to “blow” and cut off all electrical continuity inside your appliance when they sense extreme temperatures, or large energy spikes. This protects your unit from further damage. 

Solution: Please follow the instructions from point #3 to access your appliance’s internal components, locate your fuse, and gain comfortable access to it.

Once you have done that, and if you have a multimeter, use it to test the part for continuity. Remember, if there is none, you need a new one.

As opposed to the other components on this list, the naked eye can easily spot a blown fuse, so don’t worry if you don’t own a multimeter.

All you need to be on the lookout for, are signs of a small explosion, such as blackening, and a broken filament inside the fuse’s glass body.

#8 Your Breaker Is Tripped

A tripped breaker might be the symptom of a greater concern

Being dehydrators such sophisticated appliances, it won’t surprise you to learn that some of them come equipped with their own breakers.

These components are in place to do the exact same job as the breakers in your home, preventing damage from overheating and large power spikes. If your model is equipped with these, and it stopped working right after a big blackout, chances are, this is the reason why.

Solution: If your model has breakers, you can easily access them from the inside of your appliance’s chamber. Just be careful, unplug your appliance and let it cool down completely before trying to do this repair.

Your dehydrator’s breakers should look like small switches. With the appliance still unplugged, flip them back to their original position. This should do the trick once you supply power to the unit again.

Conclusion

To have your dehydrator not work is not the end of the world, but it’s not the most convenient thing either. When this happens, you’re left with no chance of preserving your food the way you like it. Disastrous!

Luckily, more often than not, the most common issues can be fixed in the blink of an eye, either by cleaning your fan blades, or with the right replacement parts, and 30 minutes to spare.

Do not be afraid to try and do your own repairs. That being said, if at any point during the process you feel unsafe or doubtful, do not hesitate to call a technician. Keep safety as a priority at all times.

Thank you for reading. If you found this article useful, why not keep the learning going with our other wonderful resources below?

Bon Appétit!