The humble dryer is one of the most popular and useful gadgets in the home, and yet without proper maintenance, it can be a threat to your safety. The biggest issue is that our clothes produce lint, and over time this lint will slowly build up in your dryer vent lines. Left unchecked, this can cause a serious fire risk. And while cleaning your dryer vents seems like a simple job, you will find out quickly that without the right tools, things can get tricky, which is of course why we would encourage you to call us for a free quote from the best dryer vent cleaning service in Portland.
Regardless of what you choose, we hope this breakdown of the why and the how of cleaning your dryer vents is helpful.
What is Lint?
It often amazes people just how much lint comes off their clothing when they use a dryer. But what exactly is lint? Lint is made up of tiny fibers which come away from the edge of your clothing. Every time you wear a piece of clothing, minuscule pieces of fiber break off, but through the force of static electricity (and for numerous other reasons), they stick to the outside of the garment. When you use your dryer, the moisture removes the dirt and loose fibers from your clothing, which is then deposited in your dryer and its vent. This lint builds up in the dryer and dryer vent over time unless cleaned.
Why is Lint Dangerous?
The biggest issue with lint is that it restricts the airflow of your dryer which in turn causes a buildup of hot air, which (besides reducing the efficiency of your dryer) creates a fire hazard. Of course, lint is extremely dry, and the smallest spark can cause a big fire.
Between 2010 and 2014, US fire departments responded to over 15,000 home fires involving clothes dryers. Of those fires, 27% were a result of dust, fiber, or lint.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, produced a report in which it determined that of 15,000 fires studied in one year, electric dryers were over two times as likely as gas dryers to be the cause of fire.
Easy Steps to Clean Your Dryer and Eliminate Lint Buildup
The first thing to do is locate your dryer’s lint trap, which is normally at the front of the machine. Remove the trap and scrape away any lint. Of course, this is the same process that should be repeated each time you put in a new load of laundry to dry. For a more complete clean, you would then use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any lint which has become trapped down the side of the filter. This can be tricky to do without the equipment that a professional dryer vent cleaning service provides. Once all of the lint has been removed, replace the lint trap.
Clean the Dryer Exhaust Piping
The exhaust piping is normally found at the back of the dryer. Push your dryer away from the wall, and locate the (usually) aluminium tube which runs from the dryer to the wall. Metal ring clamps are normally how dryer vents are secured. Use the appropriate tool to loosen the clamps, and pull the piping away from the wall and the dryer. Holding the tube upright, slide a dryer vent duct brush down the piping. If you do not have a duct brush (the tool used by a dryer vent cleaning service), you will either have to buy one or improvise. A good tip is to slowly rotate the brush as you are removing it. Be careful to avoid puncturing the side of the piping. You will probably need to repeat this procedure a few times to capture and remove all of the lint. For any particles the brush misses, a vacuum cleaner is the answer.
It is also important to check your home’s exterior vent, as sometimes lint will accumulate there. Ensure that exterior vent is not being blocked. Your aluminum piping may not connect directly to an exterior vent, as in the case of a laundry room which is in the middle of the house. In this case, you may have another, longer tube to clean out. But if this is the case for you, it is even more important that you keep all of your dryer vent piping clean, as buildup of lint is going to have a greater effect on dryer performance and could increase the risk for fire. Once you have completed the process it is time to reconnect the vent, then turn on your dryer for about 10 to 15 minutes. The reason for this is to push out any excess lint which may be in the tubing or stuck in the outer vent.
In all this, being thorough is key. We want to remove any old, dry material that may be liable to cause fire. If you are not confident in your ability to do the job completely, we encourage you to contact our friendly customer service team, who will be happy to arrange an appointment for one of our technicians to complete the task for you. The cost to get your dryer vent cleaned is very reasonable. You could decide to do the job yourself, but without using the proper equipment there is a chance you could make the situation worse.