Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Laundry Mountain Ahoy! How your dryer works.

Yes, my laundry pile (mountain) is begging for some attention. And it's made worse by one small simple thing...cat pee. Oh yes, this is not a good start to my day. When asking the kids (my first mistake) to bring up the baskets of clean laundry they confessed that while rooting through looking for clean socks they had inadvertently spilled clean laundry all over the floor. So I told them to pile it back into the basket and bring it upstairs (my second mistake) so we could sort it and put it away. Now this amounted to 3 full baskets of laundry. Upon arrival upstairs the aforementioned laundry sat unattended for another day because we had guests for dinner and you know how it goes...why do today what you can put off till tomorrow (my third mistake). Unbeknown to me, the cat litter box had not been scooped that day and in protest one of our aged kitties peed on a shirt that was on the floor. This shirt then was mixed with all the other laundry imparting it's lovely odour to all the clean laundry. Sigh. So now I have to thoroughly wash ALL the laundry again plus do the stuff from this week. It's my own fault I know. So that's what I'm doing right now...laundry. It's gross, but necessary. Thank goodness for bleach and Amaze (it's an odour and stain remover, fab for diapers).

Hang on...I have to switch a load of towels into the dryer (which I just broke th handle on). I'm very grateful my handy husband can fix all the things I break :)

Ok. There's a load in the dryer and another load onto wash. The dryer lint screen is clean (that's actually very important you know) and now I can relax for a few minutes.

So how often do you clean out the lint screen? Be honest. I know there's somebody out there thinking...there isn't one in my machine...but just because you don't know it, doesn't mean it's not there. Some are inside the door, some are on top. It's important to clean the screen with every load or two. Steve says every load and I say that some loads make almost no lint and since it's hard to peel off such a little bit that I wait until after the second load. Our kids however wait until there are layers of lint so that you can tell how many load they've done. But why is it important you ask? Well, one word....FIRE! Have you ever used lint as a fire starter? Lovely stuff! A massive build-up of lint can cause your machine to run very hot and *poof* there's your fire. It won't burn long or too hot but a fire inside a machine is never a good thing. It burns off wires, melts plastic components and stinks. Sure, there's a thermostat and thermal coupling that will turn off the heating element if it gets too hot but if you've already got a fire then it won't matter. Lint fires also tend to smolder and fill your house with smoke.

But don't panic. Dryer fires are rare. I've only heard of 3 or 4 in the last few years. The number one reason you should clean out your lint is this...MONEY! Your dryer relies on not just heat but a flow of air that removes the moisture from the clothes and then blows outside. Restrict the air flow and clothes take longer to dry which uses more power which costs you money. For the best airflow you should have a clean lint filter and your duct should be clean too with a working cap at the outside end allowing air to go through. A certain amount of lint builds up over time in a dryer hose so here are some tips. Make sure that the hose is properly clamped to the dryer outlet and that the hose isn't pinched. Make the run to the outside as short and straight as possible, avoiding sharp corners in the hose. Rigid pipe works better is you can use it but any clean hose that's the correct diameter (usually 4 inches) will work. Have your hose cleaned at the same time you have your air vents in your home cleaned. If your dryer seems to be taking longer and longer to dry clothes and yet it still seems hot, go outside and see where the dryer vent is. Make sure that the little flaps are working if you have them or if not, check that the air can exit freely and that there aren't plants in the way or rodents nesting in there. You should check your hose for leaks and kinks at least once a year, it's not a bad idea to pull out both your machines and give them a good clean. I always find a bunch of socks that have worked their way behind the machines and the floor is grungy so I clean that too. If you're worried that your machine might have too much lint, call an appliance technician to check it out. Or send me a message. It's not hard to remove the back panel and give everything a quick vacuum just to be on the safe side, and a small amount of lint is normal.

I hope I haven't scared anyone.

Washing machines are easier for the homeowner to maintain. Watch for water leaks and change your hoses every 5 years. That's pretty much it. If you have an older model with a screen filter you need to clean that, but most new machines are self-cleaning. Front loaders should be stored with the door ajar to allow it to dry inside and prevent smells or you can use that cleaning product called Affresh once a month. I usually just use a little bleach on a quick cycle but I'm cheap. And besides, I sold my washer before we moved so now I have a toploader again. I really like the front loaders though. Cheaper on soap, good cleaning, less water, and blankets fit without getting wrapped around the agitator. They are great for anyone who is water conscious such as people with a low flow well. For best results with all washing machines, use the correct amount of soap, pre-treat stains, and wash a full load for best efficiency. For really dried on marks let the machine run for 2 minutes, then shut it off and let it sit for an hour. Start the machine again and run as normal. Some things like dirt and grease need a little extra time to soak out.

Well I'm off to do more laundry. It's a gorgeous day so I might hang some blankets outside to dry. Hope your weather is as fine as ours.

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