Some of us are conscientious about cleaning our clothes dryer lint filter, while others not so much. After all, ignoring it after one cycle can’t be too bad, right? We’ll get to it next time, right? Unless we forget…

We’ve all read the same warnings about the Apocalypse that awaits us if we skip cleaning the filter. The dryer will catch fire! Reduced to ashes along with all the mismatched socks inside! Happens ALL the time!

I don’t mean to be patronizing; lint is after all very flammable, and a fire is no joking matter. But the reality is that clothes dryers come with features to prevent just such a disaster, and these features are the real problem you’ll encounter if the lint on your filter exceeds the thickness of a pork chop.

A few years ago, my dryer stopped working. Oh, it spun like a carousel all right, but generated no heat, reduced to drying clothes by friction and the passage of time. Being of an inquisitive nature, having a mechanical bent and not wanting to shell out the big bucks for a professional repairman, I decided to see what went wrong and try to repair the machine myself. These were my findings:

  1. The dryer stopped heating because the lint filter was clogged like a toddler’s nose in January.
  2. There is perhaps no other appliance made that is more complicated to repair than a clothes dryer: it has to be disassembled almost down to the frame to get to the Stuff that makes it work.
  3. There are at least six or seven electrical sensors throughout the machine that stop it from heating if they determine that you’ve been a lousy homeowner. And God forbid they should be all in one spot.
  4. The best way to repair a clothes dryer is in the middle of a wide-open, brightly lit space. Laundry rooms are neither wide-open nor brightly lit.
  5. It is possible, with the requisite amount of stubbornness, the help of the internets and ownership of a multimeter to test every sensor hidden in the bowels of the dryer and determine which one crapped out.
  6. It is also possible to buy replacement sensors from tiny stores that cater to actual repairmen, as long as you have the correct 18-digit part number.
  7. Repairing a clothes dryer all by your lonesome is a gratifying experience, one that will fill you with pride and pretty much insure that you will never again forget to clean the lint filter after every use.

Machines have become smart enough to protect us from ourselves, and clothes dryers are no exception. But unless you have a good amount of money for a service call or have nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon and evening, do yourself a huge favor and follow the maintenance instructions for every appliance, not just a dryer.

Your knees and knuckles will thank you.

Bo Twerdowsky

Real estate agent, self-professed computer geek, grammar policeman, proud father of two. Opinionated, questioning, intolerant of stuffy sorts devoid of a sense of humor.