There are a few telltale signs that it is time to have your dryer vents cleaned, even if it is not yet time for your annual maintenance. Here are a few of the top ways to tell:
- Things take longer to dry, such as needed to put clothes back in for a second cycle
- Clothes come out extremely hot
- The dryer itself gets hot to the touch during the drying cycle
- There is a strange smell coming from the dryer when it is working, including a burning smell or musty smell
The Importance Of Cleaning your dryer vent
Cleaning these ducts isn’t just important for your clothes and time (and sanity). Over months and years, lint can accumulate in these ducts and mix with hot air and ignite, creating a fire hazard. Every year, dryer duct fires cause $35 million in damages, hundreds of injuries and even deaths. If you ever notice a burning stench in your laundry room, this is another indication you should get cleaning sooner rather than later.
Experts recommend you clean out your dryer vents twice a year. Doing so on your own might sound like an intimidating prospect but there are ways to do it easily, cheaply and relatively quickly.
What you’ll need to clean your dryer vent
- A dryer vent cleaning kit — you can purchase one of these at your local hardware store or online for about $24.
- Power drill
- Vacuum or broom and dustpan
There are some parts of your dryer that you should regularly clean and maintain yourself, including the filter and the drum. Performing regular maintenance on these parts of your dryer will help keep it running smoothly between your professional dryer maintenance sessions.
- Filter : It is basic homeowner knowledge that you should clean your dryer filter after each use. This filter is usually accessible through a small door on top of or just inside the dryer. Simply open the door, pull out the filter and remove the layer of lint that builds up after each use. However, you should also take it a step further by washing your filter after every couple uses. Products like fabric softeners or dryer sheets may clog the mesh of the filter, making it less productive.
To test your filter to see if it needs to be washed, remove excess lint and pour a small amount of water onto the mesh screen. If the water pools up instead of flowing through, it is time for a wash. Use warm, soapy water and a brush or sponge to wash off the mesh until water can freely flow through.
- Drum : The drum of your dryer is the area where the clothes go in. In general, the drum does not need a lot of extra maintenance, but you should wipe it down regularly to prevent build up of gunk or debris. This is especially true if you have a home with lots of pets or little kids with gritty play clothes. If you notice pet dander or grit in the dryer, use a damp cloth to wipe out the drum.