Dryer Preventative Maintenance

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Dryer maintenance is easy! Clean the lint screen before each load. Says so on a lot of dryer filters nowadays. The dryer vent tube and household dryer duct should be cleaned once every year or two. Keeping the vent duct clear helps maintain a strong airflow and decreases the rate at which dryer lint can collect within the machine cabinet. Lint building up in the machine cabinet decreases its efficiency but it also increases the potential fire hazard of the dryer. Lint collecting in the dryer cabinet or even the household duct work can lead to blown thermostats and thermal fuses. Dryer lint will clog the moving components like the drum rollers and idler pulley and the machine will begin and squeak and squeal. Run a dryer that way for too long and larger problems will surface.

Dryers with restricted air passages need longer run times for the same effective dryness. Many “long dry time” complaints are traced back to a restricted dryer vent duct. Sometimes the restriction is just in the dryer vent tube found behind the unit; however, I’ve found restrictions from the machine blower wheel to the screen on the very end of the household dryer duct. Clean the lint screen regularly before your dryer builds up an excess of lint. It is for this reason I recommend using just one dryer sheet per dry cycle. If you prefer, you can eliminate the use of dryer sheets all together and use Dryer Lint Balls instead. Lint Balls can be found at most department stores. Dryer sheets can be sucked into the machine air duct during operation and clog the air blower wheel and using multiple dryer sheets in any one cycle makes it easier for the sheets to escape the dryer drum into the blower housing. When the blower wheel becomes obstructed the dryer makes a very loud humming and vibration noise. A stuck dryer sheet can produce this noise as can a buildup of lint on the blower wheel assembly, lint that builds up because it cannot exist the machine effectively.

Air flow is really the most important factor in the operation of a dryer. A dryer with no heat production can still dry clothes so long as there is sufficient air flow to remove the moist air from the system. Running a dryer without a heating element is inefficient and the dryer will need a long time to complete the task, but it will dry.

Another tip to keep your dryer working great for longer, don’t overload the dryer. Overloading a dryer contributes to long dry times due to the restricted amount of airflow within the dryer drum. Because the dryer drum’s volume is taken to capacity, the clothing items don’t have enough room to move about the drum and the air within the drum has a harder time escaping the dryer via the machine air duct. Overloading the dryer can also put greater stress on the dryer drum rollers, flattening them down and causing a very loud thumbing noise during machine operation, kind of like the sound a flat tire makes. Allowed to persist the drum rollers can eventually break and the roller bearing can warp, greatly increasing the cost of a repair.

They don’t make any appliances the way they use to. A fellow technician named Dave (a 28-year Pro and my Primary Trainer) had a customer with a 12-year-old Kenmore dryer that stopped heating. Dave discovered the heating element and thermostat had blown. The heating element broke because of increased heat stress from operating the dryer with virtually 0% air flow. Dave’s customer had not cleaned the machine lint filter since they bought the machine nearly 12 years prior. They had no idea it was there and that they were suppose to remove and clean it after every cycle, no one ever told them as much. I asked Dave, “did you tell them to get the air duct cleaned out?” Laughing Dave said, “Uhhh yeah!” Nowadays many modern dryers have sensors that measure the rate of air flow through the machine. If the air flow reading drops below an optimum level the machine is designed to shutdown heat production. In some models, all motor movement will cease in the event of a restricted air flow fault! Another tip, a dryer vent duct should rise no more than 8 feet above the machine and should run no more than 15 feet to the outside of the home and the duct should not have more than one 90 degree turn. I’ve seen long air ducts cause an air flow error even though the air duct was perfectly clear.

Vacuum the dryer cabinet and blower wheel housing. The condition of the dryer cabinet is a good indication of the air flow. A dryer with thick layers of dust within the machine cabinet and no obvious machine duct break is having a serious airflow problem. The wet dusty air is being returned back into the machine. Removing the dust buildup also helps maintain the machine moving parts like the motor, idler pulley and rollers which can be restricted with the lint dust adding friction to the system which will eventually break the affected components.

Visit Tin for guidance in troubleshooting your dryer’s heating problems and online assistance in conducting your own preventative maintenance procedures. Check back often for more articles on the Importance of General Maintenance and Preventative Maintenance Tips which can be found on the blog page.  There you can find not only this article but also interesting information about most aspects of appliances, from how to keep them looking their best to which ones NOT to buy.  Thanks for reading, and give us feedback, we love hearing from you!

