Everybody loves a product that requires no maintenance. Why can’t everything just work without causing you any hassle? Unfortunately, such products are few and far between, and your dryer is not one of them. What’s more, neglecting to perform any maintenance on your dryer for long periods of time can have dire consequences. Not only can it render your dryer an ineffective machine that simply throws your clothes around without drying them, but it can also cause dangerous, even deadly, fires. There is some good news, though. Dryer maintenance is fairly simple and does not need to be performed all that often to keep you safe. If you regularly clean your dryer’s vents and ducts, you can rest easy and enjoy clothes that are actually dry.
Here is everything you need to know about dryer vent cleaning.
Why You Should Clean Your Vents
Your Dryer Will Dry Better
Cleaning your dryer vents has many benefits. The most immediate, in terms of your laundry, is that your dryer will actually work better. When your vents go uncleaned for extended periods, lint and dust start to build up at various points, reducing airflow. Airflow is the single most important factor in your clothes getting dry. As the dryer heats your clothes, the moisture within them turns to steam and is funneled out of the dryer and out of the building – this is why you can see clouds of steam coming out of your external dryer vent during colder weather. When the vents and ducts are obstructed, less of that steam is able to escape to the outside, forcing it to linger in the dryer with your clothes. The result is hot, wet laundry. If you keep the air path clear with regular cleaning, however, that moisture will be out of the dryer, out of mind.
Your House Won’t Catch Fire
Dryer fires are a serious concern, occurring thousands of times each year and resulting in property damage, injury, and death. Obstructed airflow can cause your dryer to overheat. Conveniently, the same lint causing the blockage has a tendency to catch fire. This results in a perfect storm of a fire hazard. Cleaning out your dryer vents is the best thing you can do to make sure you are not the next one to experience a dryer fire.
There are other reasons to clean your dryer vents, but these two are the most important. The risk of fire alone should be enough to make anyone want to get down to business with their vents!
How Often Should You Clean Your Dryer Vents?
While every home is different, you should generally clean your dryer vents once a year. If you have a large family and always have a load of laundry in the dryer, then you may want to consider cleaning more frequently. For most people, however, cleaning once a year will be sufficient to keep your dryer running efficiently and avoid risking a fire.
Where Are Your Dryer Vents?
“Dryer Vent” primarily refers to two specific places. The first is on the back of the dryer, where the hot, moist air exits the dryer into a piece of ductwork or tubing. The second is on the exterior of the building, where this air escapes. Both of these vents need to be cleaned and maintained, as do the ducts that connect them.
How to Clean Your Dryer Vents
Call a Professional
If you are worried that you haven’t been cleaning your dryer vents enough and are overwhelmed at the prospect of doing it yourself, then you are in luck. It is very easy to find a professional who will clean your vents and clean them well. This method takes all the hassle out of cleaning your vents and can be a great option. If you make sure to schedule a visit once per year, you will scarcely have to worry about your dryer vents again.
Do it Yourself
If you want to save money and don’t mind doing the cleaning yourself, it can be fairly straightforward to clean your own dryer vents. The first step in this process is removing the duct from the back of your dryer. Make sure that the dryer is unplugged or that the gas is turned off before doing this. Some ducts will require tools to remove, while others will come off more easily. Once the duct is removed, clean the duct and the inside of the vent using a vacuum and a brush. Special kits for cleaning dryer vents are also available, most of which are very inexpensive. These kits are helpful when the ductwork is too long to be cleaned with what you have on hand. The second important step is to locate your external vent. Most of these vents are easy to locate and fairly easily accessible. Every building is different, however, and some external vents are difficult to reach without the help of an expert. Once you locate your external vent, remove the cover and remove any debris. In addition to dust and lint, external dryer vents can be home to birds and other critters.
Other Things to Consider
Even if you know that your vents are clean, snow can be a serious problem for external dryer vents. If you notice that your dryer has stopped working well and you live in a colder climate, check that your external vent is not obstructed by snow and ice.
Many homes use ribbed or “accordion-style” ductwork for dryer vents. While this kind of ductwork is space-efficient and cheap, the ribbing can trap lint and debris, leading to more rapid blockages. The next time you clean your dryer vents, consider switching out your old ducts for smooth tubing. This kind of tubing will allow debris to move past without getting caught, leading to more effective drying and less cleaning for you.
With this guide, you should be familiar with the benefits of cleaning your dryer vent and be confident that you can do it, whether it be by yourself or with the help of a professional. Although it may seem like a drag, this piece of maintenance is important to remember. Just clean once a year, and you can protect yourself and your home from fires while also improving the performance of your dryer. Go get in those vents!