Once you have made a decision on whether you want an electric or gas dryer, there are some decisions to make about your gas dryer selection and placement. You'll find that gas dryers are a bit more expensive than comparable electric models, but are more economical to operate.
Gas dryers use either natural gas or propane as a heat source. Both types of fuel sources require a dedicated gas hook up. If no hook up is available in the space you plan to place the dryer, it will be necessary to hire a professional technician to install the line.
Since gas dryers produce carbon dioxide as a by-product of combustion, they should always be exhausted to the outside. Outside venting is also important to prevent the exhaustion of water vapor from damaging structures or causing mold and mildew growth.
How to Select a Gas Clothes Dryer
Before you begin shopping for your gas dryer, you should have the answers to each of these questions:
- Where will the dryer be located?
- Is there a gas line and electrical outlet readily available?
- What are the dimensions of the space where the dryer will be installed?
- Where will the dryer be exhausted?
- How much dryer capacity do I need?
- Which direction should the dryer door swing?
The obvious location for a gas dryer is as close as possible to an existing gas line and a 120V electrical outlet. It is also best to locate the dryer in an area that does not fall lower than 50 degrees F. The dryer will have to work much harder to reach optimal temperature if placed in an unheated or excessively high moisture location.
Standard widths for gas dryers is 27 inches to 29 inches. Standard height is around 43 inches. Compact models are available for apartments and smaller spaces. Gas-powered dryers can be set on a rack above a washer or stacked washer/dryer combos are available.
Gas dryers should be installed with a rigid exhaust system to avoid kinks that can trap lint or inhibit airflow. The exhaust run should be as straight and short as possible and cleaned regularly for optimum operation and safety.
How much dryer capacity you need depends upon the size of your family and your typical washer loads. Drum sizes vary from the ability to handle loads of five pounds to twenty pounds. You can find the drum capacity listed in the owner's manual.
How to Install a Gas Clothes Dryer
Gas dryers must be installed by a qualified technician. It's not just a matter of plugging it in like an electric dryer. Consult with your local natural gas provider for a capable dealer who can ensure proper installation.
Most models come with the hardware necessary to operate on natural gas. If you are using propane gas, you will need to purchase a gas conversion kit before installation can be done. It is also important that the gas dryer be completely level to prevent the rotating drum from causing damage and creating friction.
If you choose to do-it-yourself, follow installation steps carefully and NEVER test for gas leaks with an open flame. Use the soapy water test to look for bubbles. Whether it is the installation of a new gas dryer or a replacement dryer, new connector hoses should be used each time as a safety precaution. Use only AGA approved flexible lines.
How a Gas Clothes Dryer Works
Gas and electric clothes dryers perform in basically the same way. The clothes are dried by evaporating water from fabrics using heat, airflow, and tumbling action. In a gas dryer, a fan draws in fresh air and directs it over the gas burner where it's heated. The burner is thermostatically controlled and automatically ignited. The heated air is channeled through the drum where the clothes are tumbled. The warm air absorbs moisture and is exhausted from the dryer through a lint filter. This process continues until the desired amount of moisture is removed.
As an energy conservation feature, today's gas dryers do not use a continuously burning pilot light to ignite the gas burner. The pilot light has been replaced by electronic ignition systems. Some gas or electric clothes dryers receive Energy Star ratings since the amount of energy used does vary from model to model.
As with all-natural gas or propane appliances, gas dryers produce byproducts from combustion, primarily water vapor and carbon dioxide, the same elements we exhale when we breathe.
Care of a Gas Clothes Dryer
To keep your gas dryer working efficiently and looking nice follow these tips:
- Clean lint screen after each load; lint buildup reduces efficiency and could cause a fire.
- Clean exhaust ductwork and outside vent quarterly or more often as needed.
- Never dry materials stained with cleaning solvents, wax or paint.
- Do not place foam rubber or rubber-coated items in the dryer.
- Do not use the top of the dryer as a work surface other than for folding clothes. Most dryers have an enamel finish on the cabinet top and drum that is not as scratch-resistant as porcelain.
- Wipe down the dryer if bleach, detergent or laundry solvents are splashed onto the surface. They can remove the finish. Do not place wet, non-colorfast items on the dryer top because they can leave stains.
- Follow DIY repair tips before you pay for a service call.