How to make a washer and dryer last

Appliances eventually wear out. Certain parts simply fail with time; it's inevitable. But appliance abuse and neglect can speed up the breakdown rate of washers and dryers, helping to keep appliance repairmen busy. Here are some of the most common ways homeowners contribute to appliance demise, along with advice for avoiding these errors.

How to make a washer and dryer last

1. Washing machine

Some washer parts are easy to replace, but a chipped or cracked inner tub can sound the death knell for your machine.

  • The exposed metal will rust – and keep rusting – and the rust will spot your clothes and linens.
  • The cost of the new tub plus labour to install it makes this repair prohibitively expensive.

2. Repairman's tip

Never wash anything with heavy metal fasteners.

  • Bonus tip: overloading your washer may not ruin it, but it will create wear and tear on certain parts that glide and spin, making these parts fail prematurely and forcing you to call the repairman or fix it yourself.
  • Be sure to always follow the manufacturer's suggestions for load size.

3. Clothes dryer

When the typical 5.5-kilogram (12-pound) load of laundry comes out of the washer, it contains two litres (a half-gallon) of water.

  • The dryer's job, of course, is to remove the water. It heats the clothes, converting water to water vapour and forcing it out of the dryer (and the house) through the exhaust vent, along with lint.
  • Dryers are designed to push this lint-laden wet air only so far — between about 12 and 27 metres (40 and 90 feet) when rigid metal pipe is used, but only half that when flexible tubing is used.
  • Every elbow in the pipe (around a corner, up a wall) dramatically cuts down on the maximum distance. Some newer homes have exhaust pipe runs of up to 60 metres (200 feet), making it impossible to adequately vent.

So what happens?

  • Your dryer has to work harder to dry your clothes (leading to potential part burnout), moisture problems arise in your home, and lint builds up in the machine and vent pipe.
  • This last consequence is the most serious, because lint is flammable and is estimated to be a major cause of dryer fires each year.

4. Repairman’s tip

Follow your dryer manual's instructions for proper venting.

  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting, making the pathway from the dryer to the outside vent as straight as possible.
  • Clean the lint filter before or after each load.
  • Clean the places in the dryer where lint collects — the back, around the mouth of the lint filter, around the door.
  • Once a year, have a professional clean the interior of your machine.
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