It’s hard to believe that your home’s dryer vent is also one of its most dangerous fire hazards. In fact, more than 2,900 residential fires originate in dryer vents every year. Besides the fire risk, a clogged dryer vent mixed with the warm, humid air of your dryer can lead to mold problems, too. Luckily, preventing safety issues is easy as long as you keep the area free of debris. Keep reading to learn how to spot a dicey venting situation as well as the best dryer vent cleaning methods.
First, let’s break down how a clothes dryer actually works and why it needs a vent in the first place. Dryers help evaporate water by blowing hot air past clothes as they tumble in a drum. Depending on the size of the load and type of garments, dryers can eliminate up to a gallon of water.
If it weren’t for your external dryer vent, all that moisture, not to mention a good amount of lint and fuzz would wind up back in your home. This probably goes without saying, but all that moisture and lint is terrible for your indoor air quality, plus it makes for quite a mess (think a thick coating of gray dust. . .everywhere).
Here’s how to know if you’re facing a clogged dryer vent:
• A burnt smell emanates from the laundry room whenever you turn the dryer on
• Your clothes are hotter than normal at the end of the dryer’s normal cycle
• Your clothes are taking forever to dry or aren’t fully dry after one cycle
• The outside of your dryer is unusually hot
• Your laundry room is hot and humid
How to Clean a Clogged Dryer Vent
If your dryer vent is less than three feet long and vents directly outside without any twists or turns, you can probably clean it yourself using these steps:
1. Empty the lint screen like you normally would after a load of laundry.
2. Unplug the dryer, then move it away from the wall to access the vent.
3. You’ll notice a tube leading from the back of your dryer to a hole in the wall—this is the vent, and the tubing will have to be detached from the back of the dryer in order to clean it. It’s generally attached to your dryer with a set of four screws, which can be removed with a normal flat or Philips head screwdriver.
4. Using the nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner, vacuum as much lint as you can, as far as you can down the tube and into the vent.
5. Hook everything back up.
6. Going outside, locate the escape vent and make sure it’s also clear of visible debris. Once the vent is clear, run the dryer and make sure hot air is flowing freely to the outside.
7. You’re done!
If your dryer vent is long and doesn’t vent directly outside (say if your laundry room isn’t adjacent to an exterior wall), it’s time to call in the professionals. A professional dryer vent cleaning service can run anywhere from $89 to $179 depending on your area, but it’s well worth it to prevent a house fire.
How to Prevent a Clogged Dryer Vent
The best way by far to keep your dryer vent as clear of lint as possible is to clean the lint trap after every load of laundry. This captures the vast majority of lint before it can make its way into the actual vent. Even if you clean the trap every time, though, a little bit of lint will still make its way through. If you have the kind of tubing that’s made of flexible ribbed material, lint can build up over time in the ribbing and cause problems. You can replace your ribbed dryer hose with a smooth-walled metal one, which will go a long way to keep lint from building up.
National Property Inspections Keeps Your Home Safe
Your NPI inspector is here to keep your family safe and healthy in your home. We can identify potential issues before they become big problems, so find your local inspector today to schedule an appointment!