Why You Should Keep Your Dryer Vents Clean

When it comes to home maintenance, some of the most crucial tasks are the ones most commonly neglected. You might be replacing your home air filters regularly, or cleaning your gutters, but when was the last time you thought about your clothes dryer? Dryer maintenance requires more than simply cleaning the lint screen in between loads of laundry; the real concern is your dryer’s vents. A clogged dryer vent can cost you money—and possibly your home or your life. It is essential that these ventilation systems are cleaned properly at least once a year.

There are a few warning signs to indicate that your dryer vent isn’t working properly. The first sign is if your laundry takes longer than usual to completely dry. Dryers work by removing hot, moist air, so if something is preventing that air from getting out, your laundry will probably need a few extra cycles to dry. If this hot air isn’t able to escape, it could also result in your laundry room, dryer or clothes themselves being unusually warm. If you notice that your clothes have a strange smell, this could also be a sign that your dryer is not ventilating properly.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to keep your vents clean.

A clogged dryer vent can be extremely dangerous

Lint is highly flammable and can pose a severe fire hazard when dryer vents are not cleaned regularly and properly. According to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for more than 15,000 structure fires around the country each year, and 80 percent of those fires start with clogged dryer vents.

Another dangerous aspect of a clogged dryer vent is the possibility of the release of poisonous gas fumes. Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide to back up into your home instead of being exhausted outdoors.

Give your wallet (and the environment) a break

Running your dryer with a dirty lint screen can use up to 30 percent more energy. Cleaning the lint filter between every cycle allows hot air to move efficiently through the dryer. If your dryer vent is clogged or blocked, it will have to run longer to fully dry your laundry, which uses more energy and could cause your electric bills to increase.

In addition to using more energy, if your dryer is taking twice as long to dry clothes, it’s being used twice as much, essentially cutting its life span in half. It will cost you much less in the long run to hire a professional to inspect and clean your vents once a year and avoid these issues altogether.

Prevent animals from nesting

When the lint buildup in your dryer vent becomes too large, the duct hood flap doesn’t open and close properly. If this flap isn’t closing correctly, it could be an invitation for birds and small rodents to make your vent their new home. What better place for these creatures to hide during a cold winter than a nice, warm dryer vent? In addition to keeping your vents clean, investing in a ventilation cap or dryer vent guard will help prevent these animals from nesting and other debris from collecting in your vent while still allowing lint to escape.

After having your dryer vents professionally cleaned, try to keep the buildup to a minimum between yearly cleanings. Always clean the lint filter between loads of laundry, and periodically use a small vacuum to carefully clean out the inside of the dryer, as well as the lint trap. Heavy bedding in particular can be strenuous on your dryer, so consider air drying comforters and heavy blankets. You should also avoid running your dryer for several cycles in a row. Giving your dryer a break in between cycles will allow your dryer to cool down and completely ventilate the hot, humid air from the previous cycle.

You should be able to perform most preventative dryer vent maintenance yourself, but be sure to call in a professional once a year to keep your vents clean and functional. To learn more about cleaning and inspection, call Barineau Heating & Air at (850) 580-4029.

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