Clothes dryers account for more than 15,000 home fires every year. Clothes dryers generate a lot of heat and moisture while drying clothes. Lint and other debris can build up in your dryer vent, reducing air flow to the dryer, backing up dryer exhaust gases, creating a fire hazard. Clothes dryers are an appliance that make our lives easier, but we often take them for granted. Most people never think about the exhaust vent needing cleaning. After all, out of sight, out of mind.
The first sign that you might experience a clogged vent is when your dryer stops drying your clothes in one cycle. Dryers are designed to exhaust the heat and the moisture while it's drying. If that heat and moisture cannot get out of the dryer, then the dryer just sits there and keeps working itself but doesn’t dry the clothes well. The dryer actually works harder and heat builds up and that is what can lead to a dryer vent fire. Dryer exhaust ducts should never exceed 25 foot in length and less when bends are used routing the vent outside. Homes with longer vents are more susceptible to fire.
Here are some of the signs that it's time to clean your vent:
• Clothes do not dry completely after a normal drying cycle.
• Clothing seems unusually hot to the touch after a complete drying cycle.
• Excessive heat is noticed within the room in which the dryer is being operated.
• Large amounts of lint accumulate in the lint trap for the dryer during operation.
• A visible sign of lint and debris is noticed around the lint filter for the dryer.
If your clothes dryer vent has any turns or is a long, I recommend you leave the dryer vent cleaning to professionals who have the proper tools and knowledge to do the cleaning right. There are many DIY videos on the internet that show how to clean the exhaust vent and are WRONG.
Chuck retired from an engineering management career to start a home inspection business