In our busy lives it’s easy to overlook some of the basic maintenance steps that help many of the every day appliances we depend on run more efficiently and last longer. Check out the following tips to make sure your dryer is running smoothly, and if you have other home appliances that aren’t working as well as they used to, check out our Appliance Resource Center for quick fixes and maintenance tips for almost every major appliance in your home.
1. Wash Your Lint Filter
Make sure to wash the lint filter with soapy water and a brush every three to four months to remove invisible chemical residues that can restrict airflow. Here’s an easy test to see just how much of a difference this can make: take out your lint filter and remove any lint you see. Take the filter to your sink and run hot water over it. Notice how the water pools on the mesh and doesn’t drain through? That’s due to residue from fabric sheets, fabric softeners and laundry detergent ingredients which contribute to an unseen film or waxy buildup on the lint screen.
2. Replace Vinyl Exhaust Ducts
If your dryer has vinyl exhaust ducts, replace them with metal ductwork to reduce the risk of fire hazards. Although lack of maintenance is the major contributing factor to the start of dryer fires, poor installation and the use of improper duct material also play a significant role. A dryer’s lint filter catches only a fraction of the lint produced in the drying process and over time the lint accumulates throughout the dryer and the duct system, reducing airflow, which causes the dryer to operate at higher temperatures. This increases the chance of the lint catching on fire. After a fire has started, the draft from the dryer then forces the fire into the exhaust duct and, in many cases, causes a house fire. The probability of the fire spreading greatly increases with the use of plastic, or Mylar (foil) ducts, with plastic being the most hazardous.
3. Clean Out the Exhaust Vent
Once a year you should clean out the entire exhaust vent system. You will need to remove the duct line and clean it out with a vacuum attachment or long flexible lint brush. There is also the option to hire a professional HVAC specialist to do the cleaning. This may not seem important, but according to the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Data Center, dryers cause about 12,700 fires, 15 deaths, and $88 million in property damage per year.
4. Clean the Lint Filter after Every Load
This one seems like a no-brainer, but many times forgotten. It’s important to remove the lint on the filter after every load. . The more lint that builds up, the less efficient your dryer will run.
5. Wash In and Around the Dryer
Every two to three months clean the exterior of the dryer and inside the door opening. Be sure to use non-flammable cleaners for the dryer drum.You’ll also want to vacuum underneath and around the dryer. This area is prone to building up lint. Not following the required maintenance on your dryer can cause restrictions on air flow and force your dryer to run hotter and longer on every load, substantially impacting energy efficiency. Excess heat created by poor air flow can ruin your clothes, add dollars to your home’s energy bill and increase the wear and tear on your appliance.
6. Shorten Your Dryer Vent Hose
A short and unobstructed vent hose line will increase your dryer’s efficiency by reducing the distance the warm moist air has to travel to be vented out. Make sure you leave enough hose to pull the dryer out a few feet from the wall otherwise it will be much harder to clean or repair. This trick alone can get your clothes to dry about 20% faster.