Calling a repairman to fix your dryer can be expensive. Ask me – I made that call this morning. And, while mine needed a fuse to resurrect it to life, basic maintenance can reduce not only the number of visits your dryer gets by professionals, but reduce the risk of fire in your home.
An amazing 17,000 house fires were caused by poorly maintained dryers in one year alone, and studies show that just over 30% of those were due to lint build up.
Lint builds up in four primary places inside your dryer: the vent area, the interior cabinet and the lint filter. These can be cleaned easily with little or no accessories. The final area, the space below the lint filter, also needs cleaning. If lint buildup is severe, however, it will require … you guessed it, the repairman.
Clean the lint filter after every use. Lint from drying clothes is directed by the action of the machine into this area. It builds up quickly, and must be checked often. By cleaning it after every use you eliminate fire and clogging risk from this area. Residue from fabric softener can build up on the filter, reducing its effectiveness. If that happens, simply clean the filter with a bristle brush, detergent and water. If the lint filter becomes torn, replace it. A torn filter allows lint to enter the body of the dryer, increasing the chances of a more serious problem.
Even without a torn filter, lint will slowly build up inside the interior cabinet. Once a year pull it away from the wall, remove the back and vacuum out the cabinet. While you have the dryer away from the wall, clean under the dryer, as well. Put the back on, push it back in place and you’re good for another year. Pick a time you will remember to repeat this maintenance; April 15, for example, is an easy date to remember. (You can also clean the dryer vent and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on this same day.)
The vent and vent hose are the final areas of maintenance for your dryer. This also only requires a yearly cleaning, unless the dryer is used more frequently than average. First check the vent hose. This should be an aluminum hose. The white vinyl type used several years ago can actually catch fire and lead to larger problems. Pull the dryer from the wall and remove the vent hose. Clean it out, making sure to collect and dispose of the lint you remove. Vacuum out the vent opening in the back of the appliance, and the vent opening in the wall. Never push lint back into the dryer or wall. This can cause clogs and, again, increases the likelihood of a house fire.
The area beneath the lint filter, the chute, can be cleaned fairly well with a vacuum cleaner. Choose the attachment that will fit furthest into the chute and clean once a month, or purchase a special attachment designed for this purpose. If buildup is severe, call a repairman. It’s possible for you to take care of the clog, but it’s likely that you’ll damage the dryer or injure yourself. But, by starting this process and doing it before a problem is created, you’ll probably never have to make that call.
Keeping the dryer clean of lint is a simple process. It keeps the dryer from more serious problems and, more importantly, eliminates a potential danger from your home. And I assure you, the repairman will survive!
Published in: Consumer Information