Dryer vent fires are now the number 1 cause of all home fires in the US, outpacing chimney fires. Dryer vents are one of those out of sight, out of mind things that you can't afford to ignore. When you realize that the lint trap on a dryer (even a new one), only removes or stops 80% of the lint - you can see the importance of cleaning your exhaust system once a year.
Dryer lint is highly flammable and under the right conditions can cause a dryer fire, often spreading through the vent system which in turn spreads the fire rapidly throughout your home. As a dryer does it's job, about 1/2 a pound of water is removed, lint is trapped by your lint trap, and air is forced through your dryer exhaust system. Throughout time, this excess lint backs up in your dryer and the exhaust or venting system. Airflow is restricted, your dryer works harder and the motor overheats. With excess lint buildup, your dryer is now a ripe candidate for a dryer fire.
Dryer Safety and Inspection Tips
1. Make sure your lint trap has no rips and you clean it before each drying cycle. If the lint is wet on your lint trap, it could mean that it is time to clean your dryer vents. Also, the lint screen should be lightly scrubbed every week and washed with light dish washing soap.
2. Visually inspect your exterior vent hood on the side of your home when the dryer is operating. Are the flaps moving, can you feel any airflow? If not, it is time to get your dryer exhaust system cleaned and your dryer inspected.
3. Inspect around your dryer for lint on the floor. This is a warning sign that your dryer exhaust system needs to be cleaned.
4. If your clothes are taking more than one cycle to dry, this could be a sign that your dryer exhaust system needs to be cleaned right away.
5. Never dry any clothes or rags that have been soaked with any flammables. It can cause an explosive situation in your dryer.
Dryer Vent Cleaning Recommendations
There are some online products available that you can use to clean your vents such as brushes with rods that can be attached to a high powered drill. Most of these products are inferior and do a less than satisfactory job for dryer vent runs over 10'. It is important for you to call a professional when doing dryer vent cleaning because of the different situations that can and will be encountered. Some of these conditions are wrong vent types, loose or disconnected vents, or vents with too many angles and bends. A dryer vent cleaning professional usually has different types of cleaning equipment depending on the situation. It is important for you to ask the dryer vent professional if they will do on site repairs or upgrades as approximately 50% of the jobs encountered will need something of this nature.
Dryer Vent Repairs
Some of the repairs that may be needed might include: rerunning or changing out the dryer vent exhaust duct work, adding or changing a vent hood that exits the site of the building, going into the attic or crawl space to do repairs, cleaning from the top of the roof starting from where the duct exits towards the dryer, and even tearing into the wall or ceiling to repair a vent that has come loose. If you aren't a handy person that can do all the before mentioned repair items, leave it to a dryer vent professional.
Remember, to prevent how to clean dryer vents in your home, get your dryer exhaust system cleaned once a year. If you live in a condominium complex make sure your property manager knows the importance of dryer vent maintenance. Apartment owners should also make dryer vent cleaning in their units a priority.