Other than your heating and air conditioning unit, your clothes dryer may be the most used (and abused) system in your home. It’s important to understand how it functions so that it’s easy to identify a problem, you can use it properly, and also maintain it. Knowing how the dryer works will also help you troubleshoot and know when to call a professional.
The Heating Element
Every dryer uses heat to dry the clothes. In order to produce heat, the units are fueled by either electricity, natural gas, or propane gas.
Electric Dryers – The heating elements in an electric dryer works like those in ovens and hot water heaters. The electricity is sent through a coil that builds up electrons, creating heat and energy. This heat is distributed into the dryer and throughout the tumbling clothes by way of a blower or fan.
Gas Dryers – Gas dryers use a pilot light that ignites the gas just like a gas stove, furnace, or water heater when powered on. Instead of heating coils, the gas dryer uses metal plates to transfer the heat from the fire into the air inside the dryer.
Just like a clothes line uses the breeze and sunshine to dry clothes, your clothes dryer needs air circulation along with heat to dry the clothes efficiently. Dryers pull air through vents into the unit and then use it to circulate through and draw moisture from the wet clothes. The air is important for drying the clothes, but once it’s filled with moisture, where does it go? The dryer must be vented to the outdoors to carry moist air and microscopic lint particles safely out of the unit. This system keeps the dryer safe and efficient.
There is such a thing as ventless clothes dryers, and they’re safe, though they operate differently. Once the air is used to dry the clothes, it passes through a heat exchanger where the air is once-again cooled and the moisture is condensed and drained. This process is repeated until the cycle is complete and the clothes are dried.
Problems With the Dryer
Once you understand how the dryer works, it can be fairly easy to troubleshoot when there is a problem. It may be the heating element if the dryer is older than five years. This can be an inexpensive fix if you can replace it yourself. However, if the problem is air circulation, the problem is more complicated, dangerous, and should be corrected with professional services. If the dryer isn’t venting properly, it may be caused from a clog and can lead to a dangerous fire. If you have a gas dryer, it can be even more dangerous, leading to a carbon monoxide emergency.
In order to prevent a dangerous health emergency or house fire, you should have the professionals install your dryer vents, service them regularly, and check them out if you have a problem. Professional dryer services are so important in preventing house fires that the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) organized a certification for dryer vent services and safety. Only professionals now the ins and outs of dryer safety.
Call Chesapeake Chimney at 410-535-0052 and talk to a professional about dryer exhaust cleaning now.