Keeping Your Clothes Dryer Safe and Efficient
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Keeping Your Clothes Dryer Safe and Efficient

Keep lint out of dryer for efficiency and safety. Prevent fires fomr starting with dryer lint.

Those who use a clothes dryer in their laundry room are probably not apt to give up its use despite the escalating cost of electricity or gas. For most, the expense of operating this machine is far out weighed by the convenience. However, if they are not properly maintained they can add costs to their operation and be downright dangerous to operate.

There are a few simple steps you can take to keep them safe and efficient to operate.

Possibly, the number one item on the checklist most often overlooked is keeping the lint catcher clear of lint. Every time you dry a load of laundry, lint gathers on the lint screen. Where it comes from is anybody’s guess, but it is not the remnants of your lost socks. What it is, is a potential barrier to an efficiently operating dryer. When the lint trap is so filled with lint that air has trouble going through it, the dryer must work harder to dry your clothes.

If you have let the dryer run for an hour and your clothes are warm or hot and still damp, chances are lint is restricting the flow of air. This can cause the unit to overheat and wear out much faster as well as causing you to run it for another hour, adding to the cost of its operation.

Venting the exhaust, regardless of the heat source, is an important facet of dryer safety. Each model has an outlet, typically in the back of the unit, to which a convoluted exhaust hose is connected, leading to the outside. Without this hose connected, the heat from the exhaust is released into the area in which the dryer is installed, possibly releasing exhaust fumes as well. This is especially concerning with a gas dryer.

This exhaust hose can also be a source of accumulated dryer lint and should be cleaned periodically, typically about once every six months, sooner depending on the amount of laundry done in the household. There are small tools sold specifically for this purpose that can also be used to clean inside the area of the dryer in which the lint screen is located. These tools sell between $10 and $20, which is a relatively small investment in maintaining an expensive appliance.

These tools will have a long, slender handle with a brush on one end that, when fed into the vent area of the dryer, will enable you to rotate and latch onto to lint in the area, pulling it free and removing it from the dryer. This lint is flammable, as witnessed by many scouts, boys and girls, who have used it as fire starter for camping trips. Lint wrapped in an old nylon stocking makes an excellent starter for fires. The same can happen in your dryer at home if not cleaned out regularly.

Overloading the appliance can also reduce its efficiency, since it takes longer to tumble dry the load. Typically, a single load of clothes from the washer will fit in the dryer and you shouldn’t attempt to dry two loads of wet laundry in a single dryer load.

You also need to pay attention to warning labels on both washer and dryer as most caution against placing clothes in them containing combustible liquids. So, when you go to wash your clothes on which you spilled charcoal lighter fluid you will need to hand wash the liquids out of them before putting them in the washing machine and especially the dryer to prevent a home fire.


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Comments (5)

Nice job. Just one thing to add. No matter how often you clean the lint filters, lint has a way of finding its way inside the dryers case. Usually this happens as the dryer ages and the front drum seals wear, allowing lint to pass between the front of the drum and the front panel. You need to take the dryer apart and vacuum the case out at least once every six months. This is even more important with gas powered dryers because of the open flame.

Very informative article.

Good point Jerry.

Yes, Jerry - an excellent point. Unfortunately, many do not know how to remove the outer case from their dryer. While using the lint-cleaning wands deep inside the lint catcher, with the removable lint trap removed, will helpt exorcise most of the lint trappings, some will remain. You should also use this device to remove lint through the exhaust hose connection in the back of the dryer as well as in the hose itself, being careful not to damage the hose.

I agree Raymond except the wand will never touch the lint and household dirt that accumulates in the bottom of the case. I taught an adult ed class in major appliance repair for a couple of years and servicing a dryer, electric or gas, isn't beyond someone with average mechanical abilities. Service manuals are available online and so reasonably priced that anyone who intends to service their own appliances should have one.