Is Dryer Vent Cleaning Necessary?

Dryer

Clothes dryer vent cleaning is an easy project yet an activity that not enough home owners do or do not do often enough. Dryer vent cleaning can often be completed by the homeowner but the location of the ducts, length of the dryer vents and other conditions quite often a trained dryer vent cleaning technician is warranted. If your clothes dryer is located adjacent an exterior wall of your house, the dryer duct system might be short enough in which case you can access all of the ducts and clean it sufficiently with a vacuum and brush. In different scenarios hiring a professional is warranted.

Anyone that is familiar with a clothes dryer fully understands that a meaningful quantity of lint is generated and that the lint trap has to be to be cleaned (the quantity of this stuff forever shocks me. Depending on the fabric,the lint trap usually requires cleaning after every load of clothes. Cleaning the lint trap improves air flow in the dryer and lets it operate more efficiently dryer duct cleaning.

The lint trap does not catch all the lint. Some lint escapes through the dryer vents which is vented outside of your house but a certain amount of lint will become stuck in the dryer duct system, particularly in a flexible dryer duct with ridges and in corners in the ductwork as it travels to the exterior vent. The the greater the length of duct work the greater chance of lint not making it all the way to the exterior of your home as the air flow from the dryer deceases the further it has to travel.

A surprising number of house fires are caused every year by dryer hoses that become obstructed by lint. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) studies show that more than of 15,000 home fires annually are related clothes dryers with excessive lint build up being suspected in many of these fires. Lint is highly flammable and if dryer ducts get restricted and cannot properly release hot air created by the dryer heat build up can occur and ignite the lint.

To reduce the chance of fires, the CPSC recommends you:

  • Cleaning the lint trap after every load of clothes.
  • Clean the dryer vent and all ductwork regularly (this includes disconnecting the dryer from the ductwork).
  • Check the the vent on the outside of your home while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it is not, the vent or the duct system may be clogged. Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up. Have a qualified service person clean the inside of the dryer chassis periodically to minimize the amount of lint accumulation. Keep the area near the dryer clean and free of household items.
  • Replace accordion type hoses with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal ducts. Many manufacturers recommend rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal ducting because they provide better airflow. Flexible plastic or foil ducting trap more lint and are prone to kinks or crushing, which reduces airflow.
  • Be particularly careful when drying fabric which has been exposed to flammable chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents or wood finishing oils and stains. Consider washing items that have been exposed to these chemicals more than once to reduce the amount of the chemicals still on or in the laundry and, preferably, hang dry these clothes. Use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. Additionally, do not leave these items once dried in the dryer or in a pile.