The Best Way to Clean Dryer Vents

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Clothes dryers are a handy household convenience, but they can also be
dangerous. In 1998, dryers caused 15,600 fires, 20 deaths and 370
injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A
major cause of these fires is lint building up in the dryer or exhaust
duct. It it essential that you clean your dryer vent regularly.

Symptoms and Causes

  • Short vents blow better than long ones, and full-size dryers blow better than
    smaller stack dryers, something to consider when buying and installing
    your dryer. Also, vents with many turns and elbows are less efficient
    and cause a greater buildup of lint, so make the vent tubing as short
    and straight as possible. If it’s impossible to change your current
    dryer configuration, then adding a vent fan booster can help. Symptoms
    of clogged dryer vents include clothing taking longer to dry, clothing
    being very hot and still damp when the dryer finishes (especially heavy
    items like towels), the dryer itself feels hotter or there's no
    visible lint on the lint screen, indicating the exhaust system is
    clogged. Depending upon usage, almost all vents need cleaning at least
    every two to three years.

Dryer Vent Cleaning

  • Unplug the dryer and pull it away from the wall. Unscrew the clamp holding the
    flexible vent hose to the aluminum elbow. Detach both hose and elbow to
    inspect for lint. Use a flashlight to look inside the dryer for
    clothing or other objects stuck in the vent pipe. Use an industrial
    vacuum cleaner to vacuum the area in back of the dryer around the vent
    pipe, the internal dryer vent, the interior of the hoses, and the floor
    and wall behind the dryer. Scrub the area behind the dryer to get rid
    of any residual soap scum, which can attract lint. Finish by
    reconnecting the vent hose and elbow. Also, clean the area around the exterior vent outside the house. Wear gloves, a dust mask and safety glasses and
    remove the insulation surrounding the duct which leads to the
    exterior vent. Unscrew the hose clamp and separate the hose, then
    unfasten the exterior vent and gently slide it out and away from the
    house. Vacuum the exterior vent thoroughly, being sure to vacuum
    underneath the vent door. Reassemble the exterior vent and insulation.

Preventing Lint Buildup

  • Ensure adequate clearance space between the dryer and wall,
    because a dryer and vent crushed against a wall may result in reduced
    airflow and lint build-up. Clean the lint trap after
    every load of laundry and also look inside the pocket where the trap
    sits and clean out any loose lint you see there. By doing this simple
    regular cleaning, you can avoid 90 percent of dryer vent problems.

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