HomeownerEducational: A-M

Dryer Vent Cleaning

Dryer Vent Cleaning

Signs of Dryer Vent issues

The National Fire Protection Association reports that of the estimated 15,970 house fires involving either washing machines or clothes dryers occurring between 2010 and 2014, 92% were caused by dryers. The leading cause of the fires was reported as improper maintenance of the machine. Since the dryer vent is out of sight, it can be difficult to know if it is in need of cleaning. Watch for these warning signs:

Longer drying time. Loads of clothes—particularly heavy ones, such as jeans, bedding, or towels—that take a longer time to dry than usual could indicate an increasing airflow restriction in the dryer vent.

No lint on the lint screen. An empty lint trap after a drying cycle may signal a blocked dryer vent. The buildup of air pressure will cause lint to stick to the vent’s side of the lint screen or collect around the back side of the dryer drum. If the lint screen does not have at least a light covering of lint after a dryer cycle, you should have your dryer vent checked.

Extremely hot clothes or dryer after a cycle. If the top of the dryer becomes very hot to the touch, or if the clothes seem overheated or singed upon removal, there may be an improper connection or obstruction in the vent. A dryer vent cleaner is able to clean your dryer vent as well as check the system’s connections and ensure they are secure.

How Dryer Vents Work

Clothes dryers operate by blowing hot air past clothes as they tumble in the dryer drum. This evaporates the water in the clothes, and the water vapor is carried away through the dryer vent. According to building codes, the dryer vent system must exhaust at a point outside the home.

The most important requirement for a dryer vent that operates safely and effectively is that the vent must not be obstructed. Any airflow restriction poses an increased fire hazard because the lint particles that are carried along with the water vapor are flammable when they accumulate. Unfortunately, dryer vents are often made from flexible foil or plastic material that can kink or sag. This produces bends in the system that collect lint, which a spark can set ablaze. Sagging vent material can also collect condensation and leak or foster a mold problem.

Dryer Vent Maintenance

While basic dryer maintenance is easily accomplished, some components of the system require professional attention. According to most major dryer manufacturers, dryer vents should be serviced annually by a professional. A typical cleaning will include a visual inspection, removal of any clogs, and cleaning of the lint trap and booster fan.

Some dryer vent cleaning companies also perform mechanical inspections of the vent system and provide repair and installation services. Maintaining a well-functioning vent helps your dryer run safely and efficiently.