FIXED - Dryer that just gradually quit

For last several months, our electric dryer has been taking longer and longer to dry anything. Got so bad that it took two hours + to dry anything at all. I had already replace the thermostat about a year ago, and that helped for a while, but not long-term. I popped the top while it was drying and saw that the heating element was staying on for about 12-15 seconds, then going out for 45 or so. I finally went out and bought a new dryer. We needed it anyway... the old one had a bad bearing somewhere - made noise and the drum bounced around while working...and I didn't want to fool with a 15-year old dryer. But when I got the new one installed, it did exactly the same thing with the long drying times... now, I know that many of you know what was wrong, and it finally occurred to me to check the 16 ft dryer duct run in the basement to the outside vent. I went outside while the dryer was running, and the vent louvers weren't even opening... it was just puppy-breath. Sure enough, the whole duct was clogged like a heart patient's worst nightmare. I took it all apart, and used a leaf-blower to clean out the longest (12') run, and a vacuum to clean out the rest of the elbows, etc. Now, the heater coils stay on almost constantly, and it dries using the "more dry" / "less dry" settings like it should.
So, before you go do anything drastic, always check the ducts. My lint filter (in the dryer) had a small (1/2 inch) hole in it, and evidently, over the months, enough lint got through that hole to almost completely clog the system. Now, while I'm looking for time to put all the ductwork back together, I dry an occasional load directly into our (unfinished) basement. With cold weather, the humidity doesn't hurt (actually helps), and I'll get the ductwork back up in a day or so.
Just thought I'd share my experience so that somebody doesn't buy a new dryer that they don't actually need.
Steve Henderson
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 23:42:51 -0600, "Steve Henderson"

Good for you!
The hole certaintly added to your problems, but even without a hole, the vents will still clog up. So you have good advice for everyone.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

However, why do dryers have to be vented outdoors anyhow? There was no vent when I moved in 27 years ago, and I've lived all that time with 'venting' into the furnace/utility room. In (hot, humid) summer, I open the outside door and close the one between kitchen and utility area; in winter, have no objection to a little damp warmth seeping into the house. I clean the lint filter every time I put in a load of laundry. There is certainly not a fluff coating on anything in the area. The dryer police have not visited. Just curious.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

1. So the several pounds of moisture in damp clothing doesn't get into your room air.
2. So the fine dust particles, chemical residue, etc. not trapped by the lint filter doesn't get into you house air and lead to repertory problems in your family members.
3. Should any lint accumulation inside the dryer catch fire while the dryer is running, some of the resulting smoke may be vented outdoors where there's less chance of harming residents.
You can read about dryer venting st the following link:
http://ng.appliance411.com/links/jump.cgi?IDw8
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411 =+
=~~~~~~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 16 Dec 2003 14:29:55 -0500, "Dan O."

As I mentioned, I vent via a back door in summer, and welcome any source of warmth and a little humidity in winter.

This may, indeed, be a concern for some.

Is this a common problem? Dryers catching fire?

I appreciate the points made. However, it seems as if many of the (lint buildup) problems are due to improperly installed venting. That is, the lint collects in the tubes/hoses and blocks the flow of air. As was apparently the OP's problem. What I have is essentially a room-sized 'hose' selectively vented outdoors (back door) or inside (kitchen door) that has never evidence any lint buildup. The lint *trap* is pretty fluffy after a load of towels or a new bathrobe, but I keep that cleaned out.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Frogleg wrote:

