Besides drying clothes, dryers also remove lint. This fine, fuzzy material can cause trouble because it blocks dryer lint traps, clogs vents, and fills blowers. Lint can also gather around and in the tracks of the drum rollers, or in and under the pulleys and the drive belt. The result is poor clothes drying or -- sometimes -- no drying. To avoid lint problems, clean out the dryer's lint trap system every time you use the dryer.
To clean the lint screen, remove it from the unit. The screen may be located near or under the door sill, or in the top of the dryer near the control panel. It can usually be removed by pulling it up and out of its housing. Remove the accumulated lint to clear the screen; then replace the screen.
The exhaust vent also collects lint. Vent maintenance involves cleaning the lint from a screen in the dryer's vent exhaust collar and/or at the end of the exhaust vent where it sticks out through a basement window or through an exterior wall. To clean the screen, remove the clamp that holds the vent to the collar, or back out the screws that hold the vent to the collar, or pull the vent straight off an extended collar. Clean the screen thoroughly and replace it in the vent assembly.
To clean the vent itself, use a vent-cleaning brush (available at hardware stores) to pull out any lint deposits. Also check the vent run to make sure that the vent piping or tubing isn't loose at the joints, or -- in the case of flexible plastic venting -- isn't sagging between hanging brackets. Breaks or sags cause undue strain on the dryer's blower system, and can cause drying problems. If the vent pipe or tubing has become clogged with lint, remove the lint by pushing a garden hose or a drain-and-trap auger through the vent to a convenient joint. Disassemble the joint to remove the debris. With this procedure, it isn't necessary to disassemble the entire vent to find the blockage.
You can head off problems before they become too serious by providing routine maintenance for your dryer's door gasket, thermostat, timer, and other frequently used parts. Let's discuss how to service these important components in the next section.