Clothing dryers have been a major appliance found in homes around the country for more than four decades. Many homeowners depend a great deal on these appliances to help provide a more convenient method for completing the task of drying their clean clothing. Unfortunately many times residential property owners do not address the necessity for properly maintaining the dryer vent attached to these appliance units.
Build-up of debris resulting from clothing lint, nesting birds and other materials accumulate over time in the dryer vent causing problems such as reduced air flow to the dryer, backed up dryer exhaust gases and fire hazards. These problems threaten the safety of the home structure as well as the health and well-being of the residents that occupy the premises.
According to the United States Fire Administration National Fire Data Center, clothes dryers are responsible for approximately 2,900 structure fires around the country each year. Eighty percent of these fires are the result of clogged dryer vents in residential buildings. These fires result in 5 deaths and 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss on average around the United States annually. Thousands of other home occupants are treated for symptoms of poisonous gas fumes that back up into the home due to the blocked dryer vents.
Signs it’s time to clean
While clothing dryer vent build-up presents many dangers to the residential building structure and the occupants of the home, there are ways to prevent many of these hazards from occurring. Homeowners may notice certain signs that signal the dryer vent is being blocked by debris. Signs that a dryer vent may be blocked by debris and need to be cleaned include:
Lint or debris outside the dryer vent opening can be an indication that it’s time to have a vent cleaning performed.
During the process of cleaning the dryer vent the professional will first look for an outside dryer vent cap which can be removed. The technician will insert a long vacuum tube and snake brush into the ventilation pipe. The vacuum will be used to eradicate any loose debris within the venting pipe causing blockage.
More solid masses of debris that may be attached to the walls of the ventilation pipe will be scrapped away with the snake brush and then vacuumed out. Technicians will take special care in the elbows and bends throughout the dryer venting pipe as these are problematic areas that can quickly build up with lint and other debris. Ventilation pipes typically range from five feet to forty feet in length depending on where the appliance is located and an outside venting site is installed.
Premium dryer vent cleaning services also provide homeowners with diagnostic testing following the cleaning services. These tests provide results for the amount of pressure which is sent through the vent, the amount of gases that may escape into the home and any unwanted gaps within the ventilation pipe itself. Costs for the clothing dryer ventilation cleaning services will be varied based on the company, the specific length of the dryer venting system, the time required for proper cleaning and various cleaning packages selected.
Tips to decrease debris
It is recommended by the United States Fire Administration that homeowners have their residential dryer vents cleaned at least once a year so that excessive debris does not build up within the ventilation pipes causing risks such as residential structural fires, gas leaks into the home and large energy usage for operating the dryer. For homes that utilize the dryer more than two times within a week regularly throughout the year the cleaning services sought should be increased accordingly. There are some ways that homeowners can decrease the amount of debris build up within the dryer ventilation in between these cleaning services. Here are some tips that can be practiced within the home to do this.
Consider Professional Cleaning
Though your dryer vent is relatively short, it is still best to have it cleaned professionally and then set up a schedule for regular cleaning, probably every year or so depending on what your company representative advises based on your laundry habits.
If you forego professional help, make sure you get to the vent that connects from the back of your dryer to the window outlet as well as inside the dryer. Always unplug the dryer from the wall outlet before doing any work. Depending on the type of dryer you have, it should be fairly easy to open the access panel to clean around the machine components themselves. Removal of this buildup is easier with some machines than others. One advantage to having an experienced, qualified and reliable professional clean your system is that he or she has likely seen just about every make and model and will likely be able to clean the interior components more efficiently than you will. Plus, you’ll have the assurance that the job was done correctly and safely.