Warning Signs of Clogged Dryer Vents

Posted on: February 19, 2016

There are a number of safety measures in place in your home already, including door and window locks, stair rails, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and even the non-slip mat at the bottom of your bathtub. Each is designed to protect occupants from harm, or prevent damage, but there’s one safety concern that many homeowners fail to address: the dryer vent. A clogged vent can mean more than just reduced airflow, it can result in fire, as more than 15 thousand homeowners across the U.S. can attest to each year. Rather than risk becoming a statistic, make a point of having your dryer vent cleaned on a regular basis. To learn more about how often, read on.

If you’re in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. area and you dryer isn’t performing at maximum efficiency, schedule a dryer vent cleaning today!

Dryer Vent Cleaning Determining Factors

The frequency of dryer usage impacts the production, and accumulation of lint, the substance responsible for clogging your dryer vent. Other factors affecting how often the vent needs to be cleaned include:

  • Pets. Pet hair clings to every item in your home, including clothing, bedding, and towels. Even if you don’t launder pet bedding on a regular basis, there is enough residual hair in the rest of your laundry to make an impact.
  • Location. The distance from your laundry room to the outdoor vent is a crucial factor, as are the number of turns the vent hose takes to get there.
  • Number of occupants. In addition to an increased number of loads, more occupants means more towels are being laundered, one of the biggest producers of lint.
  • Purchasing habits. New clothes produce more lint, than old. In homes with children who frequently outgrow their clothing, lint production may be higher.

Keeping these factors in mind, annual cleaning is recommended for moderate usage, while heavy use may require a semi-annual dryer vent cleaning.

Warning Signs

Obvious signs your dryer vent needs to be cleaned, include:

  • Reduced efficiency. If loads are taking longer to dry, or are still damp at the end of the cycle, airflow is likely restricted due to a buildup of lint.
  • Things are heating up. A dryer that is hot to the touch, or clothes that feel unusually hot when you go to remove them, are warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.
  • There is a burning odor. Residual lint in the lint trap, around the drum, or at any point throughout the exhaust tube can heat up and burn. If you detect this type of odor, turn off the unit and call for service immediately.
  • You can see the lint. Visible lint around the outside of the hose, or at the outside vent, signal the need for a cleaning.
  • It’s been a year. An annual inspection is the best protection against hazardous buildup.

Consequences of Uncleaned Dryer Vents

The accumulation of lint can cause a number of issues, including:

  • Equipment failure. Restricted airflow forces your dryer to work harder, leading to more frequent repairs and wear and tear on parts.
  • Fire. The accumulation of excess heat, and exhaust gases, combined with a highly flammable material like lint, can result in a large, devastating fire.