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  Dryer Condenser Units

The condenser unit used in a condenser or heat pump tumble dryer

Condenser dryers also have a condensing unit that needs to be cleaned regularly in addition to the fluff filter.

This is a stern warning that we need to emphasise highly:

  Tumble Dryer Filters Are A Safety Device

Not cleaning the filter can create a serious fire risk!

Not ensuring that the condenser unit is clean and clear will cause potential blockages of airflow leading to a far higher energy use or, worse, overheating and potential damage to your tumble dryer. this applies equally to both traditional heating element driven dryers and to heat pump dryers.

There are good reasons why manufacturers say that these should be regularly maintained.

You can learn more about the fuff filter in your tumble dryer here.

  What The Condenser Unit Does

How the air moves in a condenser tumble dryerWhat the condenser unit in your tumble dryer does and how it works will help you to understand the emphasis we put on ensuring that you maintain this component and, if it is a bit iffy, replace it.

As cool air is drawn into the dryer and heats it is then expelled through the fluff filter and down to the condenser unit, the idea being that the fluff is largely removed by the time it gets to the condenser.

The warm moist air (it has the moisture form the wet laundry still in it) then condenses on the cool metal of the condenser unit and is pumped to either a drain point or commonly to a water tank in the dryer, usually up at the top.

Hence the name, condenser unit.

The diagram to the left shows you the typical airflow that you'd expect to see in a run of the mill condenser dryer.

The process relies heavily on the air being cooled and the moisture removed. If that doesn't happen or happen correctly then the dryer will not be running efficiently.

  Why Your Tumble Dryer Condenser Unit Is Important

If this gets blocked up or covered in gunk then it won’t work as it should.

If the room temperature is too high or, too low, it won’t work as it should.

This is why condensing tumble dryers are more sensitive to the environment that they are in.

If it blocks up then you get a reduction in airflow and an increase in running costs as the dryer has to work harder to dry the laundry and, ultimately, if totally blocked can lead to thermostat or heater failures so, it is important to maintain the condenser unit and ensure it’s okay.

If the fluff filter isn’t maintained or is faulty then more fluff will get to the condenser unit, often past it and block or break the pump that removes the water. On some it will allow fluff to block the pipe for the water allowing the dryer to leak. This is why we highlighted the warning on tumble dryer filters above.

A typical tumble dryer condenser unit removed from the tumble dryer

  How To Clean The Condenser Unit

For most condenser tumble dryers it’s easy and normally only needs to be done once a month or so.

To remove the unit it's normally an affair as shown in the image to the right, there will be a flap or cover at the bottom that will reveal the unit or it's just there behind the door with a couple of latches that secure it. Undo the latches, pull it out.

For the vast bulk of them you can run them under a cold water tap and that will clear out most if not all of the built up detritus of fluff, ooze and lint from them. We even know some of the field service guys that power wash some of them as, they’re pretty robust in that regard, not so much from physical damage though.

A good bottle brush, elbow grease and a little care coupled with time can be your best friends here though.

If they get completely clogged up, which can and often does happen if they are not correctly looked after, then sadly a replacement is usually the only sensible thing to do.

  Damaged Tumble Dryer Condenser Units

If the condenser unit is damaged, bent or broken, not sealing properly, then it will not operate as it should.

Common problems are blockages in the water extraction system, leaking and so on when these are faulty. From the above explanation you should be able to understand most things that can happen.

If there’s physical damage to the condenser unit in your tumble dryer then replacing the condenser is the only real option.

If it’s blocked up, try cleaning it first and you can be a bit “rough” with it to a degree as, if you break it you’ve not lost anything as if it cannot be cleaned properly you’ll need to replace it anyway.

  Ordering A Replacement Condenser Unit

We see this a lot and, it’s a bit of advice we seem to give people constantly… One part looks like another, looks like another in a good many cases.

Some are easily recognisable but some have subtle changes that make them unique to a range or series of tumble dryer models. If you don’t see yours listed or you’re not sure then please, ask us before you order the replacement. We’re only too happy to assist you and it can save you a lot of hassle.

The most commonly used condenser units you will find in our online store but, please do take note of the above as it can be very confusing when it comes to parts and easy to go wrong, that’s why we offer to help.

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Elizabeth Appleton
condenser unit
I have tried to clean my condenser unit on model: Zanussi ZDC46130w and the seal has broken, is it possible to get a replacement condenser unit and at what cost/how long before available.

Thanks in advance

Elizabeth Appleton

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