By Rick Murphy, sales manager for Whirlpool Corporation Commercial Laundry
You’ve made the jump. You’ve invested in energy- and water-efficient equipment. You’ve consulted a trusted distributor and chose the right mix for your on-premises (OPL) facility. You’ve installed the product correctly and left ample space behind the washers and dryers, should servicing be needed. You’ve tackled the first step. But what now? As with any investment, a product’s true value cannot be attained without proper care. To ensure laundry equipment longevity, it’s important to incorporate simple preventative maintenance, and perform those tasks regularly.
Ignoring routine equipment care can lead to many issues. For washers, that can include buildup on or around the detergent dispenser and clogged drain pumps. And with dryers, problems can include dust buildup, clogged lint trays and overheating. No matter the type of OPL facility, or the equipment it contains—whether that’s front-load, standalone or stacked washers and dryers—frequent detergent spills and debris accumulation not only make a laundry room look messy, but also affect equipment performance.
Washer and Dryer Maintenance
Basic equipment care is relatively easy and can help prevent bigger service issues down the road. Before doing anything, however, owners and operators should read the manufacturer’s Use and Care guide. In addition, receiving training from a distributor before resolving a complex issue, such as changing a dryer basket, is highly recommended. This helps to ensure appropriate techniques, tools and parts are incorporated into the process properly. Two quick reminders: Turn off the machine’s power before beginning maintenance and know when to call an expert if a job is too big. And, train staff so each employee is equipped to participate in a facility’s on-going preventative maintenance program. Ideally, specific tasks are implemented on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
Clean the front of washers and dryers, as well as surrounding floors and walls, to reduce dirt, dust and lint buildup. The best way to wipe up spills or residue is with a soft cloth or sponge dipped in mild soap and water.
For dryers, facility owners should check baskets for nails, screws and other objects that could damage the machine. In addition, the lint compartment should be cleaned periodically throughout the day. This will help eliminate blockage that can impact flow of combustion and air ventilation. And, since no one wants to encounter a laundry room fire, make sure staff keeps the floors clean and free from combustible and flammable materials.
There are a variety of tasks that should be performed every 30 days. For washers, clean the interior of the machines’ baskets. Staff should also consider pulling back the colored seal, or bellow (located between the door opening and basket), to inspect for unwanted objects, such as stray socks. Once the area is clear, the next step is to look for stains. If stains are found, wipe down the bellow with a cloth soaked in a diluted solution—such as one cup of liquid chlorine bleach and one gallon of warm tap water—and let it stand for five minutes. Then, wipe the area thoroughly with a dry cloth, allowing the inside of the washer to dry with the door open.
For dryers, vacuum the inner cabinet to reduce dust buildup and ensure lint is not collecting on temperature probes. If space allows, clean behind the dryer, too.
Owners and operators should clean dryer exhaust ducts once a year to help prevent blockage. This should also help the machine to operate optimally without negatively impacting utility usage.
There’s no doubt that any good maintenance program starts with properly installed equipment. But owners need to keep in mind, too, that distributors are a trusted resource.
Keeping laundry equipment and their surroundings clean can have a significant impact on how well and long the machines run. And, it contributes to a tidier facility and can positively impact your bottom line—who doesn’t want that?
Rick Murphy is sales manager for Whirlpool Corporation Commercial Laundry.