9 Signs it’s Time to Clean Your Dryer Vent


You probably understand how important it is to clean your gutters, or change your air filters, or even maintain your lawn. But how much time do you spend thinking about your dryer? I’m not a betting man, but I’ll bet the answer is “not much.”

That’s understandable. Don’t feel bad. It wasn’t a lucky guess. Not many people actually think about their dryer, except for when they are using it. And frankly, the most love the dryer gets beyond being used is when you clean its lint trap.

That’s great that you clean the lint trap, but did you know that the most important part of the dryer is your ventilation behind the dryer? This is because the ventilation system plays a huge part in how much air is running through, how hot your dryer runs, and how efficient it can dry your clothes. 

Unfortunately, dryer vents are the second leading cause of house fires in the United States. Somewhere around 15,000 house fires, 20 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and $100 million in property damage are caused by clothes dryers. 

With gas dryers, you have an additional cause for concern beyond the fires. Lint and flue gases use the same exit avenue. A blocked vent can cause carbon monoxide to back up into your home. 

Even beyond fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, letting your dryer vent get clogged can be a money pit. When it takes longer to get your clothes dried, there’s a lot of strain on your dryer. This causes excessive wear and tear, and can cut its life in half! 

Fortunately, this risk can be mitigated, but you need to maintain and clean your dryer more frequently than your current schedule. 

The 9 Signs

One: Drying Time Takes Longer than Normal

Sometimes the first sign that your dryer vent is clogged is when it takes longer for your clothes to dry. You may notice that your clothes aren’t completely dry at the end of the regular cycle. A dryer is supposed to push the hot moist air out of your clothes. If your vent is blocked, the air will stay in your dryer keeping your clothes moist. 

Two: Your Clothing and the Outside of the Dryer are very Hot

How hot are your clothes? Hotter than normal? How about the outside of your dryer? If you notice that the dryer is burning hotter than normal, this is a pretty obvious sign that your vent is not exhausting properly. 

Three: You Notice a Burning Smell 

Lint is very flammable. It can build up in the exhaust tube and in the drum casing. If it gets too hot, it can catch on fire, and that might be the smell you’re smelling. If you smell a burning smell, you should quit using your dryer and have it inspected as soon as possible. 

Four: The Vent Hood Flap Doesn’t Open Properly

If you see lint or debris around the dryer hose or the outside vent; or your outside duct hood flap doesn’t open as it is designed to do, then it could mean that airflow is being restricted. If you don’t have someone clean this out, then more lint will build up and cause additional problems. 

Five: Higher Energy Bills

You hate to see it. But if you are having to run your dryer two or three times just to get your clothes fully dry, you can probably see that your dryer is contributing to two or three times more than it normally would.

Six: Clothes Aren’t Lasting

When your dryer takes longer to dry your clothes, then those clothes are in the dryer much longer. This causes more wear and tear on your clothes, which shortens their lifespan. Also, when the lines are clogged, the heat has to go somewhere. So it goes back into the dryer and into your clothes. 

Seven: You Have Critters Nesting

This one piggybacks off of #4. If you have too much lint buildup in your dryer vent, the duct hood flap won’t close properly. This is a common entry point for our favorite critters like Mr. Mouse, Mrs. Bird, and their neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Snakes. 

If this gives you the creeps as much as it does me, then you should be especially mindful of your outside flap during the colder months. Imagine being a small critter walking through the yard when a warm, open door presents itself to you. No B&E laws in the wild. 

Eight: Your Laundry Room is Hotter than Normal

Running your dryer over and over, plus the hot air being recycled back into your dryer, can cause the heat to leak into your laundry room. As I mentioned, the hot air has to go somewhere and a lot of times it just leaks into the room. 

Nine: It’s been Longer than a Year since Your Last Inspection

Your dryer vents should be inspected every year. This can help give you peace of mind for your safety. But it will also give you an idea for how your dryer is holding up. You should have your dryer cleaned each year too. If you use your dryer more than a few times a week you may want to have it checked out and cleaned more than once a year. 

Here are a few things that may encourage more frequent cleanings: 

  • Family Size – the more loads you wash, the more you’ll need to clean
  • Pets – pet hair and fur can cause your vents to get clogged quicker than pet-free homes
  • Types of Laundry – towels, blankets, and fleece clothing are bulkier and can cause your dryer vents to clog quicker. 
  • Frequency of buying new clothes – new clothes produce more lint than your older clothes that have been washed several times. 

What Are the Next Steps? 

Don’t worry if you’ve never really thought about your dryer vent. Most people haven’t. Hopefully, now you’re thinking about doing something about it. The first thing you should do is plan on hiring a company to go out to your home to take a look. 

Tips for Hiring

Here are a few tips that you can use to make sure you’re hiring someone reputable: 

  1. Can the company provide references? How do the online reviews look? 
  2. Does the company carry a valid business insurance policy? 
  3. Does the company ensure that a CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician (C-DET) will be on the job site? 

If the company has solid & positive reviews and they can answer “yes” to the other two questions, then I think they’ll be a great company to help you out. 


Schedule an Appointment

Patriot Chimney has a few CSIA Certified Exhaust Technicians that you can trust with your home and family. During your service you can expect your technician to inspect, clean, and verify that the venting system is sized and installed correctly. 


1. Schedule

Fill out the form below and someone from our office will give you a call to set up a date and time.


2. Service

Your dedicated technician will arrive at your home on the agreed upon time and get to work!


3. Happiness

You’ll be so thrilled that your family is safe and your energy bills are cheaper that you tell all your friends!

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