Did you know that a dirty dryer vent is one of the biggest fire hazards in your home? The removable lint filter traps a lot of the lint produced while drying your clothes, but does not get all of it. This lint that slips through your filter or lint trap gets trapped in nooks and crannies deep inside the dryer ductwork that allows hot air from your dryer to escape your home. This build up of lint can make it harder for your dryer to work and can lead to overheating. This excess heat can ignite the lint and cause house fires.
Other than the fire hazard clogged vents present, congested dryer ducts can introduce other problems. A clogged dryer vent can waste your time, energy and money by causing your dryer to take longer to dry your clothes. Not only is this bad for your wallet, the need to run the dryer for longer amounts of time is bad for the environment.
While there are some maintenance tasks that you can do regularly to keep your dryer vent and ducts clean, much of the work of getting deep into the ducts and vents to deep clean the system can be difficult if you don’t have the proper training and equipment. Read on to find out what maintenance tasks you can perform on your own and what is best left for the pros.
WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR DRYER VENTS ARE BECOMING UNSAFE
Most laundry-doers dutifully clean their dryer’s lint screen before each new load of clothes. No matter how diligent you are with your lint cleaning, lint will still be able to get past the lint screen, building up dangerous lint clogs in the hoses or ductwork that carries hot air outside your home.
There are several warning signs to look for that may indicate that your dryer vents are clogged and should be taken care of immediately to avoid any accidental fires in your home. If you notice that your clothes are taking longer to dry, are still damp at the end of a full cycle, or if you notice that your clothes are hot to the touch when the cycle is over, it may be time to call in the pros. Other signs that your vents need to be cleaned include the dryer itself running hotter than usual or your dedicated laundry room (or the air surrounding the dryer itself) is humid or damp.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAINTAIN YOUR DRYER VENTS
The first step of cleaning any appliance is to unplug the dryer from the wall. If your dryer is powered by natural gas, this process is a bit more complicated and should be left to professional dryer vent cleaners. Gas leaks are serious and dangerous. If you think that you may disturb the gas line attached to the dryer in any way, call a professional to avoid any extra hazard and possible accidents.
Once your dryer is unplugged from the wall, vacuum the inside of the lint trap housing with a hose attachment that is long and skinny so it can reach down around and below the inside barrel of the dryer. You may need to do this several times to make sure you’re getting all the trapped lint and you may also need to use special brushes for this job. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends performing this routine maintenance every three months. You can then use the same vacuum with a larger brush attachment to clean in and around the hole at the back of the dryer. If you can reach it without disturbing any gas lines or water fittings on your washer.
Clothes dryers can be complicated pieces of machinery with intricate and delicate moving parts. The ductwork in your home is much the same. Keep things simple and safe in your home by enlisting professional and knowledgeable service folks to do the harder and more dangerous tasks for you. If you are looking for help with exterior maintenance and cleaning, including gutters, roofs and decks, reach out to the experts.