Usually, we make sure that our dryer lint traps are clean, but we don’t consider cleaning the dryer vent inside. Cleaning the lint trap isn’t enough. Reportedly, clothes dryers are one of the leading causes of hazardous fires in homes in the United States.
Thankfully, clogged dryer vents are pretty easy to avoid. This occurs when lint and debris accumulate in your dryer’s hose and vent duct, restricting airflow, and forcing exhaust gases to back up and start a fire. Regular inspection and dryer vent cleaning prevent a clogged dryer vent. With a more efficient dryer, your home will be safer, and you’ll save money.
Clogged Dryer Vent: How to Tell
If you’re trying to figure out if your dryer vent is clogged, here are some signs you should look for.
- Long Dry Times
The first sign of a clogged dryer vent is when your clothes don’t dry completely after a regular cycle. Each load should dry in 30-40 minutes. Having a clogged dryer vent will make your clothes take longer to dry since the blocked vent traps air and keeps them hot and moist. It’s time to clean your dryer vent if your clothes still feel damp after a cycle.
- Heated Dryer Vent Exterior
A clogged dryer vent forces the dryer to work harder to perform at optimal efficiency. Unnecessary strain on the dryer makes the machine hot. Heat and moisture are emitted from a dryer while it’s drying. So basically, when heat and moisture cannot escape the machine, the dryer essentially remains there and continues to operate itself. It cannot, however, maintain the regular drying function. Your dryer overheats because there’s nowhere for the heat to go, causing it to overheat and catch fire.
- Burning Smell from your Dryer
You have a clogged dryer vent if your dryer smells like it’s burning. This is because, throughout a drying cycle, your dryer has to work harder to operate, which might cause some of its parts to smell as if they are burning.
- Heat-Related Shutdown Issues
Whenever a clothes dryer senses that it’s getting too hot, it triggers a built-in switch. A clogged dryer vent reduces airflow to the point where it trips the appliance, forcing it to stop so it can cool down. Unless you know this, restarting an appliance before it’s cool can be a serious problem. A hot motor could cause a fire in the dryer if it continues to overheat. You can see how dangerous this is.
- It Smells Like Mold Or Mildew
Lint is mostly cotton fiber, so it absorbs moisture. A blockage can raise the levels as hot, moist air tries to push through. You can end up with a hidden, moldy mess because this moisture doesn’t dry out. You don’t want mold and mildew spreading inside your venting tube and causing odors to get into your clothes. It’s hard to understand a moldy smell when laundry should smell fresh.
- Blown-Up Dryer Hose
Check behind your dryer every so often to make sure there aren’t any hoses being pinched between the wall and the dryer. Airflow is restricted, which is a safety concern. You can solve this problem by having your dryer vents cleaned.
- Bird Nests
Birds can sometimes build a nest in termination hoods left uncovered, although it’s pretty rare. A quick fix is needed for this problem. Your dryer can be inspected by an expert to make sure it’s not a nesting site for wildlife.
- Increased Electricity Expenses
No one can be happy with increasing utility bills. You might be paying more for electricity because of your dryer. A clogged dryer vent makes your dryer consume more power to work properly. The motor has to work harder if there are blocks in the air. If you want your laundry to be really dry, you’ll probably have to run it through more than once. As a result, your electric bill goes up unexpectedly. You’ll actually save money by maintaining your dryer.
- Extra Lint
While maintaining a clean lint trap may help prevent buildups and jams, a yearly dryer vent cleaning is still necessary for a reliable and effective dryer vent system. Lint can build up instead of moving through the vent line because of incorrect ventilation materials, poor installation, or nests and other debris in the line. Lint collects in spaces throughout the system and laundry area when an obstruction forms in the vent line.
Lint collects in the following space inside a dryer:
A clogged dryer vent may be causing lint to stick to your clothes when you get them out of the dryer.
A Lint Trap or a Lint Screen with No Lint
It’s most likely that a blockage is causing a backup of lint in your machine if you don’t see any lint in the lint trap or on the wrong side of the screen. Fires can easily happen in dryers because of back pressure and lint buildup.
In The Door Seal and Behind the Dryer
The lint that gets stuck in and behind the dryer is a fire risk, so remove it right away.
- Extra Pet Hair
You might have a fire hazard if you have a pet at home. Pets tend to clog dryer vents faster and carry more debris that can cause a fire, so you might want to consider cleaning them more often than once a year.
Error Code: Check Vent Indicator
When your dryer doesn’t work right, error codes can help you figure out what’s wrong. The good thing is that dryer errors are pretty easy to fix and only require a few steps.
Look at the Vent Indicator Lit
A lit “Check Vent” indicator means there’s limited airflow going through the dryer. There’s a chance the lint screen is clogged, the vent is crushed or kinked, or the vent has too many turns.
This indicator means the dryer will keep running. Here’s what you can do:
- It is important to clean the lint screen regularly.
- The dryer should be restarted after you have selected the “Timed Dry” heated cycle.
- Ensure that the vent that runs from the dryer to the wall is not crushed or kinked by looking at it closely.
- As you check the vent from the dryer to the wall, please ensure that there is no lint or debris in the vent.
- Make sure that the length of your vent system and the number of elbows you have for the type of vent you are using fall within the recommended run lengths and elbows.
- Ensure that there is no lint or debris left on the exterior vent exhaust hood.
- Clean your entire home venting system if the indicator stays lit. You must get in touch with duct cleaning services if you are unable to complete this on your own.
Why You Shouldn’t Have a Clogged Dryer Vent
Pay attention to the warning signs, or you’ll regret it. Dryer vent clogs cause:
Increased Energy Bills
You can break your equipment if it overheats, and you’ll have to spend a lot of money on repairs. A clogged dryer vent can add up when you factor in increased utility expenditures from an inefficient dryer.
