Modern clothes dryers are technological marvels. They fluff, steam, cool down, wrinkle release, and do just about everything else but fold your laundry for you. These modern marvels do have some common problems that can often occur over the life of the appliance. One of those common problems is a dryer taking too long to dry clothes. There are many potential causes for this problem, and several ways to address the issue without too much time, money, or effort. Read this guide to find out why your dryer is taking too long to dry clothes.
Remember a few safety tips before getting started: always unplug the appliance before servicing the inside cabinet, always wait until the appliance is cool to service it, wear protective eyewear and clothing when necessary, and don’t be afraid to call in a dryer repair professional when needed.
First, check the lint trap. Most homeowners know to clean the lint trap after every use, but sometimes other users can forget, or the busy day-to-day life can have us forgetting ourselves. If the lint trap is blocked by too much lint, hair, or dust, the dryer’s performance will be drastically limited. This will affect not only your drying time but the electrical efficiency of your dryer. Too much lint in the lint trap can also cause lint build up farther down the venting system, as pieces and chunks break loose. This can be a fire hazard as well.
Check the lint trap for any residual lint, or any large deposits. If it looks dirty, stained, or otherwise clogged, wash the lint trap with warm soapy water and rinse well. Depending on your lint trap design, you may need to take it outside and use a large bucket to make this job easier.
After hot, dry air is blown through the appliance to dry your clothes, it is forced out of the dryer through the exhaust vent, and follows venting ducts or venting hoses out of your home. As with the lint filter, a buildup of dust, hair, lint, (or even small articles of clothing!) can result in decreased performance and efficiency. Dryer vent blockages are also a major safety issue, as a large percentage of home fires are caused by clothes dryers with blocked vents.
You can remove your dryer’s exhaust hose where it exits the dryer. Note how it is attached to the appliance so you can reattach it properly later. Some dryers use cable ties or clamps, small screws, or foil tape to hold the hose in place.
Check that there are no obstructions in the exhaust port of the dryer. Then inspect the vent hose itself. The hose is usually a flexible metal tubing that may connect to a rigid metal tubing farther along its route, depending on the layout of your home. Depending on the length of your vent hose, and its location (attic, crawlspace), do your best to check for obstructions. Shine a light down the hose and visually inspect. Look for hair, dust, or lint accumulates in the hose.
You can also check the exhaust system by inspecting the dryer vent while the dryer is running if the vent is readily accessible. Reconnect the dryer hose to the exhaust port and turn the dryer on. Go to your vent on the exterior of your home and check it for obstructions, as well. Many vents have grates or screens that should be cleaned regularly.
If you don’t feel any air passing out of your exterior vent, it could mean that you have a clog in the hose that you can’t see. This could be a major safety issue, and should be addressed immediately. Depending on the layout of your exhaust system, you’ll need to access the entire length of hose and inspect for obstructions by separating the hose or duct at any connection points.
Broken or failing heating elements are another common problem that will cause a dryer to take too long to dry clothes. You can sometimes see the heating element glowing through a grate on the back of the dryer, so be sure to check behind the dryer during a cycle to see if there are any signs of a glowing element.
If you can’t see any signs of a heated element, use your owner’s manual to locate the position of your heating element, and access it inside the cabinet (follow all safety precautions as outlined at the beginning of this article). Examine the heating element for signs of damage or wear. A damaged heating element needs to be replaced with an identical replacement part immediately.
Finally, in addition to the steps outlined above, consider altering your drying habits and be sure that you are operating your dryer properly. Make sure that your clothes are being properly spun out by the washing machine, and that they are not too wet when they enter the dryer.
Don’t overload your dryer, especially with heavy items like towels or jeans. These heavy items put a load on both the heating system and the tumbling mechanisms.
Put your cycle on the proper settings. Read your manual to learn more about each setting and mode, and about what sort of clothes and fabrics are most appropriate for each setting. Some types of fabrics dry better on different settings, so pay attention to how you operate your dryer.