You may have grown up being told to clean the dryer filter when you finish using the dryer. This takes only a moment, simply wiping the lint off the filter and replacing it before going about your day. However, this is only the tip of care that your dryer needs, especially when it comes to ventilation. It’s also essential to clean dryer vents, and the result of leaving the build-up could be catastrophic.
Of course, you don’t have to clean your dryer vent every time you use the dryer. That would be exhausting. But you should inspect and clean it at least once per year.(1) If you have a full household, or you do several loads of laundry each week, you may want to clean it even more frequently, up to 3 times a year. But why is this so important? It’s just your dryer, after all. However, that dryer impacts your home in ways you might not realize.
Reasons to Clean Your Dryer Vents
You may have heard horror stories in the past about dryers going up in flames due to a build-up of lint. This isn’t just an old wive’s tale. In a 2017 survey, the National Fire Protection Association found that US fire departments responded to 15,970 home fires involving washers or dryers. Of those fires, 27% were due to a build-up of lint in the clothes dryer.(2) Clearing off the dryer filter after each use is important, but that alone will not solve the issue of lint accumulation.
In addition, your clothes dryer uses more energy than just about any other appliance in your home.(3) That’s why so many residents invest in energy efficient washers and dryers. A dryer clogged with lint will have to use more power in order to work properly, and that, in turn, will cause your energy bills to spike. Cleaning the dryer vent, therefore, is better for your home and better for your environment.
How To Tell The Dryer Vents Are Clogged
It’s easy to tell when the dryer filter is full of lint. You need only lift it from the dryer and see a sheet of lint that covers it. This is also easy to remove. But you don’t spend much time looking at your dryer vent. To know whether or not your dryer vent needs to be cleared of lint, you have to pay closer attention. Here are a few signs that your dryer vent is clogged:
- Dryer loads take longer than usual
- Clothes is unusually hot to the touch
- Surface of the dryer is hot to the touch
- The laundry room has a burning smell
If you notice any of these signs, you should waste no time in clearing your dryer vents.
What You’ll Need to Clean Your Dryer Vents
Before you start to clean the dryer vents, you’ll want to be sure you have the right equipment. Most of these are household items, so you may be ready to go. Here’s what you’ll need to clean your dryer vents:
- A vacuum cleaner
- Cloths or dryer sheets – to wipe down clinging lint
- Screw or aluminum tape
- Lint roller
That’s it! Ready to clean your dryer vents?
Cleaning Your Dryer Vents
Once you’re armed with your equipment, make sure you know where the dryer vent is located. This may mean moving your dryer. Between that and the noise, you may want to be sure that small children and pets aren’t nearby. Here are the steps to cleaning your dryer vents:
- 1. Disconnect your dryer. The dryer needs to be powered down before you can begin.
- 2. Detach the duct. When you move the dryer, you’ll find a wide, silver tube that connects to the outside vent. This is the duct. If this is screwed on, unscrew it. If not, remove the tape and pull it from the wall. Shake any loose lint from the duct.
- 3. Vacuum inside the duct. Take the tube of your vacuum and suck up any lint that may be clinging to the vent. Make sure to do so thoroughly.
- 4. Vacuum lint from the vent. Don’t forget the dryer vent itself. Before attaching the duct again, vacuum the vent itself and scoop up any lint.
- 5. Check the vent for damage. Now is a great time to make sure there are no cracks or obvious damage to your dryer vent. If it is damaged, look into having it replaced.
- 6. Reattach the dryer duct. If it needs to be screwed on, reattach the dryer duct with screws. If not, use aluminum tape to affix it to the vent.
- 7. Clean the floor. With all of that done, you’ll still have excess lint on the floor — and possibly on your clothes, as well. Vacuum the floor to clean up the space. Consider clearing your clothes off with a lint roller.
Once this is finished, you can move the dryer back into place and power it back on. If all goes well, this is not a task you’ll have to do again until next year.
At Service Champions, we don’t just offer tips on conserving energy when it comes to your household appliances. We can also help you make your home more energy efficient and convenient with air conditioning, heating, ductwork, and even new hot water heaters. We are experts when it comes to safe, efficient homes, backed up with over 180 highly trained technicians and annual maintenance checks as part of our MVP program.
Need help making your heating and cooling more efficient this year, or even just more comfortable? We have you covered. Contact Service Champions today for more information or to schedule an appointment. And keep checking our blog for more tips on maintaining your household appliances.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dryer – Today.com
NFPA report – House fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines – National Fire Protection Association
How to lower your power bill – laundry edition – Choose Energy