Of all of the more neglected places in our homes, few are as overlooked as our dryer vent. But, the dryer vent is also one of the most potentially hazardous areas in our home, and a surprisingly common culprit behind house fires. While you can always hire a professional to come clean out your vent, if you’re more of the DIY type, there are methods you can do relatively easily to keep it nice and clear on a regular basis.
Why’s It So Important?
A dryer vent inevitably collects lint and other forms of debris over time, and the more often you use your dryer, the more likely it is to have a good deal of residue. A clogged dryer vent is absolutely a fire hazard, due to the flammability of lint mixed with dry heat, but besides that, if it’s clogged, your dryer simply won’t be able to do its job properly. In addition, a dirty dryer vent has buildup that can make its way onto your clothes while they’re drying.
How to Clean Your Dryer Vent
First off, we want to mention that there are products you can buy that will make it easier to maintain your dryer vent. One is a dryer vent alarm, which informs you when there’s too much buildup of lint and other types of debris which can potentially become dangerous. There are also dryer vent brushes and other types of accessories that easily remove lint buildup, so you don’t have to use as much elbow grease.
Also, on a very related note, you should always remove all lint from the cavity of your lint trap, which sits in front of the door and collects lint with each load. Remove the lint fully each time you take your load out of the dryer, and then check it before you do a new load in case you forgot last time. NEVER do a load of laundry without the screen in there, or else lint will be going directly into the vent, which’s a serious fire hazard.
Now, let’s move onto the process of cleaning the actual vent.
Step #1: Unplug your dryer. If you have a gas dryer, turn off the gas valve. Be extremely careful if there’s a nearby gas or water line. If you’re not experienced with turning off a gas valve, please find someone who is just to be safe.
Step #2: Move the dryer away from the wall carefully to avoid damaging any potential nearby lines. Move it away as much as it can be removed, rather than forcing it.
Step #3: Unscrew the vent clamp on the back of the dryer, sliding the vent out of its joint. Use a vacuum to remove dust and debris, and a dryer vent brush if necessary.
Step #4: Close the vent back up and vacuum any debris on the floor. Move the dryer back into its original position and reattach it as needed.
Step #5: Now, it’s time to clean the outside part of the vent. Find the vent cover on the outside of your home and remove it. Now, use your vacuum and/or dryer vent brush to remove any and all lint from inside. Reattach the cover to the vent.
Step #6: Now, go inside and run your dryer for a few minutes to make sure that it’s working properly, and that there are no obstructions.
You should clean the vent every 6 months as a general rule. But, if you live in a busy household or do a lot of loads of laundry compared to the average person, consider 4 months. Again, if you’ve a more complicated gas setup, we strongly recommend hiring a professional.