How Often Should Dryer Vents Be Cleaned?

By September 12, 2020October 5th, 2020Home Maintenance
How Often Should You Clean Your Dryer Vent?

Depending on the size of your family or their activity level, you may be washing a lot of clothes per week!  The dryer becomes your saving grace to get everyone’s clothes clean and ready to wear in a timely manner. How often should dryer vents be cleaned? At least once a year but sometimes it may need to be more often.

Maintaining the dryer vent is important to get the life out of your appliance.  Just cleaning the filter each time is not enough.  The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) reports that there are over 15,000 home fires a year due to dryer malfunctions.  Let’s take a look at how often dryer vents should be cleaned.

What is a dryer vent and where is it located

What Is a Dryer Vent and Where Is It Located

A dryer vent is located at the back of the dryer and connects it to the wall duct through a vent pipe that looks like a silver flexible tube, called a duct.  Often it is aluminum like the one in the picture above.

The tube connects to the wall that sends the air outside.  When clothes are put in the dryer and it is turned on, they rotate in the drum, and heat releases to dry the clothes.  The moisture pulls out of the dryer and out the back of the vent.

Why clean the dryer vent

Over time the dryer vent may become clogged.  The clog will not allow the moisture to escape, it will stay inside the rotating drum, and the clothing won’t dry. Lint and other debris, such as nests of animals, can clog the vent and start a fire. Also, the vent can burn out the heating element if there is a clog.  This may not start a fire but you also won’t have dry clothes.

When should you clean the dryer vent

The recommendation for dryer vents to be cleaned for a small family is once a year.  However, larger families, families who dry clothes a few times a week, or those with pets that have hair and fur may want to inspect and clean it a few times a year. 

If you have pets, try shaking off the hair first before putting the article in the dryer, this will help keep the drum and the vent clean. Surprisingly, if you purchase new clothes often, they produce a lot of lint until they are laundered a few times. This is also a good recommendation for those who live near the beach and bring home the beach to your laundry.

Warning signs

You may notice it is taking your clothes 2-3 cycles to dry and this is a great indicator that there may be a clog and worth checking it out.  Also, the external cabinet of the dryer or the control panel may become hotter than usual. This is also a sign there is a clog and time to turn the dryer off to inspect.

How do you clean dryer vents

How Do You Clean the Dryer Vent?

There are various parts to inspect and clean on a dryer.

1.Filter– this is the best place to start and is the easiest. Cleaning this involves pulling the filter out and cleaning the lint out of the holder.  Throw the lint away so it does not cause a fire.

The filter may be on top of the dryer or it may be inside the door of the dryer, depending on the machine.  Cleaning this out after every load will allow more air to flow.

Run a little water through the filter to see if it pools or drains and this will also allow you to see if air flows through or needs a more thorough cleaning.

2. Drum– the drum is the big holder that you put all the clothes in.  As mentioned earlier, shake off pet hair, sand, and dirt before putting the articles inside.

Also, check to make sure nothing has melted in the drum (like a crayon or candy from your child’s clothing pockets). Wiping down the inside of the drum after a load can help with preventing the accumulation of other elements.

3.Dryer Vent– there are a few ways to clean this.

Purchase a brush that has an extendable wand and use this to clean out the lint. You can use an air compressor to blow out the lint.  Then, pick up the lint so it isn’t sucked back into the dryer and clogs or causes a fire. Another way is to use a vacuum cleaner and brush together to suck out the lint. You can find these on Amazon for about $20.

4.Visual inspection

Check the floor behind the dryer or under the cabinet to make sure no lint is laying around.  After all this cleaning, the last thing you want is the lint to become clogged in the dryer vent.

Check out this video from Lowe’s about cleaning your vent. Also make sure the hood vent closes all the way.  If not, you may be allowing in pests- little and big!

Do you need a professional to clean your dryer vent

If the above seems like a lot of work or you are not able to perform that type of work, hiring a professional would be a good idea.  Contact a local home inspector to get a referral for a professional to do the job.

Conclusion

The laundry area is an important area to maintain and keep your home safe. If you need a home inspection, the laundry area is one of the areas we inspect at Rivertown!  Call us or drop us a line below and we can help. 

The Rivertown Team

Author The Rivertown Team

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