A dryer is convenient, but it uses a lot of electricity and gas to operate. Getting the most of it is essential if you want to save money.
But how can you improve your dryer’s performance? It’s important to take care of both the dryer unit and its duct work. It may include tasks like:
- Not overloading or unloading the dryer
- Cleaning out lint regularly
- Making sure the unit is ventilated so that there is proper airflow from the indoor unit to the exterior vent
- Making sure the rotating drum and belt inside the drum work
- Checking the fans and installing additional fans around the unit if necessary
However, this is just a simple take on the matter. To really take your dryer’s performance to the next level, you would need a clear understanding of the factors affecting a dryer’s operation and the methods of improving them.
Factors Affecting A Dryer’s Performance
Similar to most appliances, a dryer’s working principle and installation affect its performance the most. Therefore, it’s better to understand how a dryer system functions before diving into the methods of improving efficiency. Regardless of its type, a dryer passes through four steps when removing moisture from your clothes.
Step 1 – Most dryers kick start their operation by drawing in a fresh batch of air (aka makeup air) using a blower wheel. The air which is drawn in at this stage is responsible for the drying process till it’s finally exhausted. This air is usually at room temperature unless a preheating mechanism is installed.
Step 2 – The air drawn in is then heated to a specific temperature before passing over to the drum of the unit. Most dryers use either electricity or a gas burner to heat the makeup air.
Tip:- Gas dryers are typically more efficient than electric dryers as they have a hotter drying cycle. However, they are also more expensive than their electric counterparts.
Step 3 – Once the makeup air is heated, it’s passed into the dryer’s drum mechanism where it circulates through your wet clothes. The heated air draws in the moisture and dries the clothes at this stage.
Step 4 – The now humid air is then passed through a lint screen and finally vented from the exhaust ducts. These exhaust vents typically lead to the outside of your home, unless a heat regenerative system is installed to preheat the makeup air.
These four steps happen continuously until a batch of clothes is dry. If you are to improve a dryer’s performance, small tweaks to supplement each of these steps are all you need. These adjustments will gradually add up and bring in notable results.
As these adjustments are related to “The Load”, “The Unit” and “The Duct Work”, we tackled them separately to keep things simple.
This section deals with a few adjustments you can do to your clothes before using the dryer. While they might not seem that crucial they degrade your dryer’s performance in the long run.
Avoid Overloading and Underloading
Most homeowners ignore the load they insert into their dryers. They tend to either overload the dryer to save a bit of time. Or underload it if they haven’t got the required amount of wet fabric. Both these circumstances will ultimately damage the machine.
Overloading a dryer will make the machine work overtime. Thus, it will put extra strain on the motors which can lead to burnout and worn brushes. Further, large batches of wet fabric will require more time to dry effectively, which will cause higher energy consumption.
Under loading, a dryer however is not as harmful as overloading it. Yet, it is not energy efficient. But you might get away with underloading a dryer nowadays as most modern machines come with settings to handle different volumes of fabric.
Sorting and Minimizing Lint
The Accumulation of lint is one of the biggest reasons that cause a dryer’s overall performance to deteriorate with time. This is because accumulated lint will hinder the airflow in a dryer. From the lint screen to the ducts, you’ll always find clumps of lint in nearly all the parts of a dryer installation. It’s pretty much unavoidable.
But there are a still few ways to minimize lint on your clothes. One simple trick is to use fabric softeners that will keep your clothes from shedding fabric fibers. You can also use dryer sheets instead. Dryer sheets will minimize friction and static cling during your dryer cycles. They are quite effective and also less expensive.
Furthermore, you can sort the fabric based on how likely they are to “produce lint” (ex-Towels, Fleece and Felt) and “collect lint”(ex-Corduroy and Synthetic fabrics). This will give you an idea of how much lint each dryer batch will produce.
Maintaining the Unit
Now that you know how to optimize the load to improve a dryer’s performance, let’s look at what you can do to boost the efficiency of the unit.
