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Is Dryer Vent Cleaning Necessary?(Expert Answer)

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Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to fire safety, this phrase can’t be truer. So, is dryer vent cleaning necessary? Absolutely!

Thousands of dryer fires each year start in laundry areas due to lint buildup, with close to 4,000 caused by dryer vent clogs. Those frightening numbers really drive home the importance of dryer vent cleaning.

Let’s dive deeper into how necessary dryer vent cleaning is and when it should be done to keep your home safe from fire hazards.

Signs That Your Dryer Vent Is Clogged

Lint buildup in the dryer.

Nobody wants a surprise visit from the Fire Department in the middle of the night to put out a dryer fire. So, how do you know if your dryer needs to be professionally cleaned? Common signs that your dryer vent is clogged include:

  • Clothes take longer than usual to dry – Have you ever noticed that your laundry takes twice as long to dry or your clothes take multiple cycles to dry? It could very well be a sign of lint buildup clogging the airflow in your vent.
  • Hot dryer or clothes hotter than usual after a cycle – When the vent of your dryer is clogged and blocked, there’s greater heat buildup in the exhaust leading to an uncomfortably hot dryer. 
  • Lint buildup around the dryer – Take a peek behind your machine. Lint buildup around the dryer is a tell-tale sign you should see self-evident and is not normal.
  • Loud squeaking, squealing, or grinding noises coming from your dryer – When your dryer vent is clogged, there’s less air circulation, causing the motor to get hot and reach its limit. Your machine will start making strange noises as it struggles to force air through the blocked pathways.
  • Musty odor – What’s that strange smell? It could be a sign of trapped lint and water moisture in your dryer vent, which can create mold and mildew.
  • Burning smell – No, it’s not from the lasagna you forgot in the oven. A burning smell coming from your dryer could be from a lint fire and needs to be taken care of immediately.

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What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Dryer Vent?

In a nutshell, this is a recipe for disaster. If you’re not taking care of your dryer vent by having it inspected and cleaned once a year (or more if you have pets or frequent guests), then you put yourself at risk of:

Fire Hazard

Dryer vent with lint that is flammable.

Did you know that lint and debris buildup in dryer vents is actually one of the leading causes of house fires? Lint is extremely combustible, gathering quickly around electric motors or gas burners.

If not caught early, fire can spread quickly from the laundry room and throughout your entire home. With over 15,000 house fires resulting from these blocked vents each year, the statistics don’t lie.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The silent killer. We can’t smell carbon monoxide, yet it’s right under our noses. An accumulation in a blocked dryer vent has the potential to leak back into your home through air pathways and cause severe health problems (even death).

Mold and Mildew

That pungent, musty smell could mean more than just trapped lint in the vent – it can also be a sign of large-scale mold and mildew. This will not only replace those fresh scents with polluted air, but the spores can quickly spread through your house and cause serious health problems.

Increased Energy Bills

Today’s energy bills can feel like an ever-rising wave threatening to crush your wallet. If your dryer has to work harder and longer due to poor venting, it’s going to use more energy, thus increasing your monthly costs sky-high. We all like to save money, don’t we?

How Often Does a Dryer Vent Need to Be Cleaned?

We recommend having your dryer vent cleaned at least once a year to eliminate the dangers of lint buildup. However, there are many other variables to consider, too, like:

Usage

Are you doing laundry every day? Then it’s wise to inspect and clean the vent more often than once a year. NFPA recommends cleaning the dryer vent annually or more frequently, depending on the usage.

Whether you have a family of five or live alone, it’s important to pay attention to the lint trap for regular cleaning and always keep an eye open for potential hazards.

Type of dryer and vent

A modern dryer vent and a dryer.

Depending on your machine’s model and the type of material and structure of your dryer vent (metal or flexible?), an annual deep cleaning should suffice.

However, if you’re using extended or complex vent systems such as flexible hoses, elbows, and bends, having it inspected more often is recommended. The same goes for older models with less efficient parts, which will require extra attention to make sure they’re working safely and optimally.

DIY vs. Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

We know you’re fiercely independent and love the challenge of a DIY project – and how much satisfaction it brings when the job is done. Considering the dangers of dryer vents, we don’t recommend tackling this one on your own (we know how it goes: you never realize the absolute horror of a blocked and clogged dryer until it’s too late).

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Tools Required

  • Vacuum or shop-vac to suction the lint out of the inside of the dryer ducts
  • Screwdriver to remove the hose, pipes, and clamps
  • Safety gloves for protection 
  • Flexible brush to sweep the inside of the dryer ducts
  • Power drill (if cleaning a longer dryer vent)
  • Limited edition dryer vent kit 
  • UL-listed metal foil duct tape 

With a bit of TLC and some elbow grease, you can take care of preventive maintenance without having to call in the pros. Here are the steps to get you started:

Step 1. Make sure the dryer is unplugged from the power outlet, and turn off any gas valves if you have a gas-powered model. 

Step 2. Carefully remove the lint filter, vacuum both inside and outside the rear of the machine, and use a long-handled brush to clean all ductwork sections. Additionally, you can use an air compressor to clean the dryer vents thoroughly, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Step 3. Vacuum in and around every component, including behind any stationary elements such as motors, blowers, or pulleys. 

Step 4. Reassemble the dryer and inspect each component to make sure it’s tightly connected and running properly (while checking any possible loose venting). 

