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10 Signs that Your Dryer Vent Needs Maintenance

Introduction

You clean your lint trap every time you dry your clothes, right? 

Okay, cool. You passed the first test. When was the last time you thought about your dryer vent? You’ve probably never really thought about it. Not many people do. The dryer vent, though, is the most important part of your dryer. This is because it plays a huge part in how much air is running through, how hot your dryer is running, and how efficient it can dry your clothes. 

Dryer vents are the culprit to 15,000 house fires, 20 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and more than $100 million in property damage per year. This is a staggering figure, especially considering how easy it is to avoid. 

But fires aren’t the only problem you get with ignoring your dryer vent. These are 3 of the other most common consequences to ignoring your dryer vent: 

  1. Carbon monoxide poison – lint and dryer gases use the same exit avenue. If the vent is clogged with lint, the gases backup, and leak from the dryer. 
  2. Higher energy bills – you’ll have to run the dryer more than normal to dry your clothes. This causes extra energy that you have to pay for. 
  3. Worn out clothes – longer drying time is not good for clothes. In addition to time in the dryer, clogged dryer vents usually lead to hotter temperatures since the heat can’t escape. So your clothes are in contact with much higher heat.

They say there’s virtue in moderation. I like to believe that this can be true for your dryer, too. There are a few things that increase risk and will require you to pay a little more attention to your dryer vent, such as: 

  • 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. 

Luckily, the danger can be minimized by paying attention to these signs telling you that your dryer vent needs maintenance.

Table of Contents

1. Clothes Don't Completely Dry

2. You Feel Excessive Heat in the Laundry Room

3. Lint & Debris Accumulate Around the Lint Filter

4. Large Amounts of Lint in the Lint Trap

5. Clothes Take Longer to Dry

6. Dryer Vent Hood Flap Doesn't Open Properly

7. Debris Appears Around Outside the Dryer Vent Opening

8. Clothes Seem Unusually Hot to Touch

9. Clothes Smell Musty

10. It's Been Longer Than a Year Since Your Last Inspection

#1 Clothes Don’t Completely Dry

If your dryer isn’t drying like it used to, it’s probably because your dryer vent is clogged. Your dryer is supposed to heat up and evaporate the wet clothes. This should remove any wet lint, too. If the dryer vent is clogged, there’s nowhere for the water to escape, keeping it in the dryer. 

#2 You Feel Excessive Heat in the Laundry Room

When the vent is clogged, the heat has to go somewhere. Sometimes, it just goes back to your clothes. But sometimes it leaks into your laundry room or in your home. 

#3 Lint & Debris Accumulate Around the Lint Filter

The job of the lint filter is to catch the lint. Sometimes small amounts of lint can get by the filter and over time accumulate around it. This may be one of the first signs that you have a problem. And maybe one of the contributing factors around the other problems. 

#4 Large Amounts of Lint In the Dryer’s Lint Trap

You should clean your lint trap every time you use your dryer. You’ve probably heard that hundreds of times. So let’s assume that you do, but there’s a larger than normal amount of lint being trapped. This could be a sign that your dryer vent is clogged. 

Other Considerations

If you just bought a new dryer, this could be normal. Newer models are designed like this. The thought is that it should be the job of the dryer to remove lint from the clothes, not the washer. This is why you may see more lint. 

#5 Clothes Take Longer than 40 Minutes to Dry

Just as with the clothes aren’t drying completely, you could have a dryer vent issue when the clothes take longer to dry. If too much lint accumulates, the dryer’s drying time will increase significantly. If the airflow is restricted the rate at which clothes are drying will be reduced. 

#6 Dryer Vent Hood Flap Doesn’t Open Properly 

This could happen from too much lint accumulating in the flap opening or any number of things that broke it. But if the hood flap isn’t opening as it should then airflow has been restricted, which will cause buildup. 

#7 Debris Appears Around Outside the Dryer Vent Opening

This one could be #6.5. If you go outside near the dryer vent hood flap and see that lint has been pushed out onto your yard, that may be a sign that your dryer vent is clogged. It may be the stage just before #6, where your vent hood flap is clogged by the lint. 

#8 Clothes Seem Unusually Hot to the Touch

Just like with the wet clothes, where the water stays trapped in the dryer, heat can do the same thing. If the dryer vent is clogged, the heat doesn’t have anywhere to go. So it just stays and heats up the clothes more than it should. 

#9 Clothes Smell Musty

If your dryer vent is clogged and the wet lint is being trapped in the tube, it could start to cause mildew and mold, which can spread the smell to your clothes. The best way to fix this is to, of course, remove the mold. 

Other Problems

A clogged dryer vent isn’t the only reason for your clothes to smell moldy and musty. Here are a few more: 

  • Leaving your clothes in the washing machine too long
  • Using too much detergent
  • Not using enough detergent
  • Having a dirty washing machine

#10 It’s Been Longer than a Year Since You’ve Had an Inspection

This really is last but not least. You know the benefits of having your gutters regularly cleaned, your oil changed every few months, and you go to the dentist every six months. But you forget about your dryer vents. To ensure that your dryer is working in the most efficient way possible, you need to have it checked regularly, at least once per year.

What Now? 

The first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with a reputable company. If you haven’t done that before, no worries.

Here are a few tips that you can use to help you:  

  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 and 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. 

Once your dryer is clean you can sit back and reap the benefits: 

  • Your dryer will operate more efficiently
  • Your energy bills should drop back to normal
  • Your clothes will thank you by drying faster
  • Longer lasting, efficient dryer

But you should also be more mindful of giving your dryer vent the attention it deserves. You’ll want to continue cleaning the lint trap every time you use your dryer. And keep an eye on how the dryer is performing. You should also make sure to avoid doing any of the following: 

  1. Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow, and dirt
  2. Replace any coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal ducts
  3. Check regularly to make sure nests are not blocking the outside vent
  4. Keep the area around the dryer free of items that can burn 
  5. If you’re going to be away from home for an extended time, unplug the dryer
  6. Don’t use your dryer without a lint filter or with a filter that is loose, damaged, or clogged. 
  7. Don’t overload your dryer
  8. Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent
  9. Don’t dry items with foam, rubber, or plastic. And don’t dry fiber materials or any items that state “dry away from heat.”
  10. Don’t leave your dryer running if you leave home or when you go to sleep

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

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2. Service

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