Is It Time To Clean My Dryer Vent?
You’d be surprised — simply wondering, “Is it time to clean my dryer vents?” puts you ahead of a lot of U.S. homeowners.
While we’re conditioned to keep on top of maintaining our cars, chimneys, heating and air conditioning systems, a lot of us don’t realize how important it is to regularly clean and maintain our dryers and dryer vents.
Your dryer creates heat, and that heat needs to get out, which is where your dryer vent comes in, shuttling heat and other byproducts away. Lint is produced when you use your dryer, and cleaning out your lint filter with every load is helpful, but it won’t eliminate lint in your venting ducts. As lint builds up in there, it can constrict and limit the ducts’ ability to vent that heat — and, since lint is highly flammable, it can ignite. In 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released figures showing that an average of 7,000 home fires related to clothes dryers occurred annually between 2006-2008. In most cases, those dryer vents needed to be cleaned, and that’s what led to the fire.
The best rule of thumb: Manufacturers recommend that you have your dryer vents professionally cleaned every year. But there are a few indicators that may point to a need for vent cleaning, too.
A few signs of obstructed dryer exhaust ducts
If you’ve run a load of laundry and opened the dryer to find still-damp clothes, lint build-up could be keeping your vents from properly exhausting hot air, and limiting your dryer’s ability to do its job.
Moldy smell in your dried laundry
If lint build-up is keeping moisture from escaping through your vent, it could lead to a moldy, mildew-y smell in your clothing.
Particularly hot clothes, particularly hot dryer
If your dryer is working harder than it should because of a blocked vent, it might create excess heat, making the top of the machine or your load of laundry feel extra hot to the touch.
Cleaner dryers are safer dryers
Lint build-up leads to dangerous dryer conditions, so keeping your dryer clean, from the appliance to the termination outside, is a smart practice. You can contribute to a safer dryer vent system on your own by sweeping up and vacuuming around and behind the dryer, cleaning out the lint screen in the dryer after every use, and cleaning lint out of the vent termination outside as best you can. But to ensure clean, well-venting ducts, professional help is highly recommended.
A service professional can offer a deeper vent cleaning with specialized tools, and can ensure that your dryer venting system is as free of lint build-up as possible. Have your technician clean the chassis of the machine to get rid of lint accumulation, and clean the duct from start to termination — you’ll likely be surprised by how much lint is in there (and how much of a fire hazard you avoid by having it properly cleaned).
Professional technicians can also make sure that your venting system is built with the right materials and in the right way to minimize hazards. Plastic or flexible foil-type ducts are prone to bending and kinking, trapping lint and impeding the flow of hot air to the outside of your home. That makes potential fire hazards worse. Ideally, you’ll have rigid metal dryer ducts, vented to the outside in as short a distance as possible (10 feet or less), with as few turns as possible.
If your dryer vent hasn’t been cleaned in more than a year — or you’ve noticed any of those warning signs — call Fluesbrothers Chimney Sweep today to schedule an appointment. You’ll rest easier knowing that you’re being proactive — and smart — about the safety of your home and family.