Keep the dryer in a well-ventilated room
As mentioned before, a dryer’s airflow is vital for its performance. The better the quality of air circulating the dryer, the better the work done by the machine.
A dryer works best with dry air because it has greater moisture carrying capacity when heated. Therefore, it’s wise to have your dryer installed in a room with minimum humidity. However, if the space available is quite damp, you can always employ dehumidifiers to improve the quality of air in the room.
Additionally, do not have the dryer cramped into a corner. Keep it slightly away from walls and make sure that the air inlet is not blocked. A well-ventilated room goes a long way when improving a dryer’s performance.
Clean the lint trap
Most modern dryer models have an inbuilt lint screen. These screens collect all the exhausted lint and need cleaning after each use.
However, know that a lint filter does not catch all the lint that circulates within the machine. Some escape to the vents and some remain in the drum. So, try inspecting the other parts of the machine for collected lint. We will talk more about examining the vents for lint later on.
Cleaning the lint screen is quite easy. All you’ve got to do is remove the panel and physically scrap the lint off of it. While we suggest you do this after every batch, we also recommend that you give a thorough wash with a mild cleaning solution at the end of each working day.
Fix issues with the drum and belt
The rotating drum of a dryer ensures that the heated air is dispersed throughout the load during operation. So, it needs to be in tip-top shape to get the best out of the machine. The drum uses a rotating belt to function. And this belt wears off with time. Therefore, inspecting it once every six months and fixing any problems you come across will help improve your dryer’s performance.
Belts are usually cheap, usually no more than $10. Examining the belt, however, will require you to open up the machine. So if you’ve got no prior experience we suggest you contact a reliable technician.
Inspect the fans
Regardless of the quality of air circulating the machine, a dryer will underperform if there are any issues with the fans. So, having them running in their best condition is a must if you want to improve the efficiency of the unit.
When examining the fan, keep a lookout for its alignment and its rotation. A bad alignment will hamper the airflow while a fan rotating in reverse will move the air in the wrong direction. These are common issues found in dryers that undergo fan replacements.
Maintaining the Duct Work
Once you are done making any required adjustments to the unit, you can move onto improving the condition of the ductwork.
Unclog blocked ducts
The ducts (or ventilation pipes) help move the exhaust air outdoors. So them being blocked is not ideal for a dryer’s operation. A blocked vent will impede the airflow and in extreme cases even reverse the fumes back into the machine. This can harm the machine and sometimes even people.
Blocked vents result from lint, dirt, and debris accumulating. It is inevitable and the only way to control it is to have regular vent maintenance sessions. The difficulty in cleaning your vents depends on how complex the installation is.
If your vents run directly from the dryer to the outdoors, you are in luck. You can simply detach the sides of the duct and clean it from end to end. However, if it comprises twists and turns running through your walls for more than a couple of feet, you might need specialized help.
Rearrange the ductwork
Similar to accumulated debris, the bends in the ductwork can also impede the airflow. Therefore, straightening your ducts will help improve the overall performance of a dryer. Further, it will make cleaning easier in the long run as well.
Ideally, you want the ducts to run straight only for a couple of feet before reaching outside. The shorter the duct, the easier it is to be kept straighter. However, longer ducts allow the dryer to be moved about effortlessly.
Regardless, straightening the ductworks is easier said than done and the best time to do it is when installing the dryer.
Install Booster fans
Apart from cleaning and straightening the ductwork, you can always opt for booster fans if you feel like the airflow within the vent system is weak. They are affordable and will give the extra push the air needs to get outside. Today, there are special booster fans designed for dryer vents that can be programmed to start along with the dryer.
Improving a dryer’s performance is simply making the necessary arrangements to boost the tasks involved in the drying process. Out of all the aforementioned changes, however, optimizing the airflow will bring in the most notable results. But it does not mean you needn’t implement the other tweaks. They too will add up to improve the efficiency of the dryer.
All this seems like hard work, but these changes are guaranteed to get your dryer performing to the best of its ability.