Dryer vent cleaning is a service that I offer along with my professional air duct and carpet cleaning business. A great number of people I talk to have never put very much thought into how dangerous their clothes dryer can be.
Every year many deaths and injuries are caused due to clothes dryer fires. It is estimated that over 15,000 of these fires take place every year because of neglect.
A clothes dryer is a heating appliance and should be treated as one. With any household heating appliance certain precautions should be taken to ensure as much safety as possible.
There are four main concerns dealing with a dryer: fire hazard, excessive energy costs, mold development and carbon monoxide seepage (from gas operated dryers).
To reduce chances of clothes dryer fires and other hazards, it is recommended that your dryer is serviced and the dryer vent cleaned at least once or twice every year depending on the amount of usage.
As the dryer is used, moisture is released and vented outside through a venting system. Small amounts of lint will pass through the main lint trap and will stick to the moist inside walls of the dryer exhaust system and venting tube. Over time this lint will slowly start to build causing air flow restrictions. As this airflow is restricted, the dryer will have to run longer and longer each time. Longer run times mean higher utility costs and increased risk of fire. If the dryer is gas operated, it could also increase the chances of carbon monoxide leaking into your house.
Mold is also a concern with clogged dryer vents. Moisture being released from drying clothes will not be able to escape and will start to puddle at the lowest points of the exhaust system or venting tube. If this continues, the water will start to leak into walls and crawl spaces which create perfect mold growing conditions.
What to do:
- Do clean the lint trap before every use.
- Do have your dryer and vent inspected and cleaned at least once every year.
- Do inspect the outside end of the venting tube for any signs of lint build up or animal nests every month.
- Do use a metal or foil connector from the dryer to the wall.
- Do install a fire detector and carbon monoxide detector next to the dryer.
What not to do:
- Do not run the dryer at night while you are sleeping or away from the house.
- Do not over load the dryer.
- Do not use plastic connectors from the dryer to the wall.
- Do not crimp the vent connector between the dryer and the wall.
- Do not dry material that contains flammable substances such as grease, gasoline, oil, mineral spirits, etc.
- Do not vent directly into crawl spaces, attics, or garages. Some think this is a good way to use the excess heat from the dryer but, it will only aid in dangerous mold development.