Many people around the world dry their clothes with a clothesline. But if you’re fortunate enough to have your own washer and dryer, then you know how convenient a clothes dryer is. Without it, drying your clothes takes much more time and effort. Depending on where you are able to hang your clothesline, your clothes might not be dry for hours. For these reasons, you wouldn’t want to be without your dryer for an extended amount of time. So, to avoid a scenario in which your dryer can’t do its job, you must take care of your dryer with routine maintenance. Specifically, your dryer requires regular dryer vent cleaning. To make sure you don’t neglect this important element and render your dryer incapacitated or worse, learn what a dryer vent is, why you need to clean it, and how to clean a dryer vent.
- What a Dryer Vent Is
- Why You Need Dryer Vent Cleaning
- Signs You Need Dryer Vent Cleaning
- How to Clean a Dryer Vent
- How Often to Clean a Dryer Vent
- Reasons to Use a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Service
- How to Arrange Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning
What a Dryer Vent Is
A dryer vent or dryer duct is a 4-inch metal vent that expels moisture-laden air from your dryer and funnels it outside of your house. Your dryer dries your clothes by tumbling them in a rotating drum full of heated air that collects the moisture from your wet clothes. A fan then sends the water-heavy air out of the dryer and into the dryer vent. Therefore, the dryer vent is essential to the operation of your dryer.
Types of Dryer Vent Ducts
Mainly, your dryer vent consists of a tube that attaches to the back of your dryer and to a hole cut into the side of your house. This tube would be one of the major types of dryer ducts, which include:
- Rigid metal duct: A rigid metal duct is the only type of dryer vent that you can install within a wall. It has a smooth interior that encourages the flow of air and lint.
- Slim duct or periscope: A slim duct or periscope dryer vent is made of rigid metal. However, it cannot be installed within a wall. However, it does allow you to push the dryer back close to the wall.
- Semi-rigid metal duct: A semi-rigid metal duct is more flexible than a rigid metal duct but still resistant to crushing. This type of duct looks like an accordion and cannot be installed into a wall. The interior of a semi-rigid metal duct is also smooth so that debris and air can move through the duct easily.
- Aluminum foil duct: The aluminum foil duct also looks like an accordion, as coiled metal wire gives these ducts their cylindrical shape. They are made of metal, so they are inflammable. They also cannot be used in wall assemblies. However, they are the most common type of dryer duct, as aluminum foil ducts are inexpensive and easy to find.
Best Dryer Vent Ducts
All of these types of dryer ducts are acceptable (as opposed to plastic or vinyl dryer ducts, which are no longer recommended due to the fact that they’re fire hazards). However, some dryer ducts work better than others to lessen the amassing of lint.
Rigid metal ductwork with adjustable elbows sustains the flow of air when positioned between the dryer and the wall. But semi-rigid ductwork may bunch up whenever the dryer is pulled away from the wall and then pushed back into place. Additionally, lint is less likely to heap up in metal ductwork than flexible ductwork.
Why You Need Dryer Vent Cleaning
So, why do you need to clean your dryer vent?
Well, if your dryer vent is clean, it can transfer the lint more effectively and speed up the clothes drying process. However, if your dryer vent is not clean, it can cause several problems with your dryer, such as:
Increased clothes drying time
The more lint that’s in your dryer vent, the longer your dryer may take to dry your clothes. So, if you notice that drying your clothes takes longer, such as 2-3 cycles, then you should clean your dryer vent.
Poor dryer performance
A large amount of lint in your dryer may prevent your dryer from drying your clothes fully or at all. When you remove your clothes from the dryer, you may find that they’re still damp or even still wet. Furthermore, your clothes may even smell musty or burnt but still not be dry. In these cases, moisture-heavy air probably can’t get out of your dryer due to dryer vent blockage. Therefore, your dryer is heating up and spinning but not drying your clothes.
Higher energy bills
If your dryer doesn’t dry your clothes completely after the first cycle, then you have two options. You can either put the clothes on a clothesline or leave them in the dryer for another cycle. Sending your wet clothes through the dryer again is less work for you but more work for your dryer. The more cycles your dryer finishes, the more energy it consumes. And of course, if you’re consuming more energy, your monthly utility bills are going up. Overworking your dryer also forces it to give out sooner. So clearly, running your dryer more isn’t good for your wallet or the planet.
The worst consequence that can result from a blocked dryer vent is a house fire. If your dryer vent is so full that large pieces of lint are getting stuck inside, these pieces can get heated to the point that they ignite. What’s more, the excess of lint can cause the dryer itself to overheat. Unfortunately, dryer vents cause tens of thousands of house fires each year, along with hundreds of injuries, dozens of deaths, and millions of dollars in damage. The buildup of lint in your dryer vent would also serve as fuel for a fire that started in your house for some other reason.
