The Importance of Cleaning Your Dryer Vent
Let’s be honest, we seldom give much thought to our appliances unless there’s a problem. We plug them in, turn them on, fill them up, and fuss if they don’t properly work. Cleaning out your refrigerator can be a thankless task, but when it comes to our dishwasher, washing machine, or clothes dryer don’t we kind of expect these cleaning machines to clean themselves. Sadly, this isn't the case.
Clothes dryers are often overlooked because they don't appear to be dirty. Afterall we put clean clothes in them, right? Yet, there can be a hidden build-up of lint, fluff, and dirt in your dryer and its vent.
Now, you might turn around and ask “…but isn't that what the lint catcher is for?” You're right, there is a special screen in your dryer that is supposed to catch all that stuff and make it easier to clean. However, it doesn't catch everything. Small particles of fluff and debris can still pass through into the dryer vent. Over time, this accumulates and cause issues and even be hazardous.
Effective Dryer Vent Cleaning Will:
Improve Dryer Effectiveness & Save Money
Prolong Dryer’s Life Span
Improve Dryer Effectiveness & Save Money - If your dryer vent gets too dirty and clogged up, it limits the airflow out of the machine. This means that the dryer has to either work harder or work longer to dry clothes. You could return to a load of laundry that is still damp and developing an odor. This could mean another drying cycle or even another washing cycle. If you do find yourself running the laundry through a second cycle, this will increase your running costs in the long run. This is no good for anyone trying to save on their energy bills and reduce their electricity use. However, you might notice that your energy use has increased with just one cycle.
Prolong Dryer’s Life Span - If it works too hard and overheats that can create multiple risk of malfunction or complete failure. Longer drying times or extra cycles puts the dryer through extra work. The life of appliances is measured in running time or in the case of your dryer cycles. A dryer still in the box is still new even after sitting unused for a couple of years. The more you use it, the more cycles it goes through the shorter it may be effective or even last. Check out this article (The Life Expectancy of 7 Major Appliances) for estimates of the life expectancy of appliances.
Prevent Fires - Finally, these issues above can contribute to the most alarming risk. Dryer vent fires can occur through improper maintenance of vents. Lint build-ups have three significant risk factors. They can cause increased heat around the back of the machine as the machine works harder. They can cause fires through mechanical failures as parts overheat and blow a circuit. Then there is the risk of static energy from all those particles. This could spark and create a fire.
Facts About Home Clothes Dryer Fires:
2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year.
Causing an estimated $35 million in property loss, 100 injuries, and 5 deaths annually.
Failure to clean the dryer and or dryer vent is the leading cause, 34% of home clothes dryer fires.
More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends regular (Annual) dryer vent cleaning because of the number of incidents recorded. (U.S. Fire Administration Link)
The combination of increased costs, poor effectiveness, and risk of dryer vent fires means we all need to reconsider cleaning our clothes dryer and its vents. Regular professional cleaning will prove to be worthwhile and a cost savings in the long run.