Clothes Dryer Maintenance and Safety

To keep your clothes dryer operating in tip top shape there are a couple of maintenance tips that will prolong the life of your dryer and make it more energy efficient.

The basic function of your clothes dryer is to remove moisture from your clothes. While removing the moisture it also collects lint. The lint is made up of fibers from your clothing and collects in various places in, on, and around your dryer. The most common place lint collects is the lint filter or lint trap. This should be cleaned after each load of laundry. The lint filter is usually found either in or under the door of your dryer. It usually looks like a piece of screen mesh. Here the lint fibers collect. Also you may find dryer sheets or small pieces of fabric.

When you use dryer sheets a sticky residue may also form on your lint filter making it harder for the air to pass through. You can carefully wash this screen filter in warm soapy water to remove the buildup.

The hole or duct that holds the lint filter in place is usually a collecting area for lint as well. Sometimes a small vacuum attachment or a toothbrush can clean out the top of the duct. Before you attempt any cleaning of a dryer make sure you unplug the dryer from the electrical outlet to prevent any potential hazards.

If the floor around and under your dryer looks like this it is a safety hazard.

Another place that lint and lost dryer sheets can collect is underneath your dryer. This is particularly likely if you have a lose dryer exhaust hose or a loose connection inside your dryer exhaust.

Regularly cleaning under your dryer will cut down on the lint backup and help with air flow. You would be amazed at the amount of stuff that can magically appear under your clothes dryer. There should always be adequate ventilation around the bottom of your dryer. Otherwise heat can build up and eventually it could cause a fire. Lint itself is very flammable, so lint buildup in and of itself is a potential fire hazard, even if the ignition source is not your dryer!

If you need to throw your clothes on the laundry room floor make sure they are not blocking airflow around the bottom of the dryer.

Moving your dryer away from the wall about every 6 months to clean under it also enables you to inspect and clean the dryer hose vent. After cleaning the hose vent always make sure that it is properly secured to the back of the dryer before moving it back into place. Most dryers have 4″ diameter hoses that lead to an outside vent. You can also go outside and stick your hand or a small brush into the end of the vent and remove any lint buildup.

If your dryer vent hose is more than 7 years old you may want to inspect it for cracks and leaks. If your hose has a hole you may notice that there is extra moisture in your laundry room when your dryer is running or that there is a lot of lint on the floor blowing out of the hose. The most common dry hose was made of white plastic and looked like an accordion. Most cities have upgraded the building code to only allow for the aluminum type solid or accordion hose. Check with your city building code inspector to see if you need to replace your dryer vent hose to the aluminum type.