Young woman with a laundry basket looking at a clothing rack dryer and holding her head in disbeliefThe number one solution is a dryer vent cleaning. The cause of a clogged vent is the subject of conversation at many kitchen tables around the country. Some insist the vent is clear because the vent from the dryer to the wall is fine. Unless something crushed the vent and blocked all airflow, there is another reason. Let’s find out.

Of the two popular styles of dryers, the most forgiving type has the lint screen accessible from the top. The other type is inside the dryer at the front. Top mount lint screens perform better and have a lesser chance of a dryer fire because the heat source is at the back of dryer on the side opposite the lint screen and sits vertical and off the floor of the dryer.

The inside lint screen style sees the heater on the right side, mounted on the floor. Unvented lint falls on or hear the heater and can build up quicker, creating a higher likelihood of a dryer fire if the vent remains restricted or blocked. Note some dryers have their lint screen mounted to the dryer door, but they’re uncommon, so I didn’t include them in this discussion.

An Easy Way to Check for Blocked or Restricted Air Flow

Now is a good time to contact one of our certified techs here at Neli to guide you through this test. We can use our exclusive Virtually There™ camera sharing app to guide you through every step.!

Be VERY careful performing this test. Moving dryer drum! Do NOT touch! Perform this test at your own risk. We cannot be held responsible for pinched fingers or worse. Wear protective gloves. If you don’t think you can do this, please, skip it and read the section below about an alternative way to check for airflow issues.

I’ll let you in on a technique I’ve used my entire career as a technician. I call it the dollar bill test. (This test works only for inside-the-dryer lint screen style dryers) But, because I’m a tech and rarely have a dollar bill handy (😊), a piece of typing paper works great! The idea of the test is seeing how much vacuum or suction gets created when you run the dryer with the door open and place the paper over the slot for the lint screen (remove the lint screen before starting the test!).

You must figure out how to hold down the door interlock switch and turn the dryer on while holding the paper on the lint screen slot. Ask for help if needed. Place the timer or settings on “timed dry” or any cycle, kneel in front of the dryer, hold in the door interlock switch (the switch the door contacts when it’s closed), then press START on the dryer. Again, be very careful here because the dryer drum should be turning. Do NOT touch the moving drum for any reason!

A look inside an empty dryer w lint screen visibleHold the paper in your hand and place it directly on top of the lint screen slot (remove the lint screen first) and observe what happens. If the paper gets drawn onto the slot, your air flow is good. If the paper doesn’t get sucked onto the slot and falls away, there’s blocked or restricted air flow. It’s causing your long dry times.

With a top-mount lint screen, the technique is easier. Remove the lint screen from the machine, turn the dryer on any cycle, then place your flat hand a few inches inside the slot while the dryer runs. There’s little danger of hurting yourself because there are no moving parts.

Feel for air flowing through your fingers. If it feels like a fan blowing on your hand, air flow is good. If you feel no or very little air flow, you have restricted or blocked air flow. You know what that means, right? Remember, blocked or restricted air flow is the number one cause of long dry times.

Alternative Way to Check for Air Flow Issues

If you don’t feel confident about using my technique outlined above, a simple and quick technique is finding where your dryer vent exits your home. Turn the dryer on and feel for air flow there. If there’s no air flow, it’s obvious there’s a restriction or blockage somewhere in the vent.

It may surprise you to find the vent screen blocked. Remove it by unsnapping it and clean. Check the air flow again. It it’s robust and flowing, you’re in business! If not, see below.

Isolate the vent by removing it from the back of the dryer and dry a small load of towels (two or three bath size). The dryer will run louder than normal but will have full air flow to dry the towels. Note: expect a fair amount of lint blowing around the laundry room until you reconnect the vent!

Less Common Cause of Long Dry Times

A clogged vent is by far the most common cause of long dry times, but other reasons cause identical symptoms. Here’s a list:

  • If clothes can’t move, they will not dry and present symptoms similar to a clogged vent
  • Intermittent dryer timer contacts
  • Secondary heater or thermistor failure in some dryers
  • Hold and assist coils (gas dryers only)

Wooden Blocks Spell Final ThoughtsMany reasons for long dry times exist, but as I’ve said, a clogged vent is the likely cause in most situations. If you’ve done your best to solve the problem with no luck, don’t get frustrated. Go online to Neli and one of our certified techs would enjoy helping you. No stress, no mess. Just plain answers to your home appliance repair questions. We’ll talk soon!

If you liked this article, please fee free to leave a comment below. Do you have a special request for us to write about? Let us know and we might include it on this website! Also check out this article for more information on getting the most out of your dryer.

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