Signs You Need Dryer Vent Cleaning
Though they vary in their severity, all of the issues listed above are undesirable. Thankfully, you can minimize the odds of these problems plaguing you by watching for the signs of dryer vent clogging and responding to these signs appropriately.
The signs that you need dryer vent cleaning include:
- Your clothes are still damp or wet after going through one cycle in the dryer
- Your clothes smell burnt or musty after going through one cycle in the dryer
- The dryer takes 2-3 cycles to dry your clothes
- The dryer heats up and spins but doesn’t dry
- Moisture gathers inside the dryer door
- The air around your dryer is humid
- The top of the dryer is hot to the touch
- Your clothes are hot to the touch after being in the dryer
- The dryer shuts off before the cycle is over due to a high temperature
- The outside dryer vent fails to open when the dryer is operating
- Unexplainable dust accumulates in your house
How to Clean a Dryer Vent
Responding appropriately to the signs that your dryer vent necessitates involves some simple procedures and more complicated ones. Easy ways to reduce the amount of lint in your dryer vent include:
- Cleaning the dryer lint screen before running the dryer
- Cleaning your dryer drum as often as necessary
- Hanging bulky items such as bed sheets and pillows instead of placing them in the dryer, as these items take longer to dry and send more lint into your dryer vent
- Using as few dryer sheets per cycle as you can, as dryer sheets can deposit chemicals or flammable oils in your dryer
- Wiping your dryer’s moisture sensor with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs every few months, as dryer sheets can cause a film to develop over the moisture sensors and inhibit your dryer’s ability to detect when clothes are dry
Following these steps slows the stockpiling of lint in your dryer vent over time, but they do not eliminate it. Therefore, you must also clean your dryer vent in order to preserve your dryer and prevent fires.
Though not unsafe and not undoable, cleaning your dryer vent is a multi-step process that demands preparation and caution. You must have the right equipment, and you must be careful yet thorough with the appliance and its attachments. By carrying out the actions listed below, you can unclog a dryer vent on your own.
How to Clean Your Dryer Vent
- Unplug the dryer. If you have a gas model, close the shut-off valve in the supply line and then disconnect and cap the supply line pipe.
- Pull the dryer away from the wall.
- Disconnect the dryer vent from the dryer.
- Disconnect each section of your dryer vent tube.
- Use brushes from a dryer vent cleaning kit to sweep out each section of your dryer vent tube.
- Employ a shop vacuum to suck up the dust and access any hidden areas where lint can collect, such as the hole in the back of the dryer where the duct attaches.
- Use a leaf blower to blow lint out of the parts of inaccessible parts of your dryer vent.
- Vacuum or sweep the area behind your dryer, as lint can accumulate in this area and then be sucked up into the dryer.
- Remove the vent cover on the exterior dryer vent hole and use the brush, vacuum, or your hands to remove lint clumps from this end of the dryer vent. You may also find animal nests (from birds, chipmunks, squirrels, or rats) in your exterior dryer vent area. Remove these nests as well.
- Replace the vent cover on the exterior dryer vent hole and reconnect the dryer vent tube to the dryer. Plug the dryer back in and push it back against the wall.
- Run the dryer for 15-20 minutes on the fluff or air-dry setting to ensure all connections are strong and to blow out any residual dust and debris. You could leave the exterior dryer vent cover off during this step for better results.
How to Clean a Long Dryer Vent
Some dryers are very close to exterior walls, so they just have a short length of ductwork between the dryer and the exterior dryer vent hole. However, other dryers require ductwork that stretches for dozens of feet and maybe even vents through the roof in order to reach outside of your house.
So, how do you clean such long dryer vents? Well, some dryer cleaning kits come with rods that extend up to 12 feet. But if that’s not long enough for your dryer vent setup, then your options basically boil down to purchasing a new dryer vent tube every time you plan to conduct dryer vent cleaning or to utilize professional dryer vent cleaning services.
Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit
To clean your dryer vent, you’ll need dryer vent cleaning tools. You can acquire most of these tools by purchasing a dryer vent cleaning kit. Dryer vent cleaning kits usually contain brushes, rods, hoses, and vacuum attachments that accrue and remove lint.
Moreover, you’ll want to augment your dryer cleaning kit with safety goggles, a vacuum with a hose, and a screwdriver to disconnect the vent clamp from your dryer, if necessary. Some homeowners also attach their dryer vent brushes to power drills so that the brushes spin quickly. People also use leaf blowers to push lint toward the exterior dryer vent hole.
How Often to Clean a Dryer Vent
Your dryer vent should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year. In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends cleaning your dryer vent every three months.
But whether you should clean your dryer vent more or less often ultimately depends on your laundry habits. If you have a large household and dry a lot of clothes every time you do the laundry, then you may want to clean your dryer vent more often.
