Selecting the right dryer
Buying a clothes dryer for your home is a fairly simple decision
process. Once you have read this report, your buying decision might even be a
Four manufacturers produce the clothes dryers that account for 80% of
dryer sales in America. Those four primary brands are: GE, Maytag,
Kenmore (a Sears brand), and Whirlpool.
There are other generic brand names that are sold in the marketplace,
and most of those are subsidiaries of the major manufacturing companies.
Maytag makes Amana. Electrolux makes Frigidaire, Westinghouse, and
White-Westinghouse appliances. GE makes Hotpoint. And, both KitchenAid and
Roper are made by Whirlpool.
There are really only five choices to make when choosing your next
1. Size of Tub
2. Gas or Electric
3. Thermostat or Moisture Sensor Shutoff
4. Quiet Dry
5. Other Gadgets
SIZE OF TUB
There are three basic size designations in washers and dryers. There is
Extra Large Capacity, Super Capacity and Super Capacity Plus, or a
variation thereof. The actual volume difference between each of these size
designations is really quite small on the grand scheme of things.
Usually, we are talking an extra pair or two of blue jeans for each size
When selecting the size capacity of a machine, it might be all right
(though not recommended) to mix up your machine purchases, but you do not
want to have your dryer size smaller than your washer size. It would be
a real pain to fill your washer, wash your clothes, and then not be
able to get all of your clothes into the dryer!
If there are one or two people in your household, then the Extra Large
Capacity could make sense. But, if you have a house full of children,
you should go ahead and spend the extra money to get a larger-sized
machine. If your wife has one of the smaller machines, she will certainly
have to run more loads in order to wash everyone's laundry.
Generally, if you have four people in your home, you will have to do
two extra loads of laundry using the Extra Large Capacity, instead of the
Super Capacity Plus machine. More loads of laundry equates to more
water usage, more heating fuel usage (electric or gas), and a grumpier
wife, since she spends an extra two to three hours a week doing laundry.
That -0 you are saving now, may cost you well over that amount over
the life of your washer and dryer.
GAS OR ELECTRIC
The person who built your house usually makes the gas or electric
decision for you, whether you like it or not. Most homes have either a
240-volt plug or a gas connector in the laundry room. Few, if any, builders
put in both options.
If your home is equipped with the 240-volt plug, I highly recommend
that you look to see if your plug is a three- or four-prong plug, prior to
going to the store. Appliance manufacturers sell the actual dryer cords
separate from the dryer. So, the retailer will ask you which plug you
need with your machine.
If you want to save the ten dollars or so, you can use the dryer cord
that is on the clothes dryer you are replacing. If the dryer cord that
is currently on your machine is flimsy or brittle, I would strongly
suggest buying the new cord. To do otherwise leaves your home vulnerable to
a fire hazard.
If you have the choice between gas and electricity for your clothes
dryer, gas machines will generally run another or so. If you have to
change your laundry configuration from gas to electric, you may very
well spend that much on the electrician alone. Additionally, it is a
well-known fact that gas dryers use less energy than electric dryers. So,
over the long haul, your gas dryer will be more economical than your
electric dryer --- even Consumer Reports recommends that you buy the gas
dryer for this very reason.
THERMOSTAT OR MOISTURE SENSOR SHUTOFF
Thermostat controlled dryers are the dryers that only give you an
option for timed drying.
More expensive dryers give you the option for timed drying or Moisture
Sensor Shutoffs. Each manufacturer describes the Moisture Sensor
Shutoff in different ways. Whirlpool calls it AccuDry. Some manufacturers
refer to it as Energy Saver. Whatever they call it, the concept is the
same. It has a moisture-sensor in the tub, and when the humidity level
drops below a certain level, the machine will decide that the clothes are
dry, and the dryer will shut off on its own.
Consumer Reports deems this an essential feature on any dryer that you
might buy. The reasons are many:
1. Overdrying can damage or shrink fabrics, and moisture sensors will
minimize this risk.
