Regularly cleaning your dryer vent can prevent home fires, but it's smart to leave the job to a professional
Regularly cleaning your dryer vent is an important part of routine home maintenance. While it can be tempting to do it yourself, tackling your dirty dryer vent with a vacuum cleaner and calling it a day isn’t a great idea, even if your vent is short. The risks of DIY dryer vent cleaning include inadvertently compacting the lint and causing a blockage, which could lead to a fire. That’s why you should consider hiring a professional to thoroughly clean your dryer vent.
Why Clean My Dryer Vent?
As you use your dryer, lint builds up in hard-to-reach areas. Not only can that buildup lower the efficiency of your dryer, it can also cause a house fire. A dryer with a partially blocked or fully clogged vent has to work harder to remove moisture from your clothes and create heat to dry them. That can cause the dryer to overheat. It can also increase your monthly energy bill.
A professional will clean every nook and cranny in your dryer vent to get rid of all dust and debris, including in hard-to-reach areas that you may not be able to spot on your own. If you try to clean the vent yourself, you may miss a spot or accidentally compact the lint, which makes the problem worse and may give you a false sense of security.
Signs Your Dryer Vent Needs a Cleaning
A dirty dryer vent can be dangerous. There are several signs that your dryer vent needs cleaning. If you notice any of these, it’s time to call a pro.
Clothes take longer to dry
The dryer is hot to the touch after a cycle
Your laundry room is hot after a cycle
The dryer emits a burning smell
There’s inconsistent airflow from the exhaust vent
Excess lint appears in the lint trap after each cycle
You find debris outside the dryer vent
How Often to Have Your Dryer Vent Cleaned
Even with light use, you should have your dryer vent professionally cleaned at least once a year to prevent lint buildup and ensure your dryer is working efficiently.
In some homes, you should have your dryer cleaned even more frequently. If you have three kids and a dog, for example, you’re probably doing a lot of laundry. In that case, it may be smart to increase the frequency of cleanings to two, three, or even four times a year to prevent debris from building up and becoming a fire hazard.
Other Ways to Prevent a Clogged Dryer Vent
Besides having your dryer vent cleaned regularly by a professional, you can take proactive steps to prevent debris buildup and keep your dryer working efficiently while reducing the risk of it catching fire.
Empty lint trap before every load
Let your dryer cool off for 15-20 minutes between loads
Replace your flexible vent pipe with a solid metal one
Move the dryer close to an external wall
Use liquid fabric softener instead of dryer sheets
Regularly check the vent pipe for debris
Keep in mind that these tips are not alternatives to regular cleanings, but instead should be used in addition to regular professional cleanings. Lint and debris will build up no matter what precautions you take, so it’s important to schedule annual cleanings to prevent clogs.