Why your dryer isn’t drying your clothes

You need to leave in an hour, and your washing machine just chimed, so you should be able to stay on time if you toss your clothes in the dryer — but in 60 minutes, the clothes feel just as sopping wet as when you threw them in. What gives? Drying clothes is a much more difficult process than you might expect. Dryers require more careful use and maintenance to ensure they dry your clothes safely and efficiently, so if you haven’t been giving your dryer the TLC it needs, you might be waiting longer and longer for your clothes to dry. Not only does that waste your time, but it drives up your energy bill and can ruin your wardrobe, too. 

Dryers that aren’t drying clothes quickly could be malfunctioning for a variety of reasons. Here are a few you can fix yourself — and a few you might need to hire experts to address.

The Dryer Vent Is Clogged

The process of washing your clothes allows dirt and excess fibers to rise to the surface of your clothes, and in the dryer, that stuff sloughs off in the form of lint. Lint is carried away from your laundry by the dryer’s exhaust system; some of it is trapped in the filter screen, but plenty remains stuck in the exhaust duct and clogs up the dryer vent. Not only does this prevent your dryer from siphoning water away from your clothing, but it also poses a significant fire risk to your home. Fortunately, you can clean the filter screen, dryer vent and hose yourself, and you should do so every six months.

The Dryer Hose Is Too Long

The vent hose connects your dryer to the wall so it can expel hot air. The longer the hose is, the more time and effort your dryer needs to push out the air, so if there is any amount of slack, you should consider shortening your hose to help your dryer run more efficiently. 

The Laundry Is Too Wet

It is possible that your clothes are still damp because they are going into the dryer too wet. Some fabrics soak up more moisture in the wash, and you will need to take extra steps to dry them a bit before they can go in the dryer. You can wring them out manually, over the washer or a sink, or you can put your load of wash through an additional spin cycle, which won’t add any water but will drive moisture off the clothing. Though it takes extra time, it saves your dryer some effort.

The Dryer Is Too Full

Dryers work by tumbling wet laundry through a heated drum and warm air. The water evaporates, and the clothing dries. However, if the dryer is too full, it has difficulty maintaining the right temperature for evaporation, and much of the load never comes in contact with the heat. What’s more, over-full loads tend to imbalance your dryer, causing expensive damage to the machinery. As eager as you might be to finish doing laundry, you should keep your loads smaller to speed up the process and save your dryer.

The Door Keeps Opening

Dryers work like ovens; if you keep opening the door, the heat escapes outside, and it takes longer for the appliance to do its job. As anxious as you might be to put on your warm, clean clothes, you should wait to open your dryer’s door until you hear the “cycle complete” chime.

The Valve Coils Are Defective

If your dryer runs on gas, it contains a component called a valve coil, which controls the flow of gas used to heat the air and dry your clothes. When your valve coils aren’t working properly, they typically fail to permit enough gas, which means your dryer doesn’t heat up as it should. Checking your valve coils requires disconnecting your dryer from power, rooting around in the access panel and using a multimeter — which is usually a job more suited for dryer repair experts.

The Blower Wheel Isn’t Attached

The blower wheel is a component that helps hot air move quickly around the dryer, but it is often a plastic piece that can crack or become displaced with ease. A dysfunctional blower wheel doesn’t push enough air with enough speed; it can even impede the flow of air entirely. Again, checking and replacing the blower wheel is an intensive endeavor, best accomplished by an experienced professional.

Your dryer is a big, important appliance in your home, and you need to be able to trust that it will do its job. You need to use your dryer properly and maintain it to prevent serious issues. Sometimes, all you need is a quick visit from a dryer specialist, so you can get on with drying your clothes.

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