Want to Make Sure Your Home is Safe for Your Loved Ones? Don’t Neglect Your Dryer Vents!
Laundry. Like it or not, it’s one of those things that’s part of our daily lives. Some people don’t like doing laundry one bit. Others find it therapeutic.
If there was a laundry 101 class, the most basic thing taught would be to clean the lint trap every. single. time. you use the dryer. But simply cleaning the lint trap isn’t enough to prevent fires and keep your dryer working efficiently.
The dryer vent (which includes the tube that runs from your dryer to the outside of your home) helps remove hot air and moisture, and even though the dryer itself has a lint trap, dust and debris still make it into the vent over time and can get trapped there – especially if your vent has a screen or cap meant to keep small animals, insects, and/or birds out of the vent.
Debris and highly flammable lint can build up in your dryer vent, reducing airflow and backing up exhaust gases. Couple that with the hot temperature of the dryer itself, and it makes for a very dangerous situation.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), fire departments respond to an average of 15,970 home structural fires EACH YEAR that involve clothes dryers or washing machines, with 92% being attributed to dryers. 27% of those dryer fires were caused by dust and lint in the lint trap or dryer vent.
Those are disturbing statistics for an easily preventable problem!
Worse yet, fires aren’t the only risk. There is also a chance that gases and carbon monoxide that should be released outside of the home through the dryer vent could be get backed up into your home through a clogged vent, causing a dangerous air quality risk for you and your family.
Following are several signs that your dryer vent probably needs to be cleaned:
- Clothes take longer to dry than usual
- The dryer is hot to the touch after a cycle
- Your laundry room is hot after a cycle
- The dryer emits a burning smell
- There’s inconsistent airflow from the exhaust vent
- Excess lint appears in the lint trap after each cycle
- You find debris in your yard outside of the dryer vent or can see it trapped in the vent itself
While safety is priority number one, there are other benefits to having your dryer vents professionally cleaned:
- Shorter Drying Times: Do you feel like your clothes take forever to dry? This may be an indication that it's time to get your dryer vent cleaned. An abundance of lint in the vent creates a barrier that warm air has to fight through, so it can do its job. By clearing the vents of debris, you are clearing the way for the heat to come through quickly and efficiently.
- Lower Energy Bills: Getting your dryer vent cleaned is one simple way to save money. By keeping the system clean, drying times are shortened, which in return uses less energy. Less energy means lower energy bills and more money in your pocket!
- Fewer Repairs: We all want our appliances to work as efficiently as possible. When any appliance is being overworked, there’s considerable added wear and tear on the appliance. By keeping dryer vents clean, you can avoid costly repairs or the need to buy a brand new dryer.
With regular use, you should have your dryer vent professionally cleaned at least once a year to prevent lint build-up and ensure your dryer is running efficiently. In addition to having your dryer vent cleaned by a professional, you can take proactive steps to prevent debris build-up and keep your dryer working efficiently while reducing the fire risk.
- Empty lint trap after every load
- Let your dryer cool off for 15-20 minutes between loads
- Replace your flexible vent pipe with a solid metal one
- Move the dryer close to an external wall
- Use liquid fabric softener instead of dryer sheets
- Regularly inspect the vent pipe from outside the house to see if there is debris
However, lint and debris will build up no matter what precautions you take, so it’s important to schedule annual cleanings!
Why Hire a Professional?
Regularly cleaning dryer vents is an important part of routine home maintenance, and it’s recommended that dryer vents are professionally cleaned once per year. While it can be tempting to do it yourself, tackling your dirty dryer vent with a vacuum cleaner and calling it a day simply isn’t the best idea, even if your vent is short.
There are all sorts of DIY dryer vent cleaning products and accessories available, but most leave homeowners with a false sense of security that the job was done right, and the risk of fire has been prevented. Many DIY methods simply fail to remove all of the lint and debris, and there’s even a risk of inadvertently compacting the lint and causing a blockage that can’t be seen, which could then cause a fire.
When you’re ready to have your dryer vent cleaned, it’s important to hire a professional who can thoroughly clean it the proper way. You can trust that National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) members have advanced training and knowledge about proper cleaning methods, and our members also follow a higher standard in cleaning and customer service. In fact, we have an industry standard that’s all about cleaning dryer vents — the Dryer Exhaust Duct Performance (DEDP) Standard. When looking to hire a technician to clean your dryer vent, ask if they follow this standard!
Hiring a trustworthy professional to clean your dryer vent will keep your family safe from a potential fire hazard and lower your energy costs! We make it really simple for homeowners to find a professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area!