With the holidays approaching, you’re probably busy getting your home ready to entertain friends and family. In addition to cooking, cleaning, and shopping, there’s one more important task to add to your holiday to-do list: Dryer Vent Cleaning.
While there are a lot of great reasons to complete this often-overlooked maintenance item, we’re going to list the top 5 for you, starting with the most important:
While many of us look forward to the cooler fall and winter temperatures here in Gainesville, it’s important to remember that this time of year is also peak season for home fires caused by dirty dryer vents.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration:
- 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year, causing an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
- Failure to clean the dryer 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.
Why is there an increased risk of dryer fires in the fall and winter? The answer is lint.
Lint is composed of tiny bits of fabric fibers that are shed from the edges of our garments. Fabrics made of natural fibers like cotton and wool generate more lint than fabrics made of rayon or other synthetic materials. As outside temperatures drop, more of us turn to thicker clothing and bedding to keep us warm. The thicker the fabric, the more lint it produces when it is washed.
When we put our clothes into the wash, the friction of the wash lifts more lint from the cloth where it is deposited on top of the wet garment. When we put that item in the dryer, the water is removed and more lint is created from the friction of the tumbling. Then hot air blows onto the garment, blowing the lint off the garment and trapping it in the lint screen.
Not all of the lint is trapped, however. In some estimates, the lint trap only captures about 25% of the lint produced in a drying cycle. The majority of the lint produced in a load of laundry ends up in your dryer’s vent as well as underneath and around your dryer. The heat from your dryer is more than sufficient to ignite this material. In fact, dryer lint is so flammable, it is often recommended as a fire-starter by camping enthusiasts!
Once a fire has started in your dryer, it can quickly spread to the rest of your home as this video demonstrates.
Even if the fire is contained, however, it could short out your electrical system causing expensive electrical repairs and smoke damage. And you’d need a new dryer!
How do you know if it’s time for you to call a licensed professional to clean your dryer vent so you can reduce this risk?
- It’s been more than a year since your last dryer vent cleaning. (If you use your dryer daily, you should aim to have it cleaned 2-3 times per year.)
- Your clothes are taking longer to dry.
- The air temperature in your laundry area is hotter than usual.
- Your utility bill is rising. (If your laundry room is hotter, this will make your air conditioner work harder.)
- Your clothes have a musty or burnt odor.
- You see buildup accumulating in the dryer vent.
Safety is obviously the biggest reason for having your dryer duct cleaned but dryer vent cleaning also provides the following benefits:
2) Increased Efficiency
If your dryer vent is clogged with lint, your dryer will have to run longer and work longer to dry your clothes. If a load of clothes now takes 2 or 3 cycles to dry, it’s not only using more energy to do the job but it’s also putting a lot of additional heat into your laundry area which is making your air conditioner have to work harder too. Rising utility bills are one sign that it’s time to have your dryer duct cleaned.
3) Longer Life Span of Clothes Dryer
Once a dryer stops working properly because of a buildup of lint in the dryer vent, many owners mistakenly think the dryer needs to be replaced. In reality, a thorough cleaning may be all that’s needed to bring your dryer back to life. If left unchecked, lint buildup can make your dryer work harder and run more cycles than it would normally need in order to dry a load of clothes. That causes unnecessary wear and tear on your dryer’s components and makes it wear out faster.
4) Elimination of Irritating Allergens and Mold
The role of your dryer is to eliminate all traces of moisture from your clothing. When your dryer vent is clogged, the lingering damp lint trapped inside the vent creates the perfect home for irritating allergens and mold to grow. To make matters worse, the excess humidity lingering in the laundry room as the wet clothes sit can make walls damp and moldy.
5) Reduced Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If you have a gas dryer, your dryer vent is responsible for removing dangerous exhaust dryer fumes like carbon monoxide. When the dryer vent is clogged, these colorless, odorless fumes can leach into your home and make your family very sick.
Cleaning My Dryer Vent Makes a Lot of Sense, But Can’t I Just Do it Myself?
According to Angie’s List, homeowners who attempt to clean their own dryer vents using a kit or attachment often think that they’ve eliminated any fire risk. Unfortunately, most of these tools do not remove all of the lint in the duct. Even worse, they can compact the link, creating a dangerous blockage. If you have old dryer duct tubing, the bristle brushes on many of these tools can also be damaging.
At Gator Air & Energy, our service technicians are trained to gently and thoroughly inspect and clean your dryer vents to improve your dryer’s efficiency and ensure your family’s safety and peace of mind. Give us a call today to schedule that overdue inspection and cleaning!