Fires in Houses
Laundry room fires cause deaths, injuries, and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage every year in the U.S. A third of these fires are caused by homeowners who fail to clean their dryer vents.
Many people don’t think about it, but if there’s enough buildup on the outside laundry flap, you’re allowing rodents easy access to your house.
Dryer Vent Cleaning: How Often Do You Need It?
Do you know when your dryer vent was last inspected? If you can’t remember the last time it was inspected, you should schedule one right away.
Depending on how long the vent is and where it’s located, the price will vary. If the exterior exhaust is easy to get to, you might be able to do it yourself with a brush kit, but you might not get it all clean.
Make sure your dryer exhaust vents are cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year. If your family uses the dryer frequently, such as a family with many children, you may want to consider increasing that to every six months.
Here’s How to Clean Your Dryer Vent
- Locate Your Vent
Identifying where your dryer vent is the first step to cleaning it. In most cases, dryers are connected to ductwork inside a wall by a short, 4-inch-diameter exhaust pipe. The hot air escapes through a vent on your house outside wall when it passes through this pipe.
Look inside the outdoor dryer exhaust vent for debris, such as dust, lint, or dead bugs. Once you’ve identified the vent, clean it out. Get rid of any visible obstructions and wash the screens.
- Unplug Your Dryer Carefully
When you know how your ducts work, you can unplug your dryer. If there’s metal tape or clamps attached to your dryer vent pipe, remove them. Don’t break the vent pipe by pulling it too hard from the wall duct.
- Take a Vacuum to the Vents
You can suction all around the vent entrance with your vacuum cleaner using a hose attachment. Get your vacuum and pull out as much as you can from the dryer exhaust duct.
- Let the Brush Do Its Magic with the Drill
Start the drill on medium power and spin it clockwise. Slowly pull the brush out as you push and pull. As you move forward, dirt, lint, and other debris will begin to stream out of the dryer duct in front of you. You’ll also start to see that the lint accumulation is beginning to vanish before your eyes. Be sure to spin the drill clockwise; otherwise, the attachments might disassemble and get stuck inside the dryer duct.
- Clean Up the Mess
Get rid of the mess your cleaning has left behind before you go to the exterior vent. Make sure the debris is swept up and thrown away. You might have to clean up with soapy water if there’s residue left behind.
- Examine The External Vent
There are many different locations where you can install an exterior vent, including low to the ground or high near the roof on an exterior wall. In the case where it is located near the roof of a building with several levels, you will not be able to access it easily. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will be able to clean it. The method of snaking the flexible rods through and drill brushing can be repeated, but this time from the outside, if your external vent is close to the ground.
- Reconnect and Clean
You’ve probably discovered a treasure trove of lint by this time. Clean your new fluffy friends up with a vacuum cleaner or broom and dustpan.
Next, connect your wall duct to the outlet and plug in your dryer. The soft foil-style vent used by your dryer to connect with the wall duct will need to be replaced with a sturdier one. It is recommended to use a 90-degree, fire-resistant aluminum elbow that will provide superior airflow as well as fire resistance.
Cleaning Your Dryer Vent: Safety Recommendations
Lint traps are the key to keeping your dryer exhaust vent clean. Don’t forget to clear the dryer lint after you run it every time you do laundry, especially if you use dryer sheets. The importance of this cannot be overstated. In addition to keeping your dryer vent clean, you’ll improve your machine’s drying time and decrease the risk of house fires.
It is not only important to make sure that your dryer is clean, but it is also worth mentioning that you should never leave it unattended. You should never leave a load running while you are leaving the house. You may be out of the house when a dryer fire starts, in which case it could quickly engulf your house before someone notices and calls for help.
Lastly, I would like to point out that you should always give your dryer some breathing room. A dryer is one of the most likely places to catch fire if you place clutter and storage items on it or around it.
My Clothes Aren’t Drying. What’s Wrong With My Dryer?
Generally, if you are experiencing dryer problems and are unsure what to do, you should start by going over the basics. This includes checking for power and observing how you use the dryer. I have listed a few of the basics you should check if your clothes are not drying in your dryer.
Is The Dryer Connected?
Plug your dryer in and make sure it’s getting power. Check the circuit breaker if the dryer won’t power up after being plugged in. The dryer’s circuit might be tripped, so reset it.
Is Your Dryer Overloaded?
It is important to ensure that you are not drying too many clothes at once. This may put undue strain on the motor and drum bearings of the dryer, as well as other parts of the dryer. You may also find that it hinders the process of drying your clothes properly.
Examine the Ducts and Air Vents
Your clothes need a lot of airflow to dry properly. Airflow through the dryer vent plays a big part in how well it works. Clothing dryer systems with clogged air vents don’t get enough air. The easiest way to tell if your dryer’s air vent is clogged is to turn it on and go outside to feel the air leaving. Cleaning your vent may be in order if it’s slow and not really warm.
Get Rid of Lint
When your dryer’s lint trap is full of lint, it could slow down the airflow. It is obvious that your dryer needs airflow to work properly. Make it a practice to clean the lint trap after each use to keep it clean. You can clean it better if you wash it with warm, soapy water and let it dry.
Cleaning the lint trap isn’t enough. You also need to regularly clean the dryer vent to prevent blockage. Clogged dryer vents can cause hazardous fire incidents in homes. Laundry room fires cause deaths, injuries, and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage every year in the U.S. A clogged dryer vent can increase your energy bills. Also, clogged dryer vents pave the way for rodents to enter your dryer system.
Depending on how long the vent is and where it’s located, the dryer vent cleaning price will vary. If the exterior exhaust is easy to get to, you might be able to do it yourself with a brush kit, but you might not get it all clean. Make sure your dryer exhaust vents are cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year.