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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