Clothes Dryer Maintenance Questionnaire

ByMarc Silberberg


We know you probably will think we are referring to someone else not you about good maintenance of your clothes dryer. That’s usually the case for folks who are sensitive to criticisms especially if you believe you are diligent about keeping your clothes dryer in tip top shape by not letting strangers or outside help use it and always cleaning the lint trap after each load. However, this is not quite the full extent of good dryer maintenance because like any sophisticated machine there are many aspects of keeping it in good working order that can be done by homeowners themselves while decreasing the number of times a professional will have to be consulted.

Many of us may choose to look at our dryer as a short-term investment and when it breaks down and the cost for repair is expensive, we may decide that it is financially appropriate to purchase a new and up to date version. Beware, as with most other manufactured items the new is not nearly as good as the old. Now we do not mean ancient, but if your dryer is less than ten years old and is not overused it should not have to be replaced that soon. Please open your minds and see if you pass the test of all the following maintenance questions and answers other than cleaning the lint trap. See how you score, but unfortunately unless you have a perfect score you are not giving your dryer the care it deserves.

1. Did You Ever Think Of Cleaning Your Dryer Drum?

Giving the drum a good cleansing will keep your laundry cleaner when it comes out. If you’re like me and live near the beach, chances are you have found sand in your lint trap in the summer. There can very well be some residual sand in the drum as well and the only way you will know is by cleaning it often. If you don’t find sand, you may come across bits of pet hair or remnants of candies and gum stuck onto the drum that were inadvertently left in the pockets of your innocent children. Included in this maintenance rule is to check those pockets before placing clothes items in your washer.

How to clean the dryer drum? First wipe the inside with a soft damp rag. If you feel some rough or sticker stuff a more serious cleaning is in order. You will need to find some old towels to throw into the dryer. Put the dryer on and let it warm up for a few minutes and then with a rubber spatula scrub off that gum or candy. Again, wash the drum with a damp rag and dry it off to get rid of any wetness.

2. Did You Know That If You Are Tempted To Stuff In Too Much Laundry The Machine Motor Can Burn Out?

One may think that the worst that could happen if your dryer is overloaded is that you will have to put it in for a second spin. Besides for damaging the motor there could very well be an increase in your electric bill since the machine will keep pulling energy in order to function efficiently. So, don’t think you are saving money by condensing the amount of loads you put in the dryer but just the opposite. In fact, professionals advise to fill the dryer only halfway unless you are drying a lightweight comforter that will take up the room but not the weight in the dryer.

3. Did You Know That Cleaning The Lint From Your Dryer Is Much More Than Just Emptying The Lint Trap?

Yes, the first step in lint removal is to clean your lint trap after each dryer tumble, however, there are many other places in your machine where lint can accumulate, hinder dryer performance, and become a fire hazard. The small lint trap cannot possibly collect and control all the lint that is being produced from the many loads of laundry. This is especially true when underwear and towels are dried multiple times a week. Some lint will move around the sides of the filter and very tiny specks can go right through it. Normal amounts of lint collection on the outside of the lint trap are unavoidable yet you have to clean it regularly to avoid fire.

How to clean the lint screen? First, vacuum the inside of the lint receptacle and lint trap as best you can. Now you are ready to give the lint trap a bath in a sink or pail full of hot soapy water. Second, wash and try to get off all the lint by scrubbing with a brush. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth. Do not attempt to put the filter back into place until it is 100% dry and this may take overnight so make sure you do not need to dry a load that day and evening.

How to clean around the lint screen? When the dryer is cool, take a flat brush or a vacuum attachment to remove trapped lint around the outside of the lint trap. This will keep proper air flow to and from the lint trap.

4. Have You Checked The Exhaust Hood Lately?

The exhaust hood is connected to the dryer usually through an outside opening or window and should have an airflow push of 1,500 feet per minute. No one expects you to be able to evaluate your dryer’s exhaust output but there are ways to know if it is working properly such as, you feel hot air coming out, notice the clothes are not drying sufficiently for the amount of time you set the dryer, hear it making funny noises or notice a burning smell as the dryer turns. You must vacuum the exhaust duct every year to prevent the lint from building up and causing the above problems.

5. Does Your Recently Purchased Clothes Dryer Have Sensors?

Some of the newer model dryers include sensors which can determine if the clothes are dry yet. However, there must be a certain amount of laundry in the dryer to set the sensor working. Also, the sensors will not perform properly if the dryer drum is not cleaned every few months.

6. Have You Ever Heard of a Dryer Heat Exchanger?

The heat exchanger can get clogged with lint circulating in the air. This part should be cleaned at least four times a year or every three months. Some dryer models do have indicators which flash, buzz or light when the heat exchanger needs cleaning. The power plug must be removed to prevent shock and then gently press the top part of the heat exchanger cover (if you aren’t sure where it is located check the manual). After unlocking the levers remove the inner cover and clean the exchanger with a cleaning brush that should be provided by the manufacturer. The brushing should be done in an up and down motion so as not to damage the delicate fins. If you have this type of flat attachment to your vacuum cleaner, you can use it very gently. Before reinstalling the inner cover, wipe and clean with a smooth rag. Then place all covers into their original positions.(It would be wise to take some pictures on your camera as you remove the covers so you will know how to put them back properly).

7. Have You Avoided Looking Behind Your Dryer Because It Is Too Difficult To Get To?

Every three months you should clean behind the dryer even if it means moving the dryer manually. This is because no lint trap or exhaust pipe can pick up each and every piece of lint and I can certainly attest that there was a buildup of lint behind my dryer. This action is imperative as it is dangerous for wet or dry lint to stay behind the dryer causing fire and corroding of the clothes dryer. Once you open up the space behind the dryer it shouldn’t be too difficult to vacuum the lint and dust. If the lint becomes wet you may have to manually remove it but it is worth it since this process will extend the life of your dryer.

Final Words

Properly maintaining a clothes dryer is more than cleaning the lint trap after each use. The lint trap itself is the most apparent place for lint to be found but there are many other parts of the dryer such as the dryer drum, exhaust hood, heat exchanger, and behind the dryer where lint hides. How often these parts need to be cleaned is totally dependent on how many loads are done per day and the age and type of clothes dryer you own. These parts can be cleaned by the owner themselves if they use the right implements such as brushes and clean, soft cloths. If the vacuum has a crevice tool it may be helpful as well. But if you find that the above answers did not help your dryer’s efficiency it may be time to call in a professional dryer vent cleaning service.

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