It may just seem like another chore, but regularly cleaning your dryer’s lint trap and inspecting the exhaust vent are important tasks that homeowners sometimes overlook. Maintaining your dryer vent directly improves your home’s safety by preventing accidental fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires each year, and 80% of those are due to clogged dryer vents.
Removing lint from the lint trap is a habit that has become second-nature for many of us. It is suggested to remove this lint from your dryer every time after a laundry load is complete. However, did you know that you are supposed to clean out your dryer vent at least once a year? An unobstructed dryer vent not only drastically reduces the chance of an at-home fire but improves appliance efficiency, increases the longevity of your dryer, prevents mold growth, and can lower your monthly electric bills. Continue reading to learn more about signs that indicate its time to clean the lint trap, how to properly maintain your dryer vent, and why regular maintenance will contribute to a safer and more efficient home.
The importance of a clean dryer exhaust vent and how to locate yours
The dryer vent or duct is a crucial part of your clothes drying system. Dryers work by tumbling wet clothes through heated air in a rotating drum. This process evaporates moisture out of your clothes, expelling humid air out of a 4-inch metal vent to an exterior part of your home. This metal dryer vent is made out of rigid, semi-rigid, or highly-flexible material. The exhaust can be found on an outside wall of your home. For many homes, it is often adjacent to your washer and dryer system. Sometimes, your vent and its tubing may travel to another end of the home. Take a walk around your home’s exterior and keep an eye out for a white or metallic vent that often has open flaps when your dryer is running.
Warning SignsWhen should I clean my dryer vent?
There are clear and important indications to keep in mind when you are doing your regular drying routine. If you begin to notice any of these tell-tale signs below, then it is probably time to clean out your lint trap and dryer vent.
Clothes are taking longer to dry
When your dryer vent is clogged by lint or other material, it prevents moisture from escaping your laundry load. This results in wetter clothes and longer drying periods. Ultimately, this reduces dryer efficiency, extends drying times, and leads to higher utility costs.
The vent hood does not open properly
When your vent hood does not open all the way and has limited airflow pushing to the outside of your home, then it is time to clean out your dryer vent. When the exhaust is no longer pushing an ample amount of hot air, this means that it is most likely blocked by lint and needs to be cleaned.
Excessive Heat and/or burning smells
Lint can build up in the trap, in the drying drum, and in the exhaust tube. This lint clogs up vital components and causes the dryer to operate at higher temperatures, raising the risk of fire. If your clothes have a burning smell, or your laundry room is excessively and abnormally warm, then it is time to have your appliances inspected and properly cleaned. If not, you are running the risk of a fire.
Has it been over a year since your last inspection?
Dryer vent ducts should be inspected at least once a year to reduce the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. If it has been over a year, or you can’t remember the last time you checked on your dryer vent, then it is probably time to do so. You can either hire a professional to do a routine inspection and cleaning, or you can attempt to do it yourself. Depending on the length and location of the vent. If the exterior exhaust vent is easily accessible, you can DIY.
Health, Safety, and Efficiency5 Benefits of a Clean Dryer Vent
The primary reason to keep your dryer vent clean is to ensure your safety. However, beyond safety, a clean and properly operating dryer vent will provide you with several key benefits such as improved energy efficiency, lower utility costs, longer appliance lifetime, and reduced chance for mold and in-home carbon monoxide.
Benefit #1Fire Safety & Prevention
A common reason for residential fires is due to clogged dryer vents. Lint and dirt caused that accumulates after loads of laundry are extremely flammable. Since the dryer operates at high temperatures, there is an inherent risk of lint catching fire.
Benefit #2Minimal Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas that can become deadly if enough accumulates in an enclosed area. A properly working dryer vent pushes out these harmful fumes and makes sure that you are not breathing in harmful air.
Benefit #3Reduced Utility Costs
A clogged dryer vent could mean your clothes will need multiple cycles before drying correctly or will need to run longer. This requires more electricity, resulting in higher monthly bills. Cleaning your lint trap and exhaust vent will help your dryer run easier and more efficiently. Reducing your energy consumption helps the environment too!
Benefit #4Longer Appliance Lifetime & Less Maintenance
We already know that cleaning your vent improves efficiency. When your dryer is running at maximum efficiency, it means that your dryer is taking less time and using less energy to complete a load of laundry. As a result, your dryer is not working as hard or as much, meaning that the lifetime of your appliance will be extended and less maintenance will be required.
Benefit #5Less Chance for Mold Growth
Mold needs moisture and dirt to grow. In addition, it excels in dark settings. Do you know what has all three ingredients? Your dryer vent and tubing. When a vent in clogged, it traps moisture and promotes unwanted mold growth. A clean ventilation system will ensure that you and your clothing will not be subject to mold.
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