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Keeping Dryer Vents Clean

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How a Slow Dryer Might be a Fire Hazard

If you’ve been having to hit the “Start” button on your dryer’s cycle more than once lately, it’s likely that this may be more than just an annoyance—it may be a sign that your dryer vents need to be cleaned. Clogged dryer vents don’t just slow you down on laundry day—they can be a danger to your home. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that overheated clothes dryers can cause fires and recommends routine cleaning of dryer vents for prevention.

A slow dryer may indicate it is time to schedule a dryer vent cleaning from a professional.

A slow dryer may indicate it is time to schedule a dryer vent cleaning from a professional.

Cleaning your lint screen before or after each load of laundry helps to reduce lint buildup in ducts, but this only slows the process and does not eliminate it. When lint builds up in the dryer hose, it reduces the flow of air and causes the dryer to have to work harder. Dryers have switches to keep the temperature from running too high, but constant use can wear the switch out and cause it to fail. Not only does cleaning the vents remove a fire hazard from your home, it will also increase the life of your dryer and save energy by keeping it running efficiently and effectively.

Signs your vent needs to be cleaned:

  • Clothes drying slowly
  • Lint behind dryer
  • Clothes/dryer feel too hot
  • Heat element in dryer burns out
  • Water spots on walls
  • Carbon monoxide alarm going off

Long, concealed vent runs, which are used more frequently in new construction, are difficult to navigate and are not as friendly a do-it-yourself project as a simple duct going directly from the dryer and straight through the wall or a window. CPSC also notes that if you are currently using plastic or foil, it is important to replace that with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal ducts.

An easy way to remember to keep up with this maintenance is to schedule your dryer vent cleaning at the same time as your chimney inspection and cleaning (if you have a chimney). Just make sure this is one thing you don’t have to worry about.