Step 5. Run a load of laundry on the air-dry setting to test the system and make sure everything is functioning correctly.

Pros and Cons Of DIY Dryer Vent Cleaning

Needless to say, there are advantages and disadvantages to DIY dryer vent cleaning. The pros include flexibility regarding when it’s done, cost-savings on the labor fee, and satisfaction and cons of DIY cleaning.

Let’s be real – as helpful as it can be, tackling dryer vent cleaning yourself is a time-consuming, potentially dangerous job that requires effort, expertise, and know-how. Here are the pros and cons of DIY cleaning.

Pros:

  • Flexible timing: you can clean it as needed when you want to 
  • Cost savings on the labor fee 
  • Satisfaction of a job well done and chances to learn more about your appliance. 

Cons:

  • Large time commitment for the whole project 
  • Potential danger of working with electricity, gas, or combustible materials 
  • Less efficient cleaning and difficulty reaching all sections of the venting. 

Advantages Of Professional Dryer Cleaning

A technician cleaning the dryer vent.

Suppose you’re not comfortable with the DIY method. In that case, professional dryer vent cleaning companies offer preventive maintenance services at a relatively low cost and guarantee that the job will be done properly.

Professional cleaners are highly trained and certified in their knowledge of dryer vent systems and can inspect and clean virtually any type, model, or length, providing optimal airflow. 

Their advanced tools enable expert technicians to clear blockages from any stage of the system, follow safety procedures, and leave your home fire-safe. In addition, having a professional dryer vent cleaning service means the vent will be inspected for signs of structural damage or corrosion. 

The only real disadvantage is shelling out extra money for a service you can do yourself. But considering the short time it takes and the quality of results, you can rest assured that your vent will be clean and safe again in no time.

How to Choose a Reputable Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Service

We all value quality over quantity. So why should we settle for anything less when it comes to our safety and the safety of our homes? 

A reputable dryer vent cleaning service should offer the whole package: an inspection, professional cleaning, and repair, if necessary, using quality materials and parts. 

But since choosing the right duct cleaning company isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

1. A Track Record Of Satisfied Customers – Check out the company’s website and read reviews from past customers. Research how long they have been in business, too.

2. A Thorough Employee Vetting Process – Find out how well they vet their employees with background checks and drug testing.

3. An Updated And Professional Website – Take a look at the firm website and see how easy it is to find all necessary information like estimates or appointments.

4. Check For Extra Fees – Some companies will advertise lower prices with hidden fees or have them limit the number of cleaned vents. 

5. Request Proof Of Insurance – Reputable companies should have liability insurance to help safeguard against issues that can arise inside customers’ homes, like property damage and legal fees. 

6. Comprehensive HVAC Maintenance Services – Make sure they’re cleaning not only the ducts but also the furnace, a/c, and other parts of your HVAC system to ensure your indoor air quality.

Tips for Maintaining Clean Dryer Vents

While cleaning your dryer vent annually is important, taking care of it between these scheduled cleanings can help prevent any potential lint hazards. Being proactive will save you both time and money in the long run. Here are some tips for ensuring you maintain a clean dryer vent:

Clean Lint Trap Regularly

This should go without saying, but it’s the easiest thing to do when preventing those nasty blockages in your vent. Before every single cycle, take a few seconds to clean your lint trap and remove those extra tiny pieces caught in the mesh.

Don’t Overload the Dryer

Overstuffed closets are not only an issue when finding a cake-worthy outfit. It’s also not great for your dryer as it forces the machine to work twice as hard and blocks the airflow to keep your laundry from drying properly in one cycle.

Keep the Area Around the Dryer Clean and Free of Clutter

Clutter takes up valuable space in your home and increases the risk of fire due to all the combustible material around your machine. Make sure you keep a safety perimeter around it whenever possible.

Inspect the Vent Regularly

Look for any fraying, rips, holes, or tears to avoid material breaking apart and clogging up the inside of the dryer vent. Keep an eye out for damp spots on outside walls, too — these can be signs of water buildup in your dryer vent.

Is Dryer Vent Cleaning Necessary? A Better Home All-Around

Doing laundry is already a chore, so why is dryer vent cleaning necessary too? Aside from preventing a potential disaster, it can also help to create an energy-efficient and cost-effective living space.

Plus, you won’t have to live in fear of your home catching fire because of clogged vents. So, do yourself (and your wallet) a favor and make sure it’s regularly inspected and cleaned by a professional.

Now that’s a breath of fresh air!

FAQ About Dryer Vent Cleaning

Here are the most common frequently asked questions about dryer vent cleaning:

Is dryer vent cleaning worth it? 

Yes! Regular vent cleaning can save lives and money. In addition to eliminating fire hazards, it also helps reduce energy bills, extends the life of your dryer, and promotes clean air quality in your home. 

How long can you go without cleaning the dryer vent? 

It’s never a good idea to go too long without cleaning your dryer vent, regardless of how much you use it. Clogs can form quickly and lead to serious fire dangers if they’re not addressed.

Can dryer vent cleaning damage the dryer? 

Not if it’s done properly. Professional dryer vent cleaners will thoroughly inspect your machine before, during, and after the cleaning. They always use industry-approved methods to ensure all parts remain intact and secure.

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Thomas Green

Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.