Dryer maintenance is easy! Follow these tips to keep your dryer running smoothly and without error.

Clean the Lint Screen Before Each Load

It says so on a lot of dryer filters nowadays, but it’s still a mistake we see many people make. In addition to the lint screen, the dryer vent tube and household dryer duct should be cleaned once every year or two. Keeping the vent duct clear helps maintain a strong airflow and decreases the rate at which dryer lint can collect within the machine cabinet.

Lint building up in the machine cabinet decreases its efficiency but it also increases the potential fire hazard of the dryer. Lint collecting in the dryer cabinet or even the household duct work can lead to blown thermostats and thermal fuses. Dryer lint will clog the moving components like the drum rollers and idler pulley and the machine will begin and squeak and squeal. Run a dryer that way for too long and larger problems will surface.

Dryers with restricted air passages need longer run times for the same effective dryness. Many “long dry time” complaints are traced back to a restricted dryer vent duct. Sometimes the restriction is just in the dryer vent tube found behind the unit. However, I’ve found restrictions from the machine blower wheel to the screen on the very end of the household dryer duct. Clean the lint screen regularly before your dryer builds up an excess of lint.

It is for this reason I recommend using just one dryer sheet per dry cycle. If you prefer, you can eliminate the use of dryer sheets all together and use Dryer Lint Balls instead. Lint Balls can be found at most department stores. Dryer sheets can be sucked into the machine air duct during operation and clog the air blower wheel and using multiple dryer sheets in any one cycle makes it easier for the sheets to escape the dryer drum into the blower housing. When the blower wheel becomes obstructed the dryer makes a very loud humming and vibration noise. A stuck dryer sheet can produce this noise as can a buildup of lint on the blower wheel assembly, lint that builds up because it cannot exist the machine effectively.

Air flow is really the most important factor in the operation of a dryer. A dryer with no heat production can still dry clothes so long as there is sufficient air flow to remove the moist air from the system. Running a dryer without a heating element is inefficient and the dryer will need a long time to complete the task, but it will dry.

Don’t Overload the Dryer

Another tip to keep your dryer working better for longer, don’t overload the dryer. Overloading a dryer contributes to long dry times due to the restricted amount of airflow within the dryer drum. Because the dryer drum’s volume is taken to capacity, the clothing items don’t have enough room to move about the drum and the air within the drum has a harder time escaping the dryer via the machine air duct.

Overloading the dryer can also put greater stress on the dryer drum rollers, flattening them down and causing a very loud thumbing noise during machine operation, kind of like the sound a flat tire makes. If allowed to persist, the drum rollers can eventually break and the roller bearing can warp, greatly increasing the cost of a repair.

They don’t make any appliances the way they use to. A fellow technician named Dave (a 28-year Pro and my Primary Trainer) had a customer with a 12-year-old Kenmore dryer that stopped heating. Dave discovered the heating element and thermostat had blown. The heating element broke because of increased heat stress from operating the dryer with virtually 0% air flow. Dave’s customer had not cleaned the machine lint filter since they bought the machine nearly 12 years prior. They had no idea it was there and that they were suppose to remove and clean it after every cycle, no one ever told them as much.

I asked Dave, “did you tell them to get the air duct cleaned out?” Laughing Dave said, “Uhhh yeah!”

Nowadays many modern dryers have sensors that measure the rate of air flow through the machine. If the air flow reading drops below an optimum level the machine is designed to shutdown heat production. In some models, all motor movement will cease in the event of a restricted air flow fault! Another tip, a dryer vent duct should rise no more than eight feet above the machine and should run no more than 15 feet to the outside of the home and the duct should not have more than one 90 degree turn. I’ve seen long air ducts cause an air flow error even though the air duct was perfectly clear.

Vacuum the dryer cabinet and blower wheel housing. The condition of the dryer cabinet is a good indication of the air flow. A dryer with thick layers of dust within the machine cabinet and no obvious machine duct break is having a serious airflow problem. The wet dusty air is being returned back into the machine. Removing the dust buildup also helps maintain the machine moving parts like the motor, idler pulley and rollers which can be restricted with the lint dust adding friction to the system which will eventually break the affected components.

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