With appliances, you seem to get some that constantly break (electric kettles—I’m looking at you!). Then you get appliances that you buy once, and they last even past their projected lifespan. In my experience, dryers fall into this category, regardless of whether they are gas or electric. Still, they can be compared.
Gas dryers tend to last longer, but one should try to understand why this is rather than just accepting it at face value. Knowing what shortens the life span of electric dryers (in some instances) can also help to increase the life span of gas dryers even further.
Gas dryers tend to last longer than electric dryers. Not that much longer, only a few years. The electric heating element in electric dryers seems to be the weak part of the machine. Gas dryers, burning gas for heat, are not at risk in this same way.
Gas Dryers Possibly Last Longer
The average lifespan of a gas dryer is projected to be equal to or a few years longer than that of an electric dryer.
On average, vented electric dryers last 10 to 13 years, whereas a vented gas dryer can be expected to last at least 13 years. Considering the ranges of the vented dryers, it is reasonable to expect gas dryers to last longer than electric dryers.
We conducted a poll about gas dryers, and a majority of the respondents answered that their gas dryer lasted 12 or more years. Numerous commenters on the poll also noted that they knew of or owned a gas dryer that has lasted over 20 years!
My parents owned a gas dryer while I was growing up that lasted nearly 16 years! During those years it was running loads for my whole family of five and endured our move to a new home.
The longevity of an electric dryer varies more than a gas dryers because of the heating element that is being used.
Reasons Electric Dryers Tend to Fail Sooner
Electric dryers tend to run into more problems than gas dryers, especially with their heating element. It just seems to be a susceptible part.
With larger loads, the dryer will take longer to dry, so the heating element may have to get hotter or remain on for longer periods, which puts more strain on it.
More strain on the element means more wear and tear on the equipment and increases the chances that it will fail. If the heating element breaks, the element, or even the dryer itself, may need to be replaced.
More strain on the element may reduce its effectiveness when drying too. This is to say that the dryer may still work, but nowhere near as efficiently as it initially had, leaving clothes wet at the end of a drying cycle.
Extra cycles might then be needed to dry the clothes completely, only adding to the strain that the heating element has to endure.
Gas dryers don’t run into this problem because the heat is just being supplied by a burner run on gas so not as much strain is put on the heating portion of the machine.
Heavier and longer dry cycles impact parts of the machine other than the heating element as well. For example, longer dry cycles will also mean more wear and tear on the belt.
Longer and/or hotter cycles can also put more strain on the fuses in electric dryers, which can cause them to blow.
Longevity Influenced by Quality, Use, and Care
Many different factors can impact the longevity outside of just problems with the heating element for both dryers:
- A dirty lint screen can increase drying time and, therefore, wear and tear on the machine.
- A blocked duct can prevent a dryer from functioning efficiently or at all if the block is severe enough.
- Clothes that are soaked will be harder on dryers because the clothes are heavier, so the drum and drive belt have to work harder to spin. They also take longer to dry.
- How often a dryer is used and the size of the load can both independently impact how long a dryer lasts.
- Blockages at the vent outside of the home can also impact how well the dryer runs (similar to the lint trap).
- Residue left on the dryer drum from clothes can impact the efficiency of the machine (creating more strain) because air cannot enter the drum as easily.
- Using too many dryer sheets can also leave a residue on the drum because the waxy layer on the sheets melts off and sticks to the drum.
- Drying things that shouldn’t be dried by the machine can also reduce the longevity of the machine. For example, some machines don’t recommend drying rubber, so if you dry a bath mat with a rubber backing, the machine may be harmed.
Gas and Electric Dryer Warranties
Most manufacturer warranties are offered for one to three years after an appliance, and the same goes for gas and electric dryers. So typically, the warranties don’t match the anticipated lifespan of the machine.
That being said, usually there are extended warranties that can be purchased either through the manufacturer or through an independent service. In most instances, this extended warranty could double the original warranty.
But even if the original warrant is doubled, and is offered for six years, it still wouldn’t match the anticipated life span. For clothes dryers, on average, only 20% of machines need a repair in the first five years.
All in all, warranties are most likely not worth it for the average consumer. However, if you are in a situation where you know your dryer will be used very frequently or will have to handle heavy loads often, it may be worth getting the warranty.