When was the last time you cleaned your dryer vent? If you struggled to answer this question, then you are not cleaning it often enough. As a result, you may be putting your family in danger every time you do laundry!
The U.S. Fire Administration states that nearly 3,000 home fires occur each year because of built-up lint in dryer vents. Needless to say, this is a part of your home where you probably don’t give much thought when it comes to your daily and weekly cleaning tasks. However, it’s important to realize how dangerous it can be to leave your dryer vent full of lint.
Why do dryer vents get dirty?
Every time you wash your clothes, the agitating water in the washing machine loosens the particles in your clothing’s fabric. In turn, this causes lint to form on the surface of the clothes. When the clothes are dried in the dryer, the lint can get stuck in your dryer’s vent hose and duct. If the vent isn’t cleaned regularly, lint will continue to build up and restrict air flow. This restricted air flow can cause the lint to overheat and ignite.
How will I know when to clean my dryer vents?
You should clean your dryer vent on a routine basis. However, if you notice any of the following, they are warning signs that your vent may be dangerously full of lint!
- The outside surface of your dryer is extremely hot while operating.
- Clothes are taking longer to get dry.
- A burning smell is noticed when clothes are drying, or clothes come out smelling burned.
- The laundry room feels very humid when the dryer is running.
- Clothes feel much warmer than normal when the dryer stops.
Here’s how to clean your dryer vent
Remove your dryer’s lint trap
You should clean your lint trap every time you use your dryer. However, if you’ve failed to do so, now is the best time to get it cleaned up. You should be able to remove the built-up lint with your hands. If there are pieces stuck in the filter, you can use your vacuum’s narrow hose attachment to remove the remaining lint.
Clean the lint trap housing
Use your vacuum’s narrow attachment to clean the inside of the lint trap housing. Once you feel you have all the lint removed, use a flashlight to look in the housing unit and be sure there wasn’t anything you missed.
Remove the dryer duct
You will need to first unplug your dryer (electric units) or shut off the gas valve (gas units). If you don’t know how to shut off the gas, call a qualified professional or your local gas utility company. Next, disconnect the dryer duct and pull the unit away from the wall so you have more space to work with. Then, you will be able to use your vacuum’s various hose attachments to remove all the built-up lint from inside the duct. Don’t forget to also vacuum the area where the dryer was against the wall. There may be lint on the floor and wall surfaces that you can remove.
Reconnect your dryer duct
Once everything is clean, reconnect your dryer duct and push the unit back into place. Don’t forget to also reconnect the unit’s electricity or turn on the gas.
If you find yourself forgetting to check your dryer vent regularly, set a reminder for yourself using your phone, calendar, or sticky notes to take care of it once a week. A clean dryer vent will make it easier for warm air to move through the system, make your unit run more efficiently, and will also prevent a dangerous fire hazard.