aj2x (aj2x) wrote,

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The lesson for this weekend (long Memorial Day weekend) was: Clean Your Filters.

Of the few Things That Must Be Done This Weekend that my wife set before me (principal of which was Celebrate Our Anniversary), two involved the laundry/old bathroom area of the house. She's been complaining for a couple weeks now that the clothes dryer part of our new washer-dryer is just getting slower and slower. She's had to reduce the size of the loads and still wait for over an hour for cotton things like jeans to dry. We've been not too satisfied with its performance from the beginning (the Sears repairman has been here twice already), and the contractor's cavalier attitude toward vent pipes seemed like a contributing factor to long drying times.

So I pulled apart the access panels and disassembled the dryer's exhaust. We ran the vacuum cleaner hose up the vent pipe as far as we could (it goes up, through the roof), which wasn't very far, and found only little bits of lint -- no big clog. I then went up in the attic and disconnected the flexible vent between the attic floor and the roof and looked down the pipe -- all clean, though the attachment point to the dryer had a jagged chunk of metal partly occluding the flow. I couldn't see anything looking up toward the roof vent.

As the last place to look, I got the binoculars and went out to see if I could discern anything about the roof vent. There were two vents on the roof in about the right place, both low black metal things. Ah, right -- one is for the dryer, the other is for the vent fan in the old bathroom. Focussing on each vent's outlet, the difference was obvious -- one was gray and the other black. I got the ladder out, climbed up on the roof and after a moment's fiddling with the anti-vermin screen, removed a plug of compacted lint from the screen of the dryer vent. It was about a quarter-inch thick, and very solid -- like homemade felt. A very effective plug.

We surmised that all that lint got past the built-in lint trap when we were trying out a pair of spiky balls that are supposed to be a non-chemical alternative to clothes softeners. (Like these.) They did make the clothes soft, but made so much noise and generated so much lint that we figured that they'd beat the clothes to dust in short order. They'll go in the yard sale.

The other little chore was the faucet in the old bathroom. It's a new single-handle type I installed on the old sink when the new bathroom was completed. Kay said it made a clunk the other day, and now only a trickle of water came out. I looked up the construction and repair of that type of faucet on the Internet -- where all the sites said that these types almost never fail. Naturally we couldn't find the receipt for the faucet (which we only bought, probably at Lowe's, maybe 4 months ago). I went to Lowe's to see what model looked like ours, and what replacement parts were available. The Peerless/Delta repair parts display was large but not organized by faucet model number. I thumbed through the rather generic How To Fix It booklet attached to the display and noted the exploded diagram's parts.

Back home, I turned off the supply lines under the sink and disassembled the faucet. It came apart easily (no years of accumulated corrosion!) and soon I was looking at the innards. No obvious breakage anywhere. But the little cavity that held the valve parts was full of water and not draining out the spigot. Hmmm. What did that little booklet say about low water flow? "Remove and clean the aerator." So I got a cap-snaffler from the kitchen and unscrewed the aerator to find it completely clogged with bits of crumbling black rubber. That doggone aerator had 7 parts to it, including three layers of screen, all of which had rubber granules in the various passages.

The rubber detritus removed, I reassembled the faucet, and all is working well again. I conjecture that the rubber came from the old original shutoff valves, which have gotten a workout in the last year -- I've changed that faucet three times!

So, the lesson is clear -- clean the filters first! Even if you don't know you have them!
Tags: dryer vent, filters, home ownership, lint, plumbing
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