Common Dryer Air Flow Problems

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Good airflow is critical for the proper operation of a dryer. Much like a washer needs water, a dryer can only do its job efficiently when hot air can flow through without any problems. Still, these appliances do suffer from airflow problems from time to time. But what are the most common dryer airflow problems?

The two most common and familiar dryer airflow problems are a blocked lint filter or clogged dryer vents. However, airflow problems also happen because of damaged or blocked blower wheels, dryer vent covers that are stuck closed, and hidden clogs within the dryer unit itself. Most of these problems are preventable with regular cleaning and removal of lint or dirt before they build up and cause an airflow blockage.

Keep reading as we walk you through each of these common dryer airflow problems, and the steps you can take to prevent them from happening!

Blocked Lint Filter and Housing

As hot air flows through the dryer’s drum, it picks up plenty of lint. Lint consists of all the small pieces of fabric that come off the tumbling clothes and get blown along with the hot air. It’s very easy for lint to get caught along the dryer’s ventilation system and cause clogs.

The dryer’s first line of defense against those kinds of clogs and blockages is the lint filter and the housing that holds it in place. Unfortunately, this part of the dryer can get saturated with lint very quickly, causing a blockage that affects the overall air flow within the dryer.

How you can prevent it:

Preventing this problem is very straightforward. All you have to do is clean the lint filter and ensure that there isn’t any leftover lint inside the housing that holds it in place. This is the ‘easy’ part.

The challenging aspect of maintaining the lint filter is that you have to clean it very often. We recommend cleaning it every time before and after you dry a load of clothes. If you do not clean the lint filter after a while, not only will the air flow be affected inside the dryer.

Unfortunately, a lot of the lint will also escape into the dryer’s vents where it could form blockages that are much more challenging to clear.

Damaged or Blocked Blower Wheel

While the lint filter is the first line of defence against airflow problems, the blower wheel is what generates all that airflow in the first place. As the heating element nearby generates heat, the blower wheel spins to generate airflow, sending that heat to where it needs to go. 

That airflow forces the heat to move through the drum to remove moisture from tumbling clothes inside before it flows out of the machine.

Over time, the dryer wheel can get damaged or worn out. The dryer wheel’s blades could get bent or broken, which leads to very weak airflow through the dryer.

Besides that, it’s also common for dryer sheets to get sucked into the blower wheel’s compartment. When this happens, it causes a chain reaction. First, the dryer sheet will clog the wheel while also trapping any lint, dust or dirt that passes through. 

Over time, this will cause a more severe clog consisting of the torn-up dryer sheet combined with the lint, dust, and dirt that it catches.

How you can prevent it:

Dryer blower wheels will naturally get damaged or worn out over time. That will happen much quicker the more frequently you use the appliance. While there isn’t a way to stop this from happening, what you can do is solve the problem while it’s small before it makes the entire dryer unusable.

Be on the lookout for any signs that your blower wheel is starting to wear out or that it has become damaged. Common signs coming from the blower wheel compartment include

  • a squealing noise 
  • a rapid hitting noise that is sometimes mistaken for loud vibrations
  • a lack of airflow during the drying cycle, so clothes take longer to dry

When you notice these signs, it’s best to troubleshoot them immediately and replace the blower wheel instead of waiting for it to stop working entirely. That way, you’ll experience no downtime when it comes to your dryer.

You can also access the blower wheel compartment to inspect it for any clogs. First, disconnect the power supply from the appliance. Then, access the blower wheel compartment by removing any necessary panels.

Once there, you can remove most of the more extensive buildups of lint and dust by hand. Then, clean the remaining dust with a brush or use a vacuum on a lower setting to clean the compartment thoroughly.

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Hidden Internal Clogs

When dryers get clogged and airflow is jeopardised, many people assume it has something to do with the lint filter or the dryer vent. Both of those are common problem areas for the dryer’s airflow, but most people overlook potential clogs hidden inside the dryer unit itself.

Remember:

As hot air travels past the drum on its way to the vent hose, the air must still pass sections inside the dryer. Therefore, lint clogs could still form within the dryer even before the hot air enters the vent hose, in the sections between the lint filter and the exhaust connect with the vent hose.

How you can prevent it:

To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to clean out any buildup of lint and dust in the areas between the lint filter and the dryer’s exhaust. To do this, you must focus on the rear of the machine.

Always shut the dryer off and disconnect its power source before you perform a task like this.

First, remove the dryer vent hose from the dryer. That will allow you to reach into the dryer exhaust, which is the dryer part where you connect the vent hose.

Then, you can clean that area with a brush or a vacuum to remove any clogs.

Venting Hose Clogs

A common source of dryer airflow problems is the ventilation system that allows hot dryer air to escape outside of your home or building. The vent hose connects directly to the dryer’s exhaust and then terminates on the exterior of the building at the vent cover.

The most common reason for airflow problems is that lint, dust, and dirt have built up inside the venting hose. Most of that buildup originates from within the dryer, though some of it could also come in from the outside if the vent cover has been left broken for too long.

Related: Why Does Dryer Vent Keep Getting Clogged?

Besides that, flexible sections of the venting hose might have gotten kinked or crushed. For instance, a box in the attic may have fallen onto a flexible section of the venting hose, thereby restricting or blocking airflow entirely.

Lastly, the problem could also be the way that the dryer’s ventilation system is set up. For instance, venting hoses that run far too long through the attic or towards the roof are more susceptible to blockages.

Simply put, when the venting hose is too long, the lint and dust will have a more challenging time exiting the other side.

How you can prevent it:

The first and most crucial step to preventing this problem is to clean your dryer’s venting hoses at least once a year. If you use the dryer heavily, such as in a household with many family members, you must clean it twice a year or more frequently.

Besides that, it helps to ensure that the venting hose isn’t too long. Ideally, the dryer vent hose should terminate at the nearest wall possible. Doing that will minimize the distance that the air will have to travel to reach the outside.

Lastly, it’s crucial to minimize the use of flexible vent hoses. Flexible venting is necessary in some sections, but most of the venting should consist of semi-rigid or rigid ducting. That way, the vent is less likely to get kinked or crushed even if something falls onto it.

Stuck Dryer Vent Cover

So far, we’ve seen how air originates from the dryer’s blower wheel and travels through various sections before escaping outside. The final step in that journey is the dryer vent cover, which is where the vent hose terminates at the building’s exterior.

There are various types of vent covers. But what they have in common is that they close automatically whenever there isn’t any air coming out of the vent, i.e. when the dryer isn’t being used. That prevents outside air and dust from entering the dryer vent.

Unfortunately, there is a likelihood that the dryer vent cover is stuck in the ‘closed’ position, even when there’s plenty of air coming through the vent. When this happens, it will jeopardize the dryer’s airflow and affect its ability to dry your clothes.

How you can prevent it:

To prevent this, you should inspect the dryer vent cover on the outside of the home. You can use your hand to ensure that the vent cover can open and close freely without getting stuck.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Dryer Vent Is Blocked

It helps to clean any dust that might be stuck in the vent cover’s vanes. However, if you notice that those vents have rusted or fail to open and close freely, then you must replace it as soon as possible.

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