Very valid point made here. When I worked in the appliance repair business, virtually every complaint of "poor or not drying" could be traced back to an unsatisfactory exhaust system, and was more prevalent in relatively modern houses. Problem is that the builders do not talk to the people who repair appliances, and do not talk to the manufacturers. Some pointers:
Maximum vent length should be 48 feet - this assumes the vent comes straight out of the dryer. Every right-angled turn is the equivalent of 8 feet of vent.
Dryers (especially those built since about 1988) do not push upwards very well. As a "rule of thumb". they have enough power to push up about the height of a door. Bear in mind that a vertical section will "eat up" a considerable amount of the 48 feet mentioned above. DO NOT do what one customer did, and connect the exhaust to an old furnace flue which went straight up through the roof some 25 feet! When told what the problem was, his wife said " I told him it wouldn't work"...my reaction was "Well, you can tell him that I said it won't work!".
Minimum diameter of any vent hose/pipe should be 4 inches.
Gas dryers should be vented to the outside for proper exhausting of combustion products.
Clean your lint screen after every load.
If you are having a problem with long drying time, check that air is actually coming from the vent where it leaves the house. A common problem in modern homes is the builders going overboard on the stucco finish and sticking the vent closed. I fished out a 6 inch depth of lint (and about $90 in change!) from one that had been that way for 3 years!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dear Mad Mac, You sound like a fellow with a lot of experience. I would guess that smooth tubing (such as the smooth aluminum sold for this) is better for venting than the corrugated hose. Makes sense anyhow. So, if there is a long run, it's better to use smooth alum than corrugated hose.
--
Christopher A. Young
Learn More about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not the dryer itself but the lint accumulation inside them catching fire and/or smoldering *IS* fairly common, yes!!

That does lead to more of a lint build up inside the dryer but it can still accumulate even in a properly vented dryer. The inside of a dryer should be accessed periodically and thoroughly vacuumed.

Inside the dryer or in the room you're venting it into? Depending on the lint filter's material more or less small particles can get through it. The finest of that material may not leave much of a residual residue on surfaces but instead may remain airborne while it is circulated throughout the rest of the house.

A dryer's lint filter can only trap certain size particles, the rest will pass right through it. Try putting a nylon stocking (or some other finer filter material) over the exhaust for a couple of loads to see if it traps *anything* else. My hunch is it will, which is the material you're likely breathing in when not venting doors.
I don't know if it will effect you or could even be determined as a cause to some later in life illness. I do know that many people are developing sensitivities to airborne impurities and no one to date can say what originally caused them. Why take a chance?
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411=dryer+venting
=~~~~~~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 17 Dec 2003 15:16:11 -0500, "Dan O."

[Dan O wrote}

I have a dryer in a utility room. The vent isn't connected to anything. By "room-sized" hose, I meant that the (small) room is the conduit from vent to either outside or inside.

I tell ya, the least of my worries is invisible particles from drying laundry. The house seems to collect the same amount of visible dust summer ("venting" outside) and winter (letting warmth into the kitchen). I'm sure a highly allergic person would want extremely filtered air, but shoot, if you're using the towels, sleeping on the sheets, and wearing the clothes -- how much residue from a fistful of detergent on a load of twice-rinsed material is going to circulate malignly?

Again, I appreciate the points you make. However, I rather vaguely wondered from time to time (over 25 years) if I were courting imminent death and destruction by not having an outside vent for the dryer. It seems not. "Why take a chance"? Because installing a vent would involve breaking through a brick wall, plus the expense of labor and parts for this and future installations. I have an old, drafty house with normal dust and pollen circulating fairly freely. I *am* grateful for the time spent on answering my question. Think I have a handle on the yeas and nays now. Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If there is a vent on the back of your gas dryer, you should be venting to someplace outdoors. I still have no idea why an electric dryer has a vent.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 16 Dec 2003 11:39:58 -0800, scott snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com (Childfree Scott) wrote:

Electric. Current model replaced an earlier electric "apt-sized" thingy that had no vent connection I remember.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Henderson wrote:

<snipped>
In my last home, there was an accessory diverter valve mounted in the exhaust duct which could be flipped to let the exhaust go into the home during our cold New England winters.
The guys who built our present house exhausted the dryer directly through the outside wall behind it with just enough of that flexible vent stuff to let me move it far enough away from the wall to reach the clamp and disconnect it whne needed.

Good for you! And double good because you didn't suffer a lint fire in the duct, it's been known to happen, with sometimes disasterous results.
IMHO dryers ought to include a simple paddle switch air flow sensor or something similar which could alarm the user that the exhaust wasn't doing its thing right.
Happy Holidays,
Jeff
-- Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place the blame on."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.