Dryer wont dry- help!

I moved into what was up until that point a bank owned property on Halloween of 2008. The house had no appliances, so we picked up a used washer and dryer. The washer was (and is) fine, but the dryer just wasn’t drying. While the dryer would seem to warm up, even small loads of light clothes would take 2-3 90 minute cycles to dry. This was miserable, but we slacked on getting someone out to look at the machine.

That is, until the machine caught on fire.

Ok, there was no actual, visible fire, but the entire house filled with thick, black, plasticy smelling smoke and the inside of the dryer- previously white- turned a lovely shade of brown.

So, we figured that, that particular used dryer was a POS and bought a new one, which was delivered by GE yesterday. Everything is hooked up right (professional install), yet this dryer is doing the exact same thing as the old one. Looks like the problem isn’t the dryer.

What could be wrong?

The dryer is right in the middle of the house (between the living room and the kitchen) and I was told by a handy man that the dryer vent goes up, next to the staircase, and out onto the roof. Could there be a problem with this? Who do I call? Just a general repairman? A general washer dryer repair guy? GE? Should I just give up having dry clothes? :stuck_out_tongue:

Anywho, I clearly know nothing about such things.

It certainly sounds like your dryer vent is clogged.

Could be anything from a big ol’ mess of lint built up, a bird nest, dead rodents or even something as simple as the end cap where the vent pipe meets the outside world got crushed.

Should be a simple job for your handyman to check it out and fix. A few months ago, I bought a vent cleaning kit at the hardware store that’s got sections of flexible rods that screw together and a selection of brushes rather like a junior chimney sweep. Think it cost about thirty bucks.

Yep, clogged dryer vent. Happened to me last summer. If you can find the outlet, see if the lint is pressed up against that… if not, the whole pipe will have to be cleaned.

Aye, stupid dryer vent. I’ve never seen a house like this one before, as in all the other ones, the dryer vent was directly behind the dryer (I mean, the dryer was on an outside wall). In this house, the dryer is between the living room and kitchen, next to the stairs.

That’s why the last handyman said he thought it went up to the roof.

The animal thing is interesting, though. The air conditioner tech came out and said he saw evidence that a furry creature had been up by the AC, but he sprayed some crap and all should be well.

You say it seems to warm up? When you’ve let it run for a while, are your clothes hot but still soggy? If so, that would indicate a plugged vent because everything’s heating up and tumbling fine, but the air stagnates and the moisture stays in the machine. If your clothes seem kind of lukewarm, though, I’d lean more towards an electrical problem. A missing leg or generally wonky voltage can cause your dryer to only “sort of” work.

The plugged vent is more likely, but who knows with a house with an unknown history.

Lint is heavier than air. My bet is that vent has years of lint build-up and a few rat nests in it. Re rout the vent and animal-proof it… On second thought, your fire may have removed all the lint for you.

Definitely call GE since the appliance is still under warranty. There is a chance the problem is the lack of ventilation. When the vent gets clogged up you do experience a loss of heat.

Begin, if possible, by checking the exit for the vent. That’s a common place for lint to gather, in part because there is usually some sort of mechanism to keep out weather and animals (flap valves, whatever).

The next commonest locations are where there are bends in the course of the vent piping. Some dryer vent pipe is made of concentric rings hold very thin material into a pipe shape. It’s very easy to crimp this and create areas which tend to gather lint.

If you end up redoing the vent piping, I suggest using rigid sleeves, as these will not tend to clog as much.

It’s not likely a repairman for the appliance can help you much; I agree the most likely scenario is an obstructed vent.

But the problem is most likely a clogged vent. That’s not in the machine, and not GE’s problem. So it’s quite possible that this would NOT be covered under the warranty, and you would end up paying for a service call. And that will cost you a lot more than checking the vent pipe before calling a serviceman.

I was once an appliance repairman and I have seen this many times. Usually, it’s the vent piping. The ones that run up a wall and out through the attic are a particular problem because the moisture removed from your clothes has a strong likelihood of recondensing in the vent pipe, especially in cold weather. This gives the small amount of lint that makes it through the dryer’s lint filter stick to the pipe walls and after awhile, you get a clog. As Chief Pedant has pointed out, bends and the vent exit are the most common places for clogs to occur. Most dryers will vent through a wall with some type of flapper door. However, some will vent through the roof with a 4" pipe with a vent cap. There will be a screen inside this vent cap to keep out birds and insects. I would wager that this screen is the source of the clog. Once you clean it out, your dryer should work fine. It’s also a good idea to clean the remainder of the vent pipe while you are working on it and your vents should be good for the next ten years as long as you keep the dryer’s lint screen clean and in good repair.

You can also call an HVAC company. They can handle the duct repair if the clog turns out not to be at the exit and will know the appropriate length and number of bends for optimal ducting for your particular situation.

Also be sure that the vent actually vents outside, and not just into your attic. Every once in a while I hear stories of someone who decides that it’s a waste to pipes all that warm air outside, and they decide to warm the attic (or garage, or basement) with it instead.

In which case you probably have a lovely mold issue to deal with!

The coily-flexy vent ducts are no longer allowed in most places, because they clog and catch fire more frequently than rigid ducts. Ideally, the dryer is placed where only a short run of duct is necessary. More often the architect puts the laundry room smack dab in the middle.

Here’s a dryer vent kit. The search engines are kicking me in the ribs today, or I’d give you more info.


I wondered, “how do you clean a 15 foot vent with a 10 foot brush tool?” I duct-taped the end of it to the end of an electrician’s fish tape. With that, I can run the brush from one end of the duct to the other.

In my machete-hacking trek through the search engines, I found a surfeit of firms you can hire to do the job for you. My late father’s way of repairing things was, “Call somebody!” If that’s your approach, too, there are plenty of folks to help you out.