Between your washer and dryer, experts can usually agree that a dryer is the sturdier of the two. The fact that it doesn’t use water and that it has fewer parts than washers means that they are generally less complicated. And with proper maintenance and regular cleaning, a dryer can last for at least 10 years. 

But if your dryer has sputtered its last breath or if you’re looking for an upgrade for better laundry cycles, these are the six things you need to know:

1. Dryer vent cleaning and maintenance

Not all dryers come with vents. But the ones that do generally perform better and those always need regular cleaning. Dryer vent cleaning is recommended for people who regularly use their dryers, as lint (a highly flammable material) can build up and cause a house fire.

man cleaning dryer vent

In fact, house fires caused by neglected dryers are so common that the U.S. Fire Administration has stepped in to officially recommend a yearly professional cleaning. We recommend a professional job to make ensure your absolute safety.

2. Standard sizes of dryers

If this is your first time buying a dryer for your home, you may be surprised that dryers come in a variety of sizes. In fact, dryers generally come in five different sizes. 

A standard dryer can either be a front-loading or top-loading machine that is usually 27 inches wide, 27 or 28 inches deep and 34-43 inches high. A compact dryer is what is usually called a space-saver dryer and are usually ventless at 21-24 inches wide, 22 to 24 inches deep, and 33 to 34 inches wide. A high capacity dryer can have a depth of 32 to 34 inches but is generally similar to a standard dryer. And a combination dryer can come in any of these sizes and is a washer and dryer at the same time.

3. New wiring and plumbing

Generally, if you’re switching from like to like (say, from a standard gas dryer to another standard gas dryer), you won’t need to worry about wiring and plumbing.

before and after image of fixed dryer wiring

But if you’re switching from a gas dryer to an electric dryer, or if you’re upgrading your compact dryer to a standard or high capacity dryer, you will need to consult both an electrician and a plumber. They can check over your current plumbing and wiring situation to advise you on your dryer purchase.

4. Gas dryer vs electric dryer 

Gas dryers and electric dryers usually run at the same price range, but can have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the needs you have. A gas dryer may be more practical if your home already has a working gas line and it is usually the more environmentally-friendly option. 

But while electric dryers have slower drying times, they have an easier installation process and are easy to maintain.

5. Extra features

Browsing all the extra features on new high-end dryers can be fun, but they can also do a lot to inform you of the dryer’s performance and help you understand their cost. 

For example, dryers with moisture and dryness sensors, eco-dry features, and temperature options are extra features that cost more money but are also features that can help cut down energy costs with your laundry cycles. Weigh both sides carefully before making a purchase.

6. Disposing of your old dryer

man looking into a dryer vent hose

If you’re replacing your broken dryer, the store you’re buying from may offer to collect your old dryer when they come to install your new one. But if not, a still-working dryer can be donated and a broken dryer can be given to the local recycling office for its metal scraps.