Why Should You Clean Your Dryer Vent?
A dirty dryer vent is often the main cause of fires in a home. Don’t let something that’s an easy fix damage your home and put your family at risk of danger.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that dryer vents should be cleaned out, but not everyone knows why. A clean dryer vent is far less likely to catch fire which means you’re home will be safer by simply removing lint build up, but they also improve the efficiency of your dryer, and lower energy costs.
Your lint trap catches about 60% of the lint from your clothes; the other 40% goes up and through your dryer vent system. The build up of lint in the dryer, or dryer vent system can be a fire hazard.
98% of your dryer vent can’t be seen. The only part that is visible is the dryer exhaust: transition house and roof exhaust vent or the exterior wall vent on some multi-story buildings. Most of the dryer vent is confined to an area inside of your walls, floors, crawl space and attic.
Most of the time, people forget about what they don’t see.An enclosed area can be a problem because when a fire starts, or extends into a small area, the fire may not be noticed quite as quickly as a fire in an open area. A large number of sprinkler systems or smoke alarms will not be triggered as soon as the fire happens.
Your Home May Be at Risk for a Dryer Vent Fire If,
- You have a large family, and the dryer is often used.
- Dryer duct have not been inspected and cleaned in more than a year.
- Your dryer system is made of flexible plastic or vinyl duct. While this material is inexpensive, it’s no longer up to code. Burning lint in these types of ducts can ignite it as quick as 12 seconds.
Warning Signs Your Dryer Vent Systems May Have Built up Lint
- Clothes keep taking longer and longer to dry.
- Clothes don’t dry fully.
- Clothes are much hotter than usual at the end of the drying cycle.
- The exterior of the dryer gets very hot.
- The outside exhaust vent flapper doesn’t open very much; this indicates low exhaust velocity.
- Laundry room becomes more human than normal.
- Burnt smell in the laundry room.
Now That You Know How to Tell If Your Vents Need a Cleaning. Here’s How to Do It
- Unplug the dryer from both the gas, and electric. If you’re using a gas dryer, be sure to shut off the gas.
- Pull the dryer out just about as far as your vent will extend. This is usually about 1 and a half to 2 feet. (0.5 to 0.6 m)
- Using a screwdriver, loosen the 4″ vent clamp on the back of your dryer.
- Remove vent from the dryer.
- Reach into the hole in the back of the dryer and pull out all lint you can grab. Reach in as far as possible, or you can use a shop or house vacuum cleaner to remove the lint.
- Vacuum, or reach into the vent tubing you just took off and remove lint from there.
- Most of the lint will be built up towards the end of the tubing within a foot or so, rather than sticking in the middle of the pipe. If you do find a rather large buildup in the middle, use a plumbing snake to remove it. You can also try using a flexible hose on your vacuum cleaning to reach inside, whether the vacuum is running or not.
- Slide the clamp back over the vent and reattach it to the dryer, tighten the clamp and push the dryer back into place.
- Locate and remove the vent on the outside of your house. It might have caulking around the cover, as well as screws. Use a knife to cut away the caulk. It’s possible it will have a sleeve about a foot long if that’s the case, slight it straight out.
- Clean the lint from this side, again either reaching in as far as possible or using the hose of a vacuum.
- Check inside the vent to see if you’ve missed anything, if the clog is out of reach use a plumbers snake or vacuum cleaner tubing to remove the lint.
- Turn on gas, and plug the unit back in.
- Run your dryer on air fluff for about 10 minutes, loose debris may fly out, so don’t stand right in front of the outside vent.
- Double check the vent for obstructions and reattach the outside vent.
Now that your dryer vent system is free of lint, you’ll be able to enjoy a more efficient dryer and a safer home. Remember to clean your vent system at least once a year to help prevent fires.