How can I make my dryer last longer?

April 13, 2022 by PEMCO Insurance
Homeowners and renters can help prevent costly dryer breakdowns while stretching the life of appliances with some simple DIY maintenance. On average, dryers should last about 13 years, according to Consumer Reports, although 20% need repairs or replacement within the first five years. Consumers rank dryers as one of the appliances most prone to breakdowns, according to a survey by home improvement guru Bob Vila. Only washing machines rated worse. 

Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website for tips specific to your machine, but these tips will help most dryers last longer:

Set up your dryer for easy maintenance

  • Level your dryer. While a dryer can’t get off balance like a washer, its rotating parts will wear out faster if it’s rocking as the drum spins. Use a level to make sure it’s sitting flat on the floor and adjust the legs if needed. 
  • Move it out from the wall. Make sure the dryer isn’t crushing the vent hose behind it. Crushing tends to happen over time, especially if you lean against the dryer when you’re folding clothes. 
  • Replace the accordion vent hose that came with your dryer. If possible, use smooth metal duct (either rigid or flexible) for venting, instead. Without all those ridges, it will trap less lint, reducing fire risk and making it easier to vacuum clean. 
  • Replace metal screws with tape or clamps. Just as lint can collect in accordion hose, it also can snag on metal screws. Join sections with duct connectors and metal clamps or foil tape to create a smoother surface.
  • Periodically check that your hose isn’t coming loose. It can spew warm, humid air into your wall cavities or crawl space and create mold and rot troubles.

Keep it clean to ensure fast drying and minimize fire risk

  • After every use: Clean the lint screen. Your lint screen traps 75% of the lint from clothes. The rest gets forced into the vent hose and collects inside or on the ground under the exterior vent opening.
  • Once a month: Wash the lint screen with soap and water to remove residue. Here’s how to tell if your lint screen is clogged with residue from detergent and dryer sheets: Remove the lint screen and run water through it at the sink. Does the water pass through easily or does it puddle up? If it’s puddling, air probably can’t move freely through the screen, either. Hand wash it with mild dish soap and water to clear away buildup. Wipe the inside of the drum with a well-wrung washcloth to remove residue that could block airflow.
  • Seasonally: Clear the exterior vent opening. Over time, lint can build up and harden on the exterior flaps, reducing airflow. Clean away buildup so the flaps don’t stick together. During winter, make sure it’s not blocked by snow; during spring and summer, check that insects or birds aren’t nesting there; and in fall, clear away any leaves that might have blown in.
  • Annually: Schedule professional vent cleaning. While once a year is good for most people, your vent may need service more often if you do an exceptional amount of laundry or frequently dry blankets. Warning signs that you’re overdue include clothes that come out of the dryer extremely hot, clothes taking longer than normal to dry, a moldy smell on the clothes, an empty lint trap or a dryer shutting off mid-cycle (perhaps caused by overheating).

Load the dryer with safety and efficiency in mind

  • Never run the dryer when you’re away from home or sleeping to reduce the risk that a dryer fire could go unnoticed.
  • Don’t dry heavy or potentially flammable items. Line-dry athletic shoes or rubber-backed rugs. If you can still smell solvent on cleaning rags after they’re washed, they may be combustible. Rewash them before putting them in the dryer or line-dry them.
  • Don’t overstuff the dryer. Clothes need room to tumble freely for efficient drying. Tight-packed clothes take longer to dry and come out wrinkled and with wet spots.
  • Dry similar-weight items together. Separate lightweight from heavy clothes for more efficient drying.
  • Keep the door closed once it’s running. If you add wet clothes to a partially dry load, it will fool the moisture sensor, extending run time and over-drying some of the clothes.

Consider home warranty protection

If you’re worried that your appliances will some day leave you on the hook for a big repair bill, consider home warranty coverage. PEMCO has partnered with Cinch to help homeowners worry less and live more. It takes just minutes to get a quote online, and as a PEMCO member, you’ll get the first month of your Cinch plan free. 

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