Reasons to Use a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Service
Cleaning your dryer vent is essential, so you must decide how you will address this chore several times a year. While you may save some money by tackling your dryer vent cleaning on your own, you’ll save money and a lot more by taking advantage of a professional dryer vent cleaning services.
The benefits of professional dryer vent cleaning services include:
Getting the best results
A dryer vent cleaning kit, a vacuum, and other resources you might use to clean your dryer vent yourself can usually handle a good amount of lint. But often, they’re incapable of clearing out your dryer vent one hundred percent. What’s more, if you attempt to clean your dryer vent yourself, you can actually make a lint blockage worse. In the event that your brush isn’t long enough or if your vacuum isn’t powerful enough to clear the entire length of the duct, you’ll end up pushing all of the lint into a concentrated area in the middle of the vent. Also, if you’re not perfectly careful, the brushes from your dryer vent cleaning kit can puncture the dryer vent tube or get caught in the ridges of flexible ducts. In that case, you’d have to call a professional to rectify these new dryer vent troubles.
But when you enlist professional dryer vent cleaning services, you’ll have no such troubles. Home maintenance experts possess much better dryer vent cleaning tools. For example, HVAC professionals often have a compressed air system that snakes through the ducts to push or pull lint toward the exterior vent for expulsion. With instruments like these, home maintenance experts can clean dryer vents of all shapes and sizes. They can also discharge every little scrap of lint and protect your dryer vent at the same time. So, when you leave this task to the pros, you can be absolutely confident in your dryer vent cleaning.
Depending on how lengthy and how dirty your dryer vent is, cleaning it out can eat up a good chunk of time. And that time wouldn’t even include the steps of assembling the mandatory materials, accessing the dryer vent, and then returning all of the components to their proper places.
If you had nothing better to do, you could try your hand at dryer vent cleaning. But you’re probably busy enough that you don’t want to commit any of your precious free time to wrangling dust bunnies. By requesting professional dryer vent cleaning services, you can get your dryer vent cleaned on a schedule that works best for you and your dryer without cutting into your action-packed agenda. Home maintenance experts can come when you’re ready, efficiently clean the dryer vent without bothering you, and leave only an immaculate dryer in their wake.
Not having to buy specialized tools
To clean your dryer vent, not only do you have to invest a significant portion of time and effort, but you also must purchase very particular tools. A dryer cleaning kit comes with items made solely for this purpose. So, you won’t really get any other use out of them. And though you’ll only need your dryer vent cleaning kit a few times a year, you must store it year-round.
Besides that, your kit might not last through more than a few dryer vent cleanings anyway. If the brushes ever get stuck in the tubes, the rods may break. Also, some dryer vent cleaning kits parts are made of plastic that can easily crack. Generally, the components of a dryer vent cleaning kit aren’t the most durable. So, you might need to buy another kit in a year or so.
Finally, if you supplement your dryer vent cleaning kit with your vacuum, your vacuum will fill with lint at least once during the process. As a result, you’ll have to clean out your vacuum after cleaning the dryer vent. Plus, managing a dryer vent cleaning may shorten the lifespan of your vacuum as well.
But if you rely on professional dryer vent cleaning services instead, you can spare yourself the hassle of messing with any dryer vent cleaning kits at all. You can also conserve the other cleaning supplies you already have. Again, home maintenance experts have the ideal tools for the assignment, so they don’t expect you to contribute anything. Though you have to pay for professional dryer vent cleaning services, you wouldn’t have to pay for a dryer vent cleaning kit, new dryer vent tubing, or a new vacuum (any sooner than necessary), so the costs ultimately even out.
How to Arrange Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning
If you know your dryer vent requires cleaning, or if you aren’t sure and would like an expert opinion, then you’re ready for professional dryer vent cleaning services. And you can receive excellent professional dryer vent cleaning services from BenchMark Home Services.
BenchMark Home Services, a branch of Capozzi Design Build, offers meticulous dryer vent cleaning services that are no trouble for you. Our home maintenance experts can manage any dryer vent situation and ensure that your dryer vent is totally clean. We are committed to guarding the health and safety of your house and your family, so we do the job right the first time, every time. We also make sure that your dryer area is spotless before we vacate the premises.
Everyone on the BenchMark team has years of experience, extremely refined skills, and a winning attitude. We’re here to help the homes in the greater Cleveland area, as our service areas include:
- Moreland Hills
- Hunting Valley
- Cleveland Heights
- Boston Heights
- University Heights
- Chagrin Falls
- Shaker Heights
- Pepper Pike
- Gates Mills
- Willoughby Hills
So, don’t waste any more time wondering or worrying about your dryer vent. Contact us today to trust your dryer vent cleaning to BenchMark Home Services!