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Tips for Better Washer/Dryer Maintenance

Washer and dryer maintenance is the key to keeping your appliances running in tip-top shape. Caring for them means less time doing household chores and less money spent on utility bills. However, there's more to maintenance than just better efficiency.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 14,600 fires are reported every year due to home dryers. Luckily, there are steps every homeowner can take to protect themselves and their home. Maintenance may not be able to prevent every problem, but it can go a long way toward keeping your safe from a dangerous spark.

Man inspecting a dryer's lint tray area.

Start with the Ventilation

Clean the dust and lint out of the dryer filter between every load to ensure proper ventilation. Experts also recommend cleaning the filter with detergent around four times a year to remove the chemical buildup that forms over time. This residue is typically invisible, but it can affect the overall airflow of the machine.

If you have accordion-style ducts, you can also consider replacing them with rigid metal ducts. Accordion vents may droop over time, giving lint a chance to form in the ridges of the ductwork. Finally, it's also suggested that you clean the full ductwork at least once a year. If you're noticing clothes are taking longer to dry, this could be a sign that the ducts need to be cleaned.

Washer Safety

To prevent mold, it's recommended that you dry the door and gasket after using the washer, and leave the door open on a top-load washer to promote air circulation. You should also be careful of the types of detergent you're using for each load of laundry. For example, some laundry pods may damage your washing machine.

If removing any flammable materials (e.g., gas, oil, etc.) from clothes, you may need to wash them more than once before hanging to dry. Even a small amount of chemical residue left on the clothing may cause the dryer to ignite.

You can also check if the washing machine is entirely level and on firm ground. Because these machines are often kept in the basement, they may be affected by the gradual settling of the home's foundation.

Finally, experts recommend a thorough inspection once a month of the washing machine for evident signs of wear and tear. If fittings are loose or hoses have been damaged, now is a good time to tighten or replace.

Additional Tips

Here are a few additional suggestions to keep in mind for better washer/dryer maintenance:

  • Clean gaskets and drums with a solution of water and vinegar in equal parts
  • If you have a front-load washer, clean the drain pump filter every month
  • Replace washer hoses after five years
  • Keep rust at bay by filling any dents or scratches with paint on both the washer and dryer
  • Consider replacing rubber hoses with braided-metal

Regular washer and dryer maintenance gives homeowners the opportunity to understand their appliances better. Once you understand the machinery in your home, you'll be able to identify certain warning signs before they turn into a real problem. Don’t forget to check with your independent insurance agent to help keep your home protected.

Family in the kitchen.

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