Maintenance saves money

The Importance of General Maintenance

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Performing general maintenance on a routine schedule can go a long way to ensure the longevity of your household appliances. At Tin Lizzee experienced qualified appliance technicians will walk you through performing your own preventative maintenance check-up on all your appliances.  For only $19.99 you can help your machine run strong for a longer time frame, that is a $120 value for about the cost of a large pizza! In addition, preventative maintenance checks can save you from the potential nightmare of major damages to your home due to a faulty appliance.

Quick story, one day I had a customer who owns a small hotel. He ordered a repair for a dryer that wouldn’t heat. The heating problem was a relatively easy fix and I finished the repair quickly, freeing up more time for me to be extra helpful for my customer.  I offered to conduct a maintenance check-up on the washing machine. The washer was a good, older model machine and hey, it sits right next to the dryer so why not right!  I’m a great technician so my customer was more than happy to pay additional fees for a little piece of mind on the washer, especially after already paying me around $250 to fix a broken dryer. I conducted the preventative maintenance check-up of the washer and when I tilled the machine to check the motor windings and transmission cam, I found a very slow leak coming from the drain pump. The leak was so slow it took about ten minutes to verify. The leak rate was slow enough that no matter what my customer was washing, there would not be enough water leaked at any one time to spill out from underneath the machine where anyone passing by would see it. The water leak was also consistent enough to cause some water damage to the flooring underneath the washer. The floor was not level and slightly slopped to the rear of the machine and after what looked like years of leaking, the water had eaten away at the flooring causing the floor to concave into a kind of bowl directly underneath the washer allowing the leaking water to pool. It was a good thing I caught it when I did because on the lower floor, below the washer was a hotel room. My customer was so very glad I went the extra mile to offer additional services. I was able to repair the unit that morning and saved my customer from the heartache of a collapsed floor that could drain into the subfloor and the units below.

Always check your owner’s manual. Most of my customers are surprised at the wealth of information within the owner’s manual. I am a General Appliance Technician, or Generalist for short. I cannot possibly remember every minute detail of every appliance product on the market, and given this industry is a business of details, its an irrational task to try to achieve. Often times when customers ask me questions very specific to their machine, I will ask them; “do you have your owner’s manual?” their eyes get wide, as if to say “I didn’t even think about that!”  Check your owner’s manual, the answers to your questions just might be in there. Most of my customers find their manual in the “drawer of forgotten and neglected things”, you know the one. It’s that drawer in the kitchen with that one old rusty spoon, two or three half folded take-out menus for restaurants that have been out of business for years, and about a dozen pens that should’ve been thrown out. Look carefully, it’ll be covered in a lot of dust!

Not all owner’s manuals are created equal. Some owner’s manuals offer little to no information outside of the brand name. Some owner’s manuals are so dense and convoluted you can’t make any since of it, you keep getting lost in the index or legend! In the more useful owner’s manuals, you’ll find helpful tips on using the appliance optimally, some of the details that make your appliance unique and recommendations or guidelines for the use and care of the product.  I recommend consulting your owner’s manual every time you buy a new appliance. In some owner’s manuals you will find important disclaimers that explain why some of the great features of your product don’t actually work the way you thought, or were led to believe by a salesman. This can save you a lot of lost time and money on in-home service calls to find out your appliance is working as it was engineered. I’ve done warranty work for many brands and manufacturers and most of them have policies which state that if the customer is wrong about a machine fault and I as a technician simply explain something written in the owner’s manual, the customer will have to pay the service fee.  I’m not talking about a $99 trip charge, I mean job codes that read “customer instruction: $180.”

The modern residential appliance in loaded with electronics. I’ve repaired machines that made me almost scream in frustration: “why is this thing in my customer’s home, this machine belongs on the International Space Station!” Electronic control boards are very sensitive to heat, water and pressure and it doesn’t take a whole lot of either of those things to ruin them. Due to all the electronics in modern machines, regular routine maintenance is supremely important.  Proper maintenance also improves the longevity of your machine.

When considering a new appliance, you could do worse than starting out reading this article My Picks of the Best Performing Appliances, which can be found on the blog page.  There you can find not only this article, but interesting information about most aspects of appliances, from how to keep them looking their best to which ones NOT to buy. Check back often, and give us feedback, we love hearing from you!