Cleaning out your dryer vent probably isn’t at the top of your priority list of things to do around the house. It’s not something that has to be done often, but it has a bigger impact than you may realize.
When you run your dryer, air is pulled in through a large hole in the front of the housing, heated, and circulates throughout the dryer. Then the heated air that is used to dry your clothes needs somewhere to escape. It goes into an exhaust vent that leads outside and is expelled into the air.
The problem is that your lint catcher doesn’t grab every single particle that goes through the dryer, and it can lead to a buildup of lint in your exhaust tubing and dryer vent. When this happens, the hot air gets backed up, and it can lead to a host of problems.
There are serious problems that can occur when a dryer vent is clogged and air can’t escape, ranging from repairs or replacing your dryer to causing house fires.
Fires - When your dryer vent is clogged up, it can lead to a fire if the buildup is significant. The lint that builds up traps the heat and doesn’t allow it to escape. Lint is also a very flammable material, so the combination of built-up heat and lint can cause a fire.
This is likely the worst case scenario, but a lot more common than most people realize. According to the U.S. Fire Administration and Homeland Security, over 40 dryers per day catch fire in the U.S. A simple cleaning will eliminate this risk, and leave your dryer in good shape for up to a year for an average user.
CO2 Buildup - One of the harmful things produced when heat is created from your dryer is Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is poisonous when it is breathed in. This is a big concern with heating systems that burn gas or oil. If your dryer exhaust isn’t pushing the air outside when it’s finished with it, then the CO2 can buildup inside your home. This can lead to sickness, headaches, and in extreme cases even death.
Your Dryer Doesn’t Dry - If your exhaust isn’t working your dryer may start taking longer to do the job, and even need to be run multiple times to get the job done. This is because the sensor in your dryer will shut off and on since the old heat isn’t escaping the dryer. This can lead to musty smelling clothes and longer drying times.
Higher Energy Bills - If your dryer isn’t drying properly, taking longer, and turning off and on, it’s using much more energy than it should be to dry your clothes. This will lead to a gradual increase in your energy bills if you don’t fix the problem quickly.
Animals Getting Inside - If your dryer vent is clogged, it could allow lint to prop open the dryer vent hood. This is the little contraption that is outside of your home where the air escapes your house. If this has a buildup of lint, it could prop it open, allowing critters to get into your home (mostly mice).
Early Dryer Replacement - Putting the extra wear and tear on your dryer will likely lead it to a shorter lifespan. Large appliances like this should last for years, so making sure that you are properly caring for it will not only keep it running efficiently, but it will make sure your dryer lasts as long as it should.
What Are The Warning Signs Your Dryer Vent Is Clogged?
There are some things you can look for without taking apart your dryer ventilation system that may indicate your dryer vent is clogged. Here they are…
Your Clothes Aren’t Drying Properly - We mentioned this above as one of the problems when your dryer vent is clear, but it is usually used as an indicator that your vent is clogged as well. If your dryer is taking longer, or multiple cycles to dry, your vent may be clogged up, causing this increase in the time it takes to dry your clothes.
There Is A Musty/Burning Smell - If you have a strange musty smell coming from where the dryer is located, this is most likely the air that should be getting pushed outside. A burning smell could come from the increased heat as well. If you smell one of these you should absolutely have your dryer vent system looked at before it becomes a problem.
Your Dryer Is VERY Hot - Your dryer is going to heat up when you use it, but it shouldn’t be EXTREMELY hot. If your dryer is hotter than normal, it could be due to a backup in the ventilation system.
Lint Is Coming Out Of The Vent - If you have lint coming out of your dryer vent, it means that there is lint making its way into your ventilation system at a noticeable rate. This is a good indicator that your vent should be cleaned out.
If you notice these signs, or haven’t had your dryer vent system cleaned in over a year, it is time to have this done. It’s simple and usually fixes the problem for a long time.
If you have a rigid vent system, meaning your ductwork can’t bend, this will likely lead to less buildup than a flex ventilation system, one of the ducts that bend like a slinky. If you have flex tubing or do a lot of laundry, it is recommended to have your system cleaned every 6 months. If you have a rigid ventilation system and don’t run laundry as often, once a year should do the trick.
If you want to do this yourself you have to beware, if you aren’t used to doing this, it can cause bigger problems. You may not have the proper tools to clean out your vent, and only push the lint into a spot where it can buildup further.
You also may have problems reinstalling the duct that the air runs through to the outside. We recommend calling a professional to help with this if you’ve never done it, to make sure the job is done right and your home is safe.
Airquip specializes in dryer vent cleaning, and you can schedule your professional cleaning today.
Airquip can also upgrade your ductwork to 30 gauge galvanized steel (taped seams and no zip screws used that prevent the lint from being exhausted). This will help reduce lint buildup and make sure that you have a proper ventilation system hooked up to your dryer.
Airquip also specializes in adding booster fans to improve the efficiency of the dryer vent, which is critical for long runs and multiple changes in direction. These fans will help pull the air out of your home much easier than without a fan.