Dryer vent cleaning, much like washing machine upkeep, is something you must put on your laundry room cleaning checklist. “Over time, lint and small debris builds up in exhaust pipes and needs to be removed,” says David Steckel, home expert for Thumbtack, the home-care app. “This buildup can reduce the efficiency of the unit and eventually become a fire hazard.
In fact, dirty dryer vents are the leading cause of domestic dryer fires, according to the US Fire Administration. So you’ll want to tackle cleaning the clothes dryer vent at least once a year. The last thing you want to do is wait for a burning smell to waft through your laundry room.
The good news for homeowners is that dryer vent cleaning is a DIY job that doesn’t entail an elaborate cleaning process unless you’ve completely neglected this chore. In that case, you’ll want to look into professional dryer vent cleaning and lint removal in the exterior vent.
Once the vent hose is in tip-top shape, you’ll notice that your dryer is working better, you have completely dry clothes at the end of each cycle, cleaner lint screens, and most importantly, the peace of mind that your laundry room is not going to cause a house fire.
How do you know it’s time to clean your dryer vent?
There are a few signs that duct cleaning is in order and you need to deal with a clogged dryer vent. Some types of dryer ducts (foil, plastic, or vinyl) are more prone to clogging and consequently can lead to a house fire. Ideally, these dryer vents could be replaced with a rigid metal duct. If that’s not possible, take extra care to ensure these dryer vents are always clean and debris-free. Homeowners should keep the following in mind.
“If you feel like it is taking longer for your clothes to get dry, you probably need to clean out the vents,” Steckel notes. Your clothes drying cycle shouldn’t take longer than the designated time allotted.
The dryer unit is hot to the touch or there’s a burning smell when you run the dryer. Your clothes should not feel extremely hot (more so than usual) when the dry cycle ends. Remember: A clog in the vent can lead to dryer fires.
The laundry room gets humid or has restricted air flow when you run the dryer. (The hot air may be seeping into the room instead of escaping through the outside vent if there is an obstruction in the vent hose.)
The lint filter is filled with more lint than usual, even if you toss in wool dryer balls.
If your energy bill is higher than normal, it might mean that your clothes dryer is working harder than it should.
How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Dryer Vent?
While the standard advice is to whip out your vent brush about once every 12 months to make sure your dryer vent duct is free of lint and other debris, you may need to put your dryer vent cleaning kit to use more often if your household has pets or if you have a large family or lots of laundry (think kids who play a ton of sports).