Major appliances save a lot of effort. Even the hobbled energy-efficient ones are still better than nothing.
It’s frustrating when things stop working, though. I know that we take our appliances for granted, and fixing appliances that aren’t working usually becomes a top priority very quickly. Water heaters, refrigerators, and freezers are way at the top of the list. Clothes washers and dryers are next.
This past weekend our clothes dryer was taking longer and longer to dry things. It was only about a year and a half ago that we called a repairman to clean the dryer ventilation. We couldn’t quite figure out the problem ourselves, and in the end we were glad that we had someone show us how to do it.
Having gone through this exercise before, though, we knew better where to look. We remembered what the repairman checked, where the ducting led, and where the vent was. We saw that there was a wad of lint trapped in the vent, and we were able to get it out without calling the repairman again.
Here are some suggestions for dryer troubleshooting when the clothes just aren’t getting dry:
- Check the manual. There are usually troubleshooting instructions in the user’s manual. If you don’t have the manual anymore, you probably can download it from the manufacturer’s website for free.
- Make sure you’re cleaning the lint trap regularly. Obvious, right? Apparently not to some people. This was how we got one of our dryers for $100 from Lowe’s. The previous owner returned it, saying it didn’t work. The problem was simple: the lint trap was never once cleaned.
- Check to see if the heating element is working. This is either a filament or a gas flame. Ours is an electric clothes dryer so we don’t have to worry about gas lines, so it may not be quite as easy as pulling out the dryer and looking at the back. For ours we just undid a number of hex bolts to remove the back which exposed the internal ducting with the heating element inside.
- Check to see that the exhaust isn’t blocked somehow. If the heat is working, and the clothes aren’t drying, then it’s because the moisture has nowhere to go. This could be at the exhaust of the dryer.
- Check the ducting to the outside vent. This is the rest of the exit for the moisture. We knew where the vent was, which is most of the battle. (We didn’t the first time!) We have a second-floor dryer, and the vent is way up on the side of the house. We took a zoomed-in picture with our smartphone from the ground, and it was clear that there was a lot of lint covering the inside of the vent. So my wife and father-in-law volunteered to go on the roof, and got rid of the clog.
Problem solved! And no call to the repairman!
So to summarize:
- Start with the manual. Common problems are outlined in there.
- Try learning about the appliance by (carefully) disassembling it. If you can unscrew things and write down what you did, then you can put it back together by following your disassembly directions in reverse order.
- If you end up calling a repairman, learn. My wife did this the last time.
- Apply what you learned the next time and you may avoid another call!