There are many makes and models of hair dryer on the market from which to choose; while looks and price will influence your choice of dryer there are other factors you should consider when buying. For example, it is worth enquiring about servicing both in and out of guarantee, since you may not want to own an appliance which has to be sent away for repair. Check the availability of spare parts; there are many foreign-made appliances which perform extremely well but for which parts are difficult to obtain.
The various models of hair dryer can be categorized into three basic groups: hand-held, shoulder-hung and salon types.
This is probably the most popular type of dryer because of its price, ease of use and speed of drying. Hand-held dryers do differ internally in the shape and size of motors, fans and elements. The motor is usually of an induction type, which does not use the armature and carbon-brushes which vacuum cleaner motors have. This type is usually very reliable in an enclosed space provided the bearings on which the motor revolves remain lubricated and there is no build-up of dust and fine particles of hair within the confined space inside the casing; if there is, the motor will tend to slow down. You should oil the bearings (if they are not of the long-life grease-packed type) and clean the inside of the dryer once a year as described below.
A slow motor is usually indicated by an increase in the heat given off by the element — so it can be seen to glow more brightly than before. If fitted, a cut-out should operate once the element overheats to prevent the element being damaged or the plastic casing of the dryer melting. The reason for the overheating is the motor is not blowing enough air over the element. To correct this you will first have to gain access to the inside of the dryer by removing the screws securing the two halves of the casing. Remove the fan and use a fine, clean paintbrush to dust the motor clean; where relevant, apply a small amount of thin oil to the bearing at each end of the motor. Revolve the motor spindle by hand slowly in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions to ensure the oil works well into each bearing; wipe away all traces of excess oil from the motor and surrounding areas.
If you drop your dryer, don’t shake it to see if anything inside appears loose; because of the delicate nature of the interior any loose objects such as nuts, screws or pieces of plastic from the casing may foul the element wire or jam the motor and fan. Carefully check the inside of the dryer; if part of the fan is broken, don’t continue to use the dryer since the balance of the fan will be affected and cause wear on the motor bearings as well as becoming noisy. If part of the element is damaged, don’t be tempted to join element wire together; such a repair is potentially dangerous.
Flex should be regularly inspected for signs of wear and cracks. To replace damaged flex, separate the casing of the dryer and locate the flex clamping plate and screws; remove the screws, lift off the clamping plate, slacken the terminal screws and pull out the flex. Before removing the flex note the length of bared flex for connection purposes and check whether the ends have been soldered or have had ring terminals crimped to them.
If sparking occurs at the switch while the dryer is running, separate the casing and clean the switch contacts (if accessible) by pulling a strip of fine emery cloth between them. If the contacts are not accessible or the sparking continues after cleaning, you will have to replace the switch. Disconnect the wires from the switch terminals, noting the position of each wire on the switch, release any fixing screws and remove the switch. Fit the replacement switch in reverse order, making sure you connect the wires to the correct terminals.
Cold air blowing from the dryer when the temperature switch is in the hot position indicates the element has probably broken. To replace the element, separate the casing, disconnect the element from its terminals and release any fixing screws. Insert the new element and former in reverse order, taking care not to damage the coiled element wire.
Dryers of this type are similar in basic layout to hand-held dryers, but may have a variable heat switch to cope with varying styles and trends of hair dressing. Also, since heat needs to be transferred along a pipe to the hood, a shoulder-hung dryer has a larger element, motor and fan. The condition of the flex and fan motor is very important; you should also check the hose, hose end connections and hood since deterioration will affect the amount of heat transferred to the hood and cracks and loose fits will cause leakage of hot air — thus increasing drying time.
This type has the motor and element built into the headpiece and is normally attached to a floor stand to allow height adjustment. Most models have three heat settings, with the element and assembly having three sets of spiral heaters to give this variation. Some have remote control switches on the end of a cable, giving a setting from cool to very hot; in these cases the motor and element are combined. With the speed of air blown and the degree of heat being designed to work together (for example, slow speed and low heat, fast speed and maximum heat). These dryers are more expensive to repair than other types, but carrying out simple maintenance as described for the hand-held dryer will ensure longer life.