How often do you think about your clothes dryer vent? If you’re like most people, not very often, beyond cleaning the lint trap in the dryer.
Dryer fires are responsible for seven deaths, 344 civilian injuries, and $233 million in property damage annually. Some experts believe the numbers may be even higher. While those aren’t huge statistics, having a clean and properly maintained dryer vent is also important to keep your dryer working properly and efficiently. A clogged dryer can cause your energy bills to increase by requiring longer drying times for your laundry.
Clean dryer lint screen with every use
The lint screen that is located inside your dryer should be cleaned every time you use the machine. Keeping this lint trap clean can help reduce energy usage by letting your machine run more efficiently, help your dryer last longer, dry your clothes faster and help reduce the risk of fire.
If you’re a camper, you can keep this removed lint to make a handy fire starter for your camping trips.
If your lint screen has some residue from dryer sheets and fabric softener, soak it in very hot water and degreaser-type of dishwashing soap. Gently scrub the screen with a very soft brush, rinse it well, and let it air dry (making sure it’s fully dry!) before reinserting it into its slot.
Clean dryer vent area annually
One of the easiest things you can do is clean your vent area annually. Disconnect the dryer from the electrical outlet (and turn off the gas if applicable), slide the dryer out, detach the vent from the back of the dryer and vacuum inside as far as you can reach, and outside. Also vacuum the floor, and back and underneath the dryer area while you’re there, since lint can build up in all of these places as well. Reattach the dryer vent carefully and fully before sliding the dryer back into place.
If you’re noticing that it is taking longer for clothes to dry, it may also be time to call in a professional vent cleaning company.
Turn off the clothes dryer before you leave
You wouldn’t leave the oven, the coffee pot, or the iron on when you’re not at home, and this is a good safety strategy to adopt when it comes to all of your appliances, large or small. Especially those appliances that create heat by design.
Have a fire extinguisher on hand
You should have working fire extinguishers available throughout your home, and near the clothes dryer is another place you may want to have one handy. Make sure our extinguisher is rated for electrical fires.
Dryer vent and home inspection
We do a routine check of the dryer vent during a home inspection to check on obvious violations of code and safety issues. This may entail checking that the right type of vent material is used and that the ductwork hasn’t been rigged, and making sure that the end of the dryer vent isn’t ending in a crawl space or attic where it can deposit moisture – which can lead to mold and mildew growth – and lint – which can be a fire hazard.
However, there are likely specific manufacturer’s recommendations for your model of dryer, or local applicable codes that apply to your specific setup and house build, which your home inspector will not have knowledge of, but will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.
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