Dryer Vent Cleaning: How your Clothes Dryer Tells you it’s time to Clean Dryer Vents

Dryer vent cleaning is recommended annually to ensure your dryer is working safely and efficiently. If you neglect to do this necessary maintenance, your dryer will certainly let you know that it is time to clean the dryer vent system. The best way to promote maximum dryer performance is to properly maintain the dryer vent system and pay attention to warning signs. The warning signs indicate that your dryer is over-working, causing you to use more energy. These signs are also a warning of a serious fire hazard. Rarely, does it mean you need a new dryer! Clean the dryer vent system and the dryer will work as well as it did when it was brand new!

The most common warning sign is when the dryer takes 2 or more cycles to completely dry your laundry. Here are some other warning signs to look for:

Clothes have a musty or mildew smell after you have run them through their cycle – This can tell you that while the dryer is trying to work, the moisture is not able to escape. This is a warning sign of a clog in the line or the blower is not working properly. Restricted air flow causes the dryer to work harder, eventually overheating and causing a fire. In the mean time, you are likely spending up to $300 per year in extra energy usage.

Dryer repeatedly shuts off during a cycle - While you won't always have a perfectly dry load of laundry from one drying cycle, the dryer should at least finish the cycle. If it doesn't you could be dealing with a larger problem such as an element getting too hot in the dryer and causing it to overheat and ultimately shut down. In most cases, the overheating is caused by lint build-up in the dryer vent system.

A lot of lint coming through the back of the dryer – The lint screen traps about 60% of lint from your laundry. The rest can escape into the back of the dryer and the dryer duct leading to the vent outdoors. If you notice a lot of lint on the floor behind the dryer, you likely have quite a bit of lint inside the dryer as well. When lint accumulates around the motor, heating element and the drum, it can cause mechanical problems as well as become a fire hazard.

Some lint on the dryer vent cover – If you are keeping an eye on how things are going in your dryer, another place to watch is outside. What things look like where the vent duct terminates outside your house can tell you a lot about the health of your dryer. If there is lint on this vent cover, it's telling you there is a lot of lint inside the line. This could mean there is lint clogging up various areas of your dryer as well. This will cause your dryer to run less efficiently, and eventually pose a fire threat as any spark in the line could set the whole thing ablaze.

Not a lot of lint in the lint trap – After a few uses of your dryer you should have a pretty good idea how much lint comes off each load of clothes you put through the system. If you start noticing considerably less lint in the trap this is warning. It's not likely that your clothes are suddenly sending off less lint, but rather the lint is going somewhere else, inside the dryer. This can become very dangerous and needs to be stopped. It's time to call in a professional to take the system apart and figure out what is going wrong.

There are plenty of warning signs that things are starting to go wrong with your clothes dryer. All too often, people ignore these signs until the dryer breaks down or causes a fire.

Be safe, save energy, extend the life of your clothes dryer...have a professional inspect and clean your dryer vent system at least once a year.

Horatio Chiorean has over 10 years experience in the appliance industry as a research engineer for a major appliance company. He purchased his Dryer Vent Wizard Franchise because of the great need for increasing consumer awareness on the importance of dryer vent cleaning and proper dryer vent installation.