CHICAGO — The success of any self-service laundry is based in large part on the availability and performance of its equipment. And while washers and dryers can be considered “equals,” it’s the dryers that customers use last and perhaps remember best, whether positively or negatively.
Therefore, dryer maintenance is of great importance. But just how much should you do yourself and how much should you leave to the “professionals”?
American Coin-Op invited representatives from the industry’s dryer manufacturers to answer questions to tell us what the average store owner should maintain themselves and where to draw the line. This is the first in a four-part series.
Q: What aspects of dryer maintenance should a store owner or attendant with a fundamental knowledge of dryer operation feel confident about performing themselves, and what aspects should they leave to the experts?
Mike Besaw, director of technical services, Alliance Laundry Systems, for Huebsch: Dryer maintenance is mostly about keeping the unit clean from excessive lint buildup on the filters, coin drop or card reader, fans and burner tubes (gas heat), as well as checking for foreign objects or melted material. All of these tasks can be completed by store owners or attendants. The annual maintenance of removing panels to clean inside the unit depends on the owner’s comfort level. While not difficult, it does require that the unit be disconnected from electrical power and the gas/steam needs to be shut off in order for this service to be completed.
Chris Brick, product and brand training manager, Maytag® Commercial Laundry and American Dryer: Basic equipment maintenance is relatively easy and can help to prevent bigger service issues down the road. However, receiving training from a distributor before performing complex maintenance, such as changing a dryer basket, is highly suggested. This helps to ensure that appropriate techniques, tools and supplies are incorporated into the process properly. A couple quick reminders: It’s imperative to always turn off a machine’s power before beginning maintenance, and know when to call the experts if a job is too big.
Gary Brown, vice president of engineering, Laundrylux: In owner-accessible areas of the machine, including the lint drawer and its compartment, as well as louvers and screens on fresh-air inlets and exhaust ducts, frequent inspection and thorough cleanings can prevent lint accumulations that will eventually affect performance of the equipment and, for some manufacturers’ machines, significantly increase the risk of developing dangerous conditions. In the fan compartment of the machine, and in the exhaust ducts leading to outdoors, cleaning becomes more of a professional job.
Cleaning lint from coin-selector optic switches to prevent the addition of drying time from movement of the lint is also an easy task on most products and can be done by an owner with a can of compressed air. Inspection, cleaning and replacement of door gaskets and lint-compartment seals is also typically quite easy.
Cabinet and door cleaning, using only a non-volatile, general-purpose cleaner suitable for painted surfaces, will keep the equipment looking new and cared-for.
Because of the risk of personal injury and property damage, mechanical and electrical repairs beyond the relatively simple items I listed should only be carried out by knowledgeable and skilled professionals. By law, in most localities, electrical and gas maintenance and repair must be done by properly licensed and insured tradesmen.
Aaron Burningham, laundry sales and service consultant, Evans Commercial Laundry Equipment, a Speed Queen distributor: With the proper training from a distributor, Laundromat owners should feel confident enough to handle most general maintenance needs for dryers, including inspecting the inside and outside of the dryer for damage or objects that can impede the operation of the dryer; removing front panel and lint door/screen assemblies to clean; and checking thermostats. Laundromat owners should also remove lint and other debris from inside tumblers and exhaust ducts, as well as perform basic troubleshooting from belt replacements that are too loose or damaged, and make cylinder adjustments.
A Laundromat owner should contact a servicing company when the owner feels the necessary repairs are above his/her ability or when it concerns the utilities (gas, electric, steam). We strongly encourage our customers to get to know their equipment as well as possible because it helps them recognize any problems should they arise.
Gary Clark, product performance and training manager, Continental Girbau: An attendant or owner should be able to carry out almost all of the required dryer preventive maintenance. Some attendants and owners are even capable of performing some parts replacements. We find that most struggle with troubleshooting electrical problems, even though most want to try. The majority of store owners and attendants will want to leave electrical work to the authorized technical service experts.
Russ Cooper, manager of technical service, Dexter Laundry: Dryers tend to be much simpler than washers. The majority of the maintenance necessary simply involves removing lint from various compartments and components.
Without removing any service panels, any attendant with a vacuum can clear lint from the lint screens, the internal lint tray area, as well as all exposed areas on the back of the dryer. Beyond this, most any other lint removal can be accomplished by removing easy-to-access covers on the rear of the dryer. Belt replacement, pulley greasing and bolt tension checks are also easy to perform and in many cases described in detail on many manufacturers’ websites, even in video format.
As far as maintenance I would leave for the pros, full ductwork clean-out from the dryer to the exhaust on the roof or back wall is a larger job that requires some amount of specialty equipment.
Check back Thursday for Part 2, including the primary maintenance tasks a store owner can perform and how often they should be done.