2. By shutting itself off when the clothes are done drying, you are no
longer forced to waste gas or electricity drying "already dry"
3. By running the dryer for a shorter period of time, you can wash more
clothes in less time. Your wife will thank you.
Some machines have an extra quiet motor. It made a big difference in my
home, since our laundry room is less than twenty feet from our living
room. With our old, cheap dryer, we would need to turn our television
up, if we were running laundry while we were in the living room. Just the
very experience of drying clothes was enough to give me a headache.
With our new quiet dry machine, we are not even aware that the dryer is
running, until the buzzer goes off telling us that it is done.
Clothes dryers cannot really get that technical. The additional options
that are available on some machines are: heat level and special fabric
settings. Really, they are the same thing, but the fabric settings take
a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out what temperature you can run
for each your fabric types.
Some machines have a buzzer to let you know when the dryer is finished.
This one is nice sometimes, especially if you are trying to do as much
laundry as you can in a short time span.
Lights inside the drum are a nice addition, though not always
TIPS TO EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR DRYER
Keeping good airflow in your machine is the one, essential step you can
take to get the most life out of your clothes dryer. There are several
factors that can affect airflow, and we will cover those factors
Any reduction in airflow creates several problems.
1. A clogged dryer is less efficient and uses more gas or electric to
2. It puts additional wear-and-tear on the machine's motor.
3. And, most importantly, it creates a fire hazard.
All of the manufacturers and Consumer Reports recommend using either
rigid or flexible metal ducting for exhaust ventilation tubing. They
strongly recommend against using the plastic or foil exhaust ventilation
tubes. The reasons are many.
1. They are notorious collectors of lint, and can get clogged
2. The can be stepped on and crushed, preventing good airflow.
3. They can sag, also preventing proper airflow.
4. They can easily be torn and damaged.
Anytime the ventilation tube gets clogged or blocked, it can force lint
to back up into your dryer causing additional blockages.
Even with metal ducting, you should clean out your ventilation tube
once a year.
Some appliance manufacturers put the lint filter in the door, while
others put it on top of the machine. For ease of cleaning, it is a matter
of personal preference.
It is very important that you should clean your lint filter between
each use. If you fail to clean it between each load, you run the risk of
having the lint fall back into the internal components of the machine.
Any accumulations of lint are always a fire hazard.
Excess lint in your dryer can ignite and catch fire. This could easily
destroy your dryer, and very possibly catch your house on fire.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal suggested that dryer lint is the
perfect companion for camping or hiking trips, since it is light and
easy-to-carry, and it makes excellent kindling for your campfire.
For more fire prevention and safety tips in connection with your
clothes dryer, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5022.html
THE ODD AND UNKNOWN BYPRODUCT OF DRYER SHEETS:
If you use dryer sheets when you dry your clothes, then you need to pay
special attention to this tip.
Dryer sheets can reduce static and add a nice scent to your laundry,
because they have chemicals in them. What few people realize is that
these chemicals are released from the dryer sheet when they are heated, and
they fill the hot air inside of your dryer.
As the machine is running, and after the cycle is finished, these
chemicals settle on the various components inside your dryer, including the
lint filters. After a period of time, these chemicals can create a
clear, unseen barrier to your dryer's airflow.
Test this idea. Pull your lint filter from your machine and run it
under water. Where the water pools and does not flow through, those
chemicals have created an impenetrable barrier to your dryer's airflow.
Every few months, you should wash out your lint filter using soap,
water and a sponge, to keep airflow at its optimum.
Finding the right clothes dryer, for your own needs, does not have to
be a difficult process. With a little knowledge, you can make a good
decision. I hope this report has given you the information that you will
need to make your decision easier.
Using the additional tips provided in this report, you should be able
to keep your utility bills lower and to extend the life of your clothes
dryers by another several years. If you take good care of your clothes
dryer, your clothes dryer will take really good care of you for many
years to come.
Home Improvement Resources