Maintenance Tips for Washers and Dryers
Many people are aware of the dangers posed by certain home appliances, most notably washers and dryers. Each year clothes dryers cause millions of dollars in damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries. Failure to clean is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. The average loss per dryer fire in a residential building is over $9,100. The risk of fire is slightly higher for gas-fueled clothes dryers than for electric-powered clothes dryers. The leading cause, 29% of fires, of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean.
Damage from a dryer fire
By spending about an hour of your time and around $100 dollars you can reduce the risk to your home from a fire or flood and make your appliances more efficient as well.
You can drastically reduce the chances of an accident by replacing your washing machine’s rubber hoses with braided steel ones that can't split open. Replacing your dryer's flexible vinyl duct with a sheet metal one will reduce the fire risk by making it easier to clean. Not only is the vinyl duct impossible to clean, it is also flammable.
Excessive lint in dryer vent ductwork
After upgrading the connections to your appliances you should create a schedule to inspect the hoses and clean the dryer vent every six months to a year. Keep in mind that hoses should be replaced every 5 years unless they have a warranty that goes beyond that time period. One manufacturer (FloodChek) offers a 20 year warranty. You may also want to check with your insurance company to see if you can get your rate reduced by installing approved hoses.
Dryer cleaning brush kit
Washing Machine Hoses
Drip Pan, if necessary
4-Inch Round Steel Duct and 90-Degree Elbows
Aluminum Duct Tape
1. Remove the Washer Hoses
Shut off the hot and cold water valves, unplug the power cord, and remove the drain hose from the drain. Inspect the drain hose for cracks and replace it with the same type of hose. Put a towel or bucket under the supply hoses to catch any water, and then remove the hoses with a pair of adjustable pliers.
2. Water Supply Filter Screens
Did you know that there are filter screens in the washing machine water connections? Debris and sediment will slow the flow of water into the machine so while you have the hoses off, check the filters and clean out any buildup with a bristle brush.
3. Install New Hoses
Whether you choose stainless steel braided hoses or high-quality rubber hoses, purchase the ones with the longest warranty and check to see if they are rated by an independent rating agency. Screw the hose fittings onto the washer’s threaded nipples and then tighten gently with pliers. Make sure the hose is long enough to allow you to move the machine if necessary; 60 inches is convenient for most installations. Note: Make sure that there is washer inside each end of the supply hose and that it is not twisted of damaged.
Connect the other ends of the braided hoses to the water shut off valves. Make sure to match the hot hose with the hot-water supply and the cold with the cold supply. Open the valves and check for leaks. Reconnect the drain hose to the drain unless you are installing a drip pan.
4. Installing a Drip Pan
By installing a drip pan under the washer you can catch small leaks and they are required in second-floor laundry rooms. Look in plumbing-supply stores or home centers for a pan with a drain so any water that collects can be diverted to a floor drain. You may need a helper to lift the washer gently onto the pan so as not to crack it. Washers are fairly heavy as there is a cement counterweight inside the bottom of the frame. If you do not have a convenient place to run the drain line to, you may just want to use the drip pan as a catch basin and install a water leak alarm in the bottom of it to warn you when water is in the pan.
5. Lint Trap Cleaning
Pull out the lint screen in the dryer and push a snorkel brush straight down into the trap. Twirl the brush to remove any large pieces of lint at the bottom of the trap. You may also use a long crevice tool attachment on a shop vac. Look down the trap with a flashlight to make sure it's clean.
6. Clean the Dryer Duct
Disconnect the ductwork from the dryer exhaust and from the exterior vent. If the duct is vinyl or ribbed metal, remove it. If the duct is smooth sheet metal remove all of the pieces and take it outside to clean the inside with a round vent brush.
7. Cleaning the Vent
From the inside, insert the round vent brush into the duct in the wall and spin the vent brush a few inches and remove it and clean. Continue this process going a few inches at a time until you reach the outside exhaust hood. You may create a clog if you try to push the lint all the way out. From the outside and make sure the vent hood is cleared. If required, remove the hood and clean it before replacing it.
8. Reattach the Duct
Reassemble the metal ductwork and seal the joints with aluminum tape. Tip: Don't connect the sections with screws as this will create a point where lint will collect. The ends of the ductwork should fit securely onto the dryer exhaust and vent hood without the need for tape or hose clamps.