Dryer vent maintenance is one of the last things on my very long list of to do’s. While doing laundry this weekend I noticed my dryer vent was not heating up very fast so I went outside to check the vent.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration’s Clothes dryer fire safety outreach materials, 34 percent of the 2900 fires and 5 deaths were caused by lint buildup from not cleaning. One sign of lint buildup is a dryer that takes a long time to dry. I guess it's time to get out some tools and check my vent.
Thankfully my dryer vent is relatively short so it probably won’t require any specialized tools. A long handled brush will do. If you have a longer duct system or long sections of duct that need cleaning you should invest in a duct cleaning brush. Brushes are fairly simple like the Deflecto Dryer Brush. There are a variety of brushes that you can get through your local big box store.
If you’re buying a brush to clean out a flexible duct that has ribs on the inside instead of being smooth, don’t. Throw your duct in the trash and buy new smooth ducting. The ribbed interior catches more lint and thus clogs quicker. Plus, it’s more likely to get kinked when slid back into place.
Use rigid metal instead. Also, forget the screws. They are great at catching lint inside the ducting. After sliding my dryer out and dismantling my duct, here’s what I found.
I used my long handled nylon brush to scrape the lint off the inside of the duct work. You have to scrape the lint with a brush because it is sticks to the inside of the pipe. It won’t fall off. It can’t be vacuumed out. After cleaning my duct I have one more step before putting everything back together.
While the dryer is out and the vent is off I need to use this opportunity to vacuum out the back of my dryer. Get as much lint as you can see.
The last thing to do is cleaning out the dryer vent cover shown in the first picture.
It’s time to put everything back together. Be sure to connect your ducting in the right direction. The first section from your dryer slides into the second. The second section slides into the third, and so forth until you're connected to the dryer vent cover. When sliding your dryer back in place be careful not to damage any duct. When my dryer was originally slid back in place the metal duct was dented. These dents caused severe buildup of lint inside the duct.
After I was all done I turned on my dryer and went outside to check the vent. I could tell immediately that my dryer was pumping out a lot more air.
The U.S. Fire Administration advises cleaning your ducting every three months. When ducting has lint built up inside, your dryer will start to seem like its taking longer to dry your clothes. So, if you notice your dryer is not working well, check for lint. Finally, be sure to clean the lint filter after every load. Cleaning your lint filter is the number one way to keep lint out of your dryer and duct work. A little maintenance can go a long way to prevent common problems.