How Often Should I Clean my Dryer Vent?

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Dryer vent cleaning

For most people, the phrase “clean the dryer” refers to whipping off the lint trap and putting it back in. If your trap has layers of blue, pink, gray, etc. you’re probably waiting too long between “cleanings”.  The bigger issue is that whipping off the filter isn’t enough to keep your dryer running smoothly or safely.

Yes, hot air passes the filter and some of the lint in the dryer gets caught there, and yes the more lint on the lint trap the harder it is for your dryer to work, but if you’re using dryer sheets, the filter may be clogged even when there is no lint on it, not to mention what could be going on in the drum or the dryer vent… We’ll get to that, though, first things first.

Cleaning the Lint Trap

If you’re using a fabric softener dryer sheet, your filter might be clogged anyway. The residue from dryer sheets can build up in the webbing of the filter to the point that it creates a solid, invisible barrier, preventing hot air from escaping the drum and being vented out of the machine. Pour a little water on the filter and see if it passes through. If the water pools, instead of passing through, wash the filter with warm soapy water and a scrub brush until the water can pass through easily.

Check your trap every time you use it. If you use dryer sheets, you’ll probably need to wash the filter every 3 months or so, to be sure that your machine is venting properly.

Cleaning the Drum

The Drum doesn’t usually need to be cleaned unless one of your kids has left gum in their pants pocket. Gum, lipstick, and other oily residues can make a big mess on your unit and on your unsuspecting laundry. To get it out, scrape out what you can with a spatula that won’t scratch the paint, then heat the drum for about 15 min with a few damp rags to loosen the residue. When it’s warm, wash with a rag that has a little laundry detergent and some hot water in it. Finally, wipe with a dry rag to remove all residue, soap and moisture from the drum.

Pet hair and dirt can also get stuck in the drum, but can easily be wiped out with a damp rag.

This should be done as needed, as soon as hair, grit or grease enter your dryer drum.

Cleaning the Dryer Vent

The Dryer vent is the most important part to clean and the one that gets the least attention. The vent is where the heated air escapes the drum after passing through the lint trap. Lint traps are helpful but they don’t catch all the lint and debris that are carried on the hot air, that passes to and through the dryer vent. If the vent tube is kinked or curved, there are places where lint can build up and clog internally. The warning signs you’ll notice first are:

  1. The dryer starts overheating
  2. Your laundry doesn’t get dry after a single cycle

You can try using a shop-vac and round brush to clean the vent tube out on your own, but that doesn’t address the buildup inside the dryer or inside the wall. It’s better to have us come out and clean it for you, we use the top of the line equipment with HEPA filtration systems to keep the air in your house clean.

Depending on your family size, vent cleaning should be done every 1 – 2 years, or as needed.

dryer vent cleaningA clogged dryer vent can:

  • Decrease the efficiency of your dryer
  • Increase your utility costs
  • Overheat
  • Pump carbon monoxide into your home
  • Give small animals and birds a comfortable place to nest
  • Cause a fire

Clogged dryer vents are the #1 cause of residential fires, resulting in more than 15,000 fires per year.

Don’t become a statistic, call Sarah’s Appliance Repair to come out and clean your dryer for you.

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