Through regular use, lint and other debris will eventually restrict airflow to and from your clothes dryer. This can impede the dryer's performance and post a serious fire hazard. Simple cleaning of the dryer's vent hose is all that's needed.
Summer equals laundry, and lots of it. So it's the perfect time to clean your dryer vent of any lint and other debris that accumulates year-round. Plus, during chilly weather – which often coincides with mating seasons – birds are attracted to a dryer vent's warmth and safety (nests in upper-floor vents are more common than on ground-levels). By summer, most of our feathered friends will have stopped breeding, and flown the coop.
If your dryer fails to heat up, leaves brown or orange marks on clothing, or takes longer than normal (over 45 minutes) to dry clothes, this means it's not running at maximum efficiency (the motor is working much too hard) and that It's posing a very serious fire hazard
. (When the motor works overtime, it can overheat and ignite wads of trapped lint.)
But even if your dryer is operating smoothly, you'll still need to clear blockage once or twice a year – or more, if something seems amiss.
Follow these steps to properly clean your dryer vent and have it running safely and smoothly:
1. Unplug the dryer.
To locate the outlet, pull the unit about two feet away from the wall.
2. Disconnect the hose.
Unscrew and loosen the clamp that connects the flexible pipe to the elbow-shaped joint (usually made of aluminum). Slide off the pipe and detach the elbow. Clear out any lint with a vacuum cleaner's crevice tool.
3. Shine a light inside the internal dryer ven
t; This is the opening that's attached to the dryer itself). See a sock? Eighty-six it – and anything else that's stuck in there.
4. Vacuum out the dryer vent, the flexible hose, the back of the dryer, the floor and the surrounding areas
with the crevice tool.
5. Scrub the back of the dryer, the floor and the wall
with a mild soap-and-water solution and let dry. Detergents and fabric softeners can form a layer of buildup that attracts lint.
6. Reattach the hose and elbow to the dryer vent.
Slide the hose over the elbow, tighten the clamp with your screwdriver and fit the elbow back onto the dryer vent.
7. Remove the vent leading outside.
One person's venting system is likely different from the next, so whether yours goes under a floor and/or through walls, you'll need to (again) unscrew clamps, remove the hose from the exterior vent and detach sections of duct. If your vent is really long, with several bends, invest in a brush that's specifically designed to snake through long tubing. Once you've pulled everything apart to remove the lint, try vacuuming the individual sections, too.
8. Disconnect the exterior vent.
It's attached to the house in a variety of ways: It could be nailed in, screwed in, caulked or all of the above. Use a razor knife to remove caulk and either a hammer or screwdriver to finish the job. Gently pull it away from the house.
9. Vacuum inside the exterior vent and under the vent hood.
Then, reattach the vent to the house.
10. Go indoors and fit the flexible hose back onto the exterior vent pipe.
Then retighten the clamp.
11. Reattach all sections of duct and re-tighten all other clamps.
Be sure everything is tightly fastened and that the duct isn't kinked.
12. Plug in the dryer.
Push it back against the wall.
Your clothes dryer should now be in the clear!