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Home Maintenance Tip: Clean your Dryer Vent

Posted on August 15, 2014

Clothes dryers are fairly simple appliances. Hot air is used to dry the clothes while they tumble around the drum. Moisture from the wet clothes and warm air is vented to the exterior. In the drying process, lint is created when fabric fibers are removed from the clothes. Lint will build up in the lint filter trap at the dryer. But, lint also escapes the filter and lodges elsewhere in the dryer and dryer vent. This lint will build up slowly over time. Why is this important?

Each year, there are more than 15,000 house fires, up to 30 deaths and more than 310 injuries due to dryer and dryer vent lint build-up. As well as the danger, a clogged dryer vent forces your dryer to work longer to perform the job, which can wear out your dryer sooner and is energy inefficient. For these reasons, the dryer vent should be cleaned at least twice a year or if you notice any of the following signs of lint build-up:

  • A load of laundry taking longer to dry than previously
  • The exterior of the dryer getting very hot when it is running
  • Heat and humidity building up in the laundry area more than in the past
  • The exterior dryer vent flap is not opening when the dryer is running.

The goal is to have a completely unobstructed vent from the dryer to the exterior. Here are the steps to clean your dryer vent:

  1. Always empty the dryer lint filter trap after each load. But, this step alone will not be sufficient.
  2. Unplug your dryer. If you have a gas dryer, cut off the gas. Pull the dryer away from the wall.
  3. Loosen the clamps holding the dryer vent to the dryer and at the wall.
  4. Use a vacuum cleaner and hose to remove lint out of the back of the dryer, the vent attached to the dryer and the vent that leads to the exterior. Reattach.
  5. Check the exterior side of the dryer vent making sure that there are no birds’ nests or insects residing in the vent. Clear any blockages. Make sure that the exterior vent flap closes when the dryer is not in use.

The longer the vent, the more likely there will be frequent lint build-up because of insufficient air flow. Fires are more likely in longer vents. If you have a metal foil dryer vent from the dryer to the wall, it is a good idea to replace it as these vents can overheat.

Protect yourself, your family and your investment by cleaning your dryer vent. If you don’t feel comfortable with the task, call in professional help.


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