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Troubleshooting tips and fixes if your tumble dryer breaks down during the coronavirus lockdown

With staying indoors being the only way to stop the spread of COVID-19, we give you tips on how to fix your dryer at home

Troubleshooting tips and fixes if your tumble dryer breaks down during the coronavirus lockdown

With the country confined to barracks for the foreseeable future, what can you do if your tumble dryer gives up the ghost? The good news is that for many tumble dryer problems, a bit of home troubleshooting can help you to fix the problem.

With all non-essential shops now all closed until 13 April 2020 at the earliest as part of government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, the only way to buy a new tumble dryer will be from online from retailers such as AO, Currys PC World, John Lewis & Partners and other independents.

Read on for all how to troubleshoot tumble dryer problems safely, our list of quick dryer checks and fixes, plus the full story on delivery and installation of new appliances from the major retailers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Head straight over to our tumble dryer reviews to find the best vented, condenser or energy-saving heat-pump dryer for you.

Why is my tumble dryer not working at all?

A dead-looking dryer is a dreadful sight to see if you’ve got a full load of wet washing you desperately need to dry. But do these simple checks before you call out an engineer or order a new machine – they might just save you time and money during the lockdown and could keep your dryer drying for years to come.

1. Is the tumble dryer plugged in and is it switched on at the mains?

Check that the dryer is actually plugged in, switched on at the mains and ready to go before doing anything else. The plug might have been pulled out of the socket or the switch could have been knocked to off.

2. Is the problem with the plug socket or the dryer’s plug?

Plug in another product and see whether it works through the same socket you usually use for the dryer. If it does, you know the socket is fine. If it doesn’t, the problem is likely to be with the socket.

3. Has the dryer’s dial clicked onto the correct program?

For dryers controlled through a dial, sometimes you’ll find that if the dial doesn’t quite click round to the right program, the dryer won’t work. Check to see that it’s pointing at the program you need rather than in between two options on the dial.

If after these preliminary checks your dryer still isn’t working, you’ll need to get a professional to take a look.

Coronavirus: Should I let a tradesperson or engineer into my home?

Why is my tumble dryer heating up but not drying my clothes properly?

If your tumble dryer is heating up and it feels warm inside, but your clothes are still left damp when the buzzer sounds, the cause is likely to be a problem with the airflow through your machine.

Here are a few checks you can carry out to troubleshoot this problem:

1. Is the fluff filter full?

Tumble dryers work by heating air and pushing it through the clothes in the drum to dry them.

As clothes rub against each other, fluff is produced and this is caught in a filter, usually in the door or along the door rim.

If there’s too much fluff in the filter, the quality of drying will fall and when it’s completely clogged, the dryer will stop working altogether until it has been cleared.

If this is the case, check the filter and clean off all the fluff. For best practice, and to make sure you are drying safely, do this after every drying session.

More tumble dry maintenance tips

2. Is the water tank full?

Condenser and heat-pump tumble dryers collect water from the drying clothes in a tank that can be emptied when full. Machines can also be set up to drain water away.

Another reason for your dryer not working could be that the water tank is full and just needs emptying. Most dryers will use LEDs or will beep to let owners know when this happens.

So, empty the water tank and see whether your machine springs back to life.

3. Is the heat exchanger bunged up?

Heat exchanger units extract water from the warm and damp air leaving the drum, and can become clogged up with hair and fluff. Over time, this build up can restrict airflow through the dryer and reduce the quality of drying.

You’ll find the heat exchanger in a drawer underneath the drum. Unclip it, remove it from the dryer, clean it by hand and then rinse it under the tap. It’s just a metal box that can slide in and out of the machine, so there are no electrical issues to worry about.

4. Is the hose blocked or kinked? (vented tumble dryers only)

If you have a vented dryer, you’ll need to make sure that the vent hose isn’t kinked as it leaves the dryer. If it is, or if it has become blocked, then even though your machine can produce heat, the airflow through it won’t be sufficient to dry your clothes properly.

Check out your hose to make sure it isn’t kinked or blocked.

If it looks fine, but the problem doesn’t go away, move on to the wall vent, if you have one, to make sure this isn’t blocked and that the flaps move freely.

Can an engineer fix my machine during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Companies offering service contracts for appliances, such as tumble dryers, including British Gas and HomeServe are still coming out to fix some but not all appliances.

British Gas logo

British Gas told us that it’s prioritising vulnerable customers and that non-essential appointments aren’t taking place in the coming weeks.

Repairs for refrigerators, cookers and washing machines would be considered essential. As there are other ways to dry your clothes, a tumble dryer might not be considered essential at the moment.

HomeServe told us that it continues to send engineers to deal with customers’ appliance problems including fixing tumble dryers, that the safety of its customers and staff is its priority and that it’s following the government’s guidelines.

Can I still buy a new tumble dryer during the COVID-19 lockdown?

If after carrying out all these checks your machine is still not drying properly and an expert engineer has told you that the machine can’t be fixed or can’t be fixed in an affordable way, you’ll still be able to buy a new machine online.

But measures taken by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19 mean that delivery and installation services are being amended by the major appliance retailers to protect customers and their staff.

We spoke to AO, Currys PC World and John Lewis to find out how they are adapting to serve customers in a safe, social distancing way.

AO told us that it’s still delivering large domestic appliances, such as tumble dryers, but it’s restricting some installation services and offering others with full social distancing procedures in place.

It will check in advance to find out if a customer is self-isolating or vulnerable and if they are, deliveries can be made to the doorstep with only absolutely essential installation services being provided.

Read about AO and its response to coronavirus.

Dixons Carphone, owners of Currys PC World, told us that it’s still delivering and that crews call customers on the day of delivery to agree a safe place to leave the items.

Delivery staff are supplied with safety gear and won’t go into homes if anyone inside is self-isolating or in quarantine.

Installation is now only provided for critical products, such as cookers and during installation, customers are asked to remain two metres away from staff.

Read more about Currys PC World’s coronavirus (COVID-19) delivery policy.

John Lewis & Partners told us that it’s still delivering large domestic appliances, such as tumble dryers, but it has paused its installation service due to the unfolding situation with the coronavirus pandemic.

Before delivery, John Lewis & Partners will call customers to ask if anybody living at the address has had COVID-19 symptoms resulting in them having to self-isolate. If they have, the delivery will be cancelled and re-booked for at least two weeks later. If everyone in the home is free of symptoms, deliveries can take place but will follow the two-metre social distancing rule.

For self-isolating people aged 70 or over, vulnerable adults and pregnant women, appliances such as tumble dryers will be delivered to an outbuilding or garage, with the customer’s consent. If they’re not self-isolating, deliveries that observe the social distancing rules can take place.

Read more on the John Lewis & Partners approach to coronavirus, deliveries and installations.

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