Dryer Maintenance D.I.Y. (Part 3)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/Stephanie Horrocks)

Bruce Beggs |

Know the limits of your knowledge and skill

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 third in a four-part series.

Q: When a store owner or attendant is doing their own maintenance, is there danger of them doing something that could void a machine’s warranty?

Russ Cooper, manager of technical service, Dexter Laundry: As long as they are not modifying the equipment in any way, we have no concerns of owners doing something that we would consider a breach of the warranty. Only good things can come of maintaining your equipment. By maintaining your equipment, you can expect better efficiency, longer life, fewer breakdowns and less expensive repairs when they do occur and, of course, happy customers!

Mike Besaw, director of technical services, Alliance Laundry Systems, for Huebsch: The typical preventative maintenance can be completed by most store owners, but care should be taken when vacuuming or removing controls so that components are not damaged during the cleaning process. The manufacturer’s warranty covers defects in material or workmanship, but not parts damaged when performing preventative maintenance.

Chris Brick, product and brand training manager, Maytag® Commercial Laundry and American Dryer: A store owner should always read the manufacturer’s Use and Care guide before performing a maintenance service. Every manufacturer enforces warranties differently, so it’s important to be aware of the specifics.

Gary Brown, vice president of engineering, Laundrylux, distributor for Electrolux and Wascomat: Yes. Manufacturer warranties cover defects in material and workmanship provided by the manufacturer. Damage that results from improper maintenance or diagnostic procedures is not covered, and such damage is, on occasion, so severe that the product warranty is jeopardized.

Gary Clark, product performance and training manager, Continental Girbau: Almost all aspects of maintenance shouldn’t impact the warranty. Things that can impact a warranty:

  • Parts are replaced that aren’t bad
  • Parts are not from the equipment manufacturer (aftermarket or are another brand)
  • Parts are installed incorrectly

Always refer to your manufacturer’s warranty bond for specifics regarding warranty. I recommend leaving part replacement to an authorized technical service person (distributors only).

Aaron Burningham, laundry sales and service consultant, Evans Commercial Laundry Equipment, a Speed Queen distributor: Yes. By not using genuine factory replacement parts, you can void the specific part warranty, and if using the incorrect part, you can cause further machine damage or fire resulting in machine loss and possible injury.

Q: What is the biggest mistake that a store owner or attendant can commit when trying to maintain equipment on their own?

Clark: Most owners and attendants try and do more than what they are capable of, especially when it comes to electrical testing. They do not realize that if they make the slightest mistake, it can harm or even kill them. They will tend to do more damage, which will end up costing them more than a good authorized technical service professional will charge them to do things correctly.

Brown: Getting in over their head. It’s most important for owners to know the limit of their knowledge and skill, and never attempt to repair systems within the product for which they are not qualified to be making such repairs.

Burningham: The biggest mistake one can make is not using genuine factory parts, as well as doing repairs that he/she does not feel comfortable performing because the owner feels that having a service technician out is too costly.

Cooper: Not paying attention to how things came apart or not putting things back together correctly. I always recommend that you use your smartphone to take pictures as you disassemble so that if you have any questions during reassembly, you have that reference to look back on.

Besaw: One of the best tips for store owners is to use OEM parts. While many “knock-off” parts are available and at first glance appear to be the same quality of the OEM part, they are not. It’s quite tempting to install these parts believing that you are saving money but in reality you end up costing more. The “knock-off” part does not hold up like the OEM part and in some cases will cause additional damage to other components when it fails.

This is especially key when replacing electrical components such as ignition systems. OEMs have to ensure these parts meet all gas safety regulations and that the parts are certified to these standards. Always check the electrical components you purchase to ensure that either the UL or CSA approvals are displayed on the part. If they are not present, don’t risk installing them, as they could cause severe damage to your customers and your laundry.

Brick: The biggest mistake commonly made is not performing regular maintenance. Mistakes can also occur when a store owner or attendant is not equipped to make minor repairs, or are not mechanically inclined to detect small issues on machines. Incidents like these can potentially turn into a major expense if not addressed in a timely manner.

Check back Wednesday for the conclusion!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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