Appliance

Washers and Dryers

Washing Machines

This is another of the industrial revolutions great gifts to mankind. If you don’t appreciate clothes washing machines, just take your dirty laundry down to the river! Experience what it takes to get your clothing sparkling fresh and clean again by pounding it against a rock! Observe also how quickly your shirts deteriorate in the process.
Image of an antique washing machine with a gas motor
Early Maytag washing machine
The early Maytag automatic washing machines actually ran on small gas engines. These noisy things came with flexible exhaust pipes that could be aimed out the window while the laundry was in progress to avoid asphyxiation! We’ve come a long way for sure.
In all fairness, advances in soap technology has also played a huge role because with modern detergents, the washing machine can operate more gently and delicately on your expensive underwear. Recent technological advancements in washing machines include: front loading, low energy use, low water use, ultra-spin cycles to remove almost all the water, (thus saving drying time), variable load sizes and built-in, hand wash baskets for your delicate things.


Image of front load washing machine
Modern front load washing machine

To-Do

  • Find your appliance’s owner’s manual and place it in a secure location for instructions on your specific appliance. If you have lost the manual or want a second copy, you can usually find them on line.
  • I recommend that washing machines (and all water handling appliances for that matter) be fitted with an emergency drip pan in case of leaks. Especially if the appliance is located on or adjacent to expensive wood or painted finishes.
  • Stainless steel should only be cleaned with warm sudsy water or a special cleaner made specifically for stainless steel. Always wipe the surface of stainless steel in the direction of the “grain” only with a soft completely clean cloth.

Maintenance

  • 1x per month: Inspect and clean the drum interior and soap dispenser. If you have hard water and note lime scale beginning, consult your manual about using a descaling agent. Use only water to clean the soap dispenser as whatever is used here will end up in the next wash cycle. Run a rinse cycle after each cleaning.
  • 1x per year: Pull the washing machine out once a year to inspect the area for leaks, then thoroughly clean the area behind and on the floor.
  • 1x per year: Washing machines have two water hoses and a drain pipe that need to be inspected every year and checked for tightness to the water valves as well as to the appliance. Fully operate both hot and cold water valves to keep them working and avoid corrosion building up. Clean or replace the filter screens inside the hoses.
  • 1x per year: Check the grounded (three prong) electrical cord for any fraying and that it is well connected to the outlet.
  • 1x per year: Inspect the rubber gaskets around the main lid or door and remove any mold that may be developing.
  • 1x per year: Check the drain hose to be sure that it is firmly connected to the drain pipe and washer and that it is free flowing.
  • Every 5 years: Replace the water hoses every five years even if they look fine. Use only high quality, heavy duty hoses with good fittings and washers. If these hoses fail you have a risk of a damaging flood on your hands.

Dryers

If you have a washing machine you will likely want to have a clothes dryer to match. Dryers are simple appliances and basically tumble your clothes around in a hot environment, while extracting the moist air and exhausting it to the outdoors in order to dry them. Since the moisture is exhausted to the outside once extracted from the clothes, it is important to keep the exhaust ducts firmly connected, clean and free flowing. If the ducts don’t work, neither will the dryer. If your clothes are taking too long to dry, the cause is usually a clogged or poorly designed duct system. In addition, broken ducts can allow moist air to get into the home setting up a high humidity environment that is conducive to mold. Some models are now equipped with steam generators that apparently help to remove wrinkles from the clothing. Dryers can be had in electric or gas models.


To-Do

  • Regular service for the dryer is critical for both the home and the appliance. Without regular maintenance, the dryer will not work properly.
  • It is important that the built-in dryer screen be removed, cleaned and properly replaced after every use.
  • Find your appliance’s owner’s manual and place it in a secure location for instructions on your specific appliance. If you have lost the manual or want a second copy, you can usually find them on line.
  • If you have a gas dryer, continually sniff-check the area for possible gas leaks.
  • Stainless steel should only be cleaned with warm sudsy water or a special cleaner made specifically for stainless steel. Always wipe the surface of stainless steel in the direction of the “grain” only with a soft completely clean cloth.

Maintenance

  • 1x per year: The dryer needs to be pulled out of its resident space once a year and the area behind thoroughly cleaned and inspected.
  • 1x per year: The flexible duct connecting the appliance to the wall should be removed, inspected, cleaned and/or replaced. You must ensure that the duct is clean, intact, fully sealed and the connections are tight and leak free.
  • 1x per year: The duct from the wall to the exterior also needs to be thoroughly cleaned. There is a lint screen on your dryer that catches some of the lint from your clothes as they dry in the warm air circulating around on the interior of the appliance. When I say “some” of the lint, I mean the largest pieces. Smaller bits of lint get around or through the screen and end up in the dryer’s duct to the outside where it builds up over time and will eventually block air flow. This is why the duct needs to be thoroughly cleaned every year.
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