For your safety, perform regular maintenance to make sure your dryer is
up to speed
Before clothes dryers, homemakers hung clothes to dry, and it took forever. Today, clothes dryers are
a huge convenience and are one of your home’s biggest energy users. Like dishwashers, dryers should
be run with full loads for most efficient use but not so full that the clothes don’t easily tumble with
sufficient air flow. Drying back-to-back loads of washed clothes saves some energy as well since the
dryer doesn’t have to completely warm up from a cold start.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are over fifteen thousand dryer-related fires every year.
Clean the lint screen after every load and routinely vacuum out the lint trap itself.
Vacuum behind the dryer once a month or so to get up any loose lint and other debris.
Certain fabric softener sheets can build up a residue on the lint screen and clog it—be sure to wash the screen once every few
weeks with warm water and soap.
Dryers exhaust lint from the clothes they dry. Lint clogs lint screens and exhaust hoses and needs to
be regularly removed for safety (you want to avoid a lint fire) and efficiency. Dryer parts can
eventually fail after years of use. Heating elements break in electric dryers, as do switches, fuses,
and, in the worst case, motors. As with any major appliance repair, weigh replacement versus a visit
from an appliance technician. Keep in mind that new dryers start at less than $300. Consider the
dryer’s age and repair history before deciding.
Plastic dryer hoses should be replaced with either solid metal or flexible aluminum (gas dryers have other requirements).
Do not attach the dryer hose to the exhaust ducting with metal screws—these can catch and trap lint.
With your dryer running, check the vent outlet to be sure hot air is easily exhausted and the vent is not clogged with lint.
Clean the hose and ducting with an electric blower from the inside after disconnecting the dryer hose from the dryer.
When an electric dryer stops heating up, a regular source of the problem is the heating element, which is found at the back of the
Heating elements are available at appliance part stores and are relatively inexpensive.
Before removing the element, unplug the dryer—never work on an electrical component with the power connected.
A damaged heating element will have burned-out, disconnected metal wire(s).
Never vent a dryer inside your home, as tempting as that might seem. Some argue it’s all right,
especially in dry climates where the humidity would be welcome, but the moisture would be
excessive and damaging. Always vent a clothes dryer outside and keep the exhaust hose and
vent cover clean of lint.