Vol.1, No.12

Balancing the dryer

Balancing the laundry dryer is a simple but important task that should be done before the unit is used to dry clothes.

A dryer with only a few wet clothes
Photo Credit: Gisele Wright
If you live in a home or an apartment where you are responsible for a washer and dryer, one of the things you will want to take note of is whether these pieces of heavy equipment are balanced. If not, they can create electrical or damage hazards. An unbalanced dryer may wear out a little more quickly than one that sits on the floor as it should.

To ensure that your dryer is balanced, here are some tips to follow for installation and each use:

1. After setting up and plugging in a new dryer, check the four legs, or feet, on the bottom of the unit to be sure they are screwed in correctly. Then see if the dryer sits evenly on the floor. If it does not, gently move it back and forth to see which leg is shorter or longer than the others. Attempt to re-insert the leg and screw it in tightly, but evenly, so that the dryer is level with the floor. Check to be sure it sits solidly on all four feet.

2. If you are still not sure, use a builder's level to check for balance. Lay the level on top of the dryer. Look to see if the bubble indicator sits evenly between two lines. If it does, your dryer should be level. If it doesn't, you may need to try adjusting the dryer a little more. Check the legs and shift the dryer slightly on the floor to see if you can get the level to reflect a balanced position.

3. Your floor may be uneven enough to warrant moving the dryer. You can try pushing it a few feet in another direction to see if the floor is more flat there. Or you can move the dryer (and probably the washer as well) to another location in your home altogether. This might be across the laundry room or another part of the basement. Look for a clean, dry area where the ground or floor seems to be even and flat. Try setting the dryer there and check the feet positioning first. If that looks okay, do the level test.

4. After you begin using the dryer, it can become uneven when a heavy load of laundry that is being dried pushes the unit around a bit. The dryer can drift or "walk" to one side as the heavy, wet laundry within thrashes to and fro. Simply adjust the load by removing part of the laundry and letting the rest dry first. Remember to load the dryer appropriately and avoid trying to overfill it, which can overwork the motor and cause the dryer to become unbalanced, perhaps evening breaking interior parts.

5. If your floor tile or concrete should crack or break, or experience upheaval due to moisture, the dryer may become unbalanced at that point. Keep an eye on the floor around your washer and dryer, especially if the washer ever overflows or the hoses should leak, as the excess water might damage the surrounding floor and lead to problems with balancing the washer and dryer.

This is one of those equipment tasks that you can probably handle yourself. However, if you are unable to get the dryer balanced or if another problem develops, it may be a good idea to call a repair person to come and check it out. Ask the service technician what you can do to head off the problem (and another service call) next time.