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Better Have That Dryer Vent Cleaned

Almost 15,000 home fires are attributed to clothes dryer vents every single year in the United States alone. Clogged with lint, exhaust ducts are unable to vent the heat generated during the drying cycle, causing sparks which then set fire to the highly flammable lint that has accumulated over time. Additionally, gas powered dryers may emit carbon monoxide, which is highly toxic and may even be fatal.

Have your dryer vents cleaned regularly

Warning signs that a dryer vent is clogged include dryer tops that feel hot to the touch while operating, excessive lint on clothes, clothing that feels unusually hot when it comes out of the dryer, drying time that exceeds what is normal, and a dryer that keeps shutting off. Any of these is an indication of lint buildup in the vent. Additionally, the dryer vent can be equipped with a warning device that alerts homeowners to the accumulation of lint.

There are a few simple steps that can be taken to eliminate the buildup of lint. The lint screen should be cleaned after every load and the area behind the dryer needs to be regularly cleaned. Even the area around the dryer should be kept free of clutter, and space should be left between the dryer and the wall. In addition, the vent duct should carry the exhaust stream out of the house and away from decks, porches and window wells. Both the dryer vent and the exhaust duct need to be cleaned regularly, and accordion-style duct materials should be replaced with semi-rigid metal.

Foil and plastic ducts easily form kinks and ridges where lint can accumulate. If there is a screen at the end of the duct, this too may become clogged with lint and should be regularly checked and cleaned. The more bends in the ducting, the more likely it is that lint will get trapped.

Beyond the safety hazard posed by clogged dryer vents, they also result in higher energy bills and the wastage of dwindling energy resources. Longer running times also add to the wear and tear on a dryer, reducing its lifetime by as much as half. Whether the issue is home safety or environmentally sound practices, a clean dryer vent is essential to peace of mind.