You might think dryers are simple and you’re right. But they do break. Most times it’s not serious but still a big inconvenience. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could diagnose a dryer problem in five minutes flat? After reading today’s edition in the DIY Appliance Repair Series about dryers, you will have a better understanding of what they do, how they do it, and a few simple solutions to some common problems.
Here’s what I’ll be talking about today:
- How dryers work
- Common problems you can fix
- When not to try
- It’s time to contact Tin Lizzee for help
So, how do dryers work?
They’re not scientific marvels. Not even close. They have a drum for your clothes and a drive belt driven by an electric motor. When the drum turns, heat is produced by the heater (electric or gas) and assuming it has a clear vent, begins its mundane task of drying your clothes.
The genius part of dryers is how easy they perform its task of drying clothes. You may remember drying clothes on a clothesline before dryers came along. Speaking of clotheslines, the process represents what happens in your dryer today.
All dryers require three things to happen in harmony with each other. First, we need heat (sun) to dry clothes. Heat by itself cannot dry clothes. It can only heat them. Airflow (wind) mixed with heat dries clothes. Good airflow dries them faster and better. So, you see, we need heat and airflow to dry clothes.
The third thing all dryers need is a way to tumble clothes to allow hot, moist air to escape through the clear vent to facilitate drying. In a clothesline scenario, clothes suspended in mid-air and wind gently blowing around them replicates tumbling.
Dryers replicate the clothesline process well. However, if any of the three elements of drying are missing, efficient drying can’t happen. That said, let’s look at what you can do quickly to remediate a drying problem.
Common, easy to fix dryer problems
- I’m sure you’re familiar with long dry times, but have you learned what causes it and better yet, how to fix it? When you notice towels taking 80-90 minutes or more to dry, something is up.
The first place to check is outside where the vent exits your house. Inspect it. Is it clogged? My guess is yes. Remove the screen if needed and reach inside to remove packed in lint but watch for a nest! Birds and other animals like the seclusion and warmth of a dryer vent. Wear gloves for this!
If it was clogged and now it’s clean, run your dryer empty for about 5 minutes to remove any loose lint. If you’re satisfied that everything is OK, put the screen back in, and you’re good to go.
TIP: Some people opt to leave the screen out and get in the habit of checking the now open vent regularly. If your vent has louvers, leave them in for protection.
What I just shared with you could save you big time in charges for vent cleaning and higher bills for the extra run time of the dryer!
- If your vent is clear and you’re still experiencing long dry times, look at the vent from your dryer to the wall. Is it crushed or kinked? Crushed or kinked vents are a leading cause of long dry times, eventually leading to excess lint buildup inside the dryer, increasing the chance of a dryer fire.
The simple fix for this is a new vent. Lowe’s, Home Depot, or any other hardware store sells them. Remember to use only metal vent. Refuse vinyl if you see it. It’s dangerous to use and banned in most states.
- If I had a nickel for every time I found the next simple problem and fixed it in under 2 minutes, I would be on easy street. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed to check the breaker, you’re right!
It happens this problem occurs far more often with electric versus gas dryers. If an electric dryer is missing half of its required 220 Vac, it runs but won’t heat. Many times, checking and resetting the breaker fixes it. Try resetting it a few times. Another simple fix!
When Not to Try
If dry times haven’t improved after cleaning the vent to the outside and replacing the section from the dryer to the wall, a mechanical problem such as a stripped blower wheel might be the culprit. It doesn’t happen often but enough to talk about it.
A stripped blower wheel is one repair that isn’t a simple fix. In fact, if you’re not trained to repair this, do not try it. You’ll discover you’re in too deep once you have the dryer torn apart. For this repair, it’s time to reach out to us and let us guide you through every step.
It’s time to contact Tin Lizzee for help when…
- Your dryer has no power.
- It powers on but won’t start.
- It’s very noisy when running.
- It runs but doesn’t heat (for electric dryers, check your breaker first!)
- It runs but doesn’t heat (for gas dryers, the flame goes out quickly)
As usual, I’ve had a great time writing this article for you. It’s my hope you’ll learn a little each time you read this and our other super-informative articles and use your new knowledge to save some money and understand more about your appliances. Remember, we love to hear from you! Please, leave a comment below and tell us how you fixed your dryer. Our readers will enjoy it!