Worst Case Scenario: The Hidden Dangers to Not Cleaning Your Dryer Vents

One common household task you should never skip is cleaning your dryer vents. Did you know that dirty dryer vents are one of the leading causes of house fires? In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, washers and dryers cause 15,970 fires every year—and dryers cause 92% of those fires.

Not all dryer fires are exactly the same, but at least 31% of them are caused by improper maintenance and cleaning.

It’s so important to clean out the lint trap every time you use your dryer. In addition, experts recommend hiring a professional to come and thoroughly clean your dryer vents at least once a year.

Here’s why.

Dirty, Clogged Dryer Vents = a Perfect Environment for Fires

Dryer vents are a long tube that connects your dryer to the outside. While there are many tools you can use to clean these vents yourself, it’s very easy to poke holes in the vent or damage it in some way. A professional will be able to clean it out thoroughly and efficiently in a short amount of time.

A clean and efficient dryer vent keeps your dryer working. Without it, your dryer would not work. As it becomes dirty, your dryer will take longer and longer to dry your clothes, all while dispensing massive amounts of heat that can warm your home and send your energy bill spiking.

It works like this: as your dryer works, wet clothing is rotated through heated air. The heat evaporates the moisture and vents it out of the dryer through the dryer vent. The moist air cannot be expelled into your home so it is forced outside via the vent. Over time, the vent can pick up dirt, dust, and lint—creating the ideal environment for a house fire.

Lint and dust are highly flammable, and a narrow space full of hot air, restricted air flow, and flammable material means a fire is likely to happen soon.

Tips for Using Your Dryer

Improperly using your dryer can cause it to work less efficiently, drive up your energy bills, and even cause a fire. Here are some general recommendations for proper dryer usage to keep everything working correctly and safely!

Make Sure It’s Properly Installed

Work with an experienced professional to install your dryer. We also recommend having your dryer professionally inspected at least once a year to ensure there are no problems.

Never Overfill a Dryer

Your dryer needs that extra space to properly dry your clothes, and overstuffing it can cause it to malfunction. Additionally, every time you use your dryer you need to clean out the lint trap. Over time, lint can build up and even begin to burn on your trap—causing both a big mess and dangerous dryer conditions.

Be Careful of What Goes Into Your Dryer

Always carefully read your clothing label to ensure that it can be dried that way. If your clothing has been stained with alcohol or flammable liquid, do not put it in the dryer! The heat can cause these liquids to catch fire. Instead, wash them several times to get as much of the liquid out as possible and then hang dry them.

When It’s Time to Get Your Dryer Vents Cleaned

There are a number of different warning signs that let you know it’s time to clean out your vents.

The most telling sign is when it starts to take more than one dry cycle to actually dry your clothes. This signals that something is wrong with the air flow from your dryer vent to the outside. Some other warning signs include:

  • Your clothes are still damp to the touch or unusually hot when the drying cycle ends
  • The dryer is very hot on the outside
  • There’s a burning smell when you dry your clothes
  • It’s been longer than a year since your dryer vents were last inspected or cleaned

The Best Type of Vent to Use

Not all dryer vent ducts are created equally, and some may even be flammable! For example, certain plastic ducts are flammable. One of the most common ducts used is foil ribbed, which can easily trap dust and lint over time.

We recommend using a smooth duct if possible. If you have any questions about the right type of duct to use, don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts. We’re here for all your dryer vent needs in the greater Raleigh area!