Why You Need to Have Your Dryer Vent Cleaned

Let’s focus on why cleaning our dryer vents is necessary. There has been a steady increase in the occurrence of dryer fires over the last decade according to the .U.S. Department of Homeland Security and US Fire Administration.  A bit of history is required to see why this is occurring. Since approximately the 1980’s architects have started designing our homes differently looking at our “modern” busy family and putting the laundry rooms inside our homes away from exterior walls. This move was seen as a convenient way for families to do laundry with the washer and dryer located inside the home where the dirty clothes are. However, this moved while convent created a fire hazard that was not indented. With the moved of the dryer inside of the house and needing to be vented to the exterior of the home long runs for the dryer vents were required.

The long dryer vent runs created several problems that were not really thought through. First is the obvious reason and why your reading this article, the build up of dryer lint. Pull the lint screen from your clothes dryer and seen how small the holes actually are you might get an idea of how this stuff can build up quickly. When we dry our clothes small fibers come off of them and flow through the dryer of which some are caught on the lint screen. However, the lint screen only catches approximately 40% to 60% of the lint leaving the rest to flow out of the dryer into the vent system. These tiny particles of fiber start drying out as soon as they leave our clothes and once dry float on the air system until they are either blow out of the house or land somewhere inside of the vent usually bonding with more lint. With the hot moist air from the dryer the lint starts to gather at certain places inside the vent and build up forming restrictions on the air flow. Any restriction or reduction in the airflow causes more lint to start gathering inside of the vent. So you can see the pattern of lint building up over time.

As we discussed the air flow restrictions caused by the build up of lint is how the vent gets clogged. As this happens our dryers start to work harder to get the clothes dry. We notice this as the drying times gradually increase until we get used to running the dryer continuously just to get our laundry dry. Finally with the dryer overheating there are one of two outcomes. The dryer fails and needs to be repaired (see below for more information) or the lint gets ignited. The latter of the two outcomes is the most feared, by myself and most homeowners.

Cleaning our dryer vents is necessary and should be done on a yearly basis. I know many customers and myself wondered that if the dryer vent had not been cleaned for many years why should it be done now on a yearly basis? The answer is the vent itself which starts to rust over time. The rust inside the vent gathers lint more quickly than a new vent would. I am always surprised at just how much lint I removed from my own vent each year. The benefits (see below) of having an annual cleaning far outweigh the cost from a professional dryer vent cleaning company.

How to Pick the Right Company

When doing a Google search of dryer vent cleaning we find many “companies” offering this service.  Along with quite a range of pricing and types of methods.  However this article is looking at the businesses themselves and not the type of cleaning.

Fast forward to today and I still get phone calls weekly of someone who fell for the coupon, groupon, or got tricked by a company that was not what they bragged about on the internet.  Over the years I have put together a list of questions and things people could do very simply in order to protect themselves.
Do not go by price alone.  When calling around for pricing ensure that you ask about warranties and if the technicians are background checked and CLEAR of felonies.  It’s okay for the company to know who they are sending and saying their background checked but who knows the results?  Secondly ensure their warranty is posted publicly and what is their return call policy?  Few are like us where we have no hidden charges nor agenda.
Been around for years?  We see companies every day that spring up saying they’ve been cleaning dryer vents for years.  However, their web site is new and there are very few online reviews?  We been in business a little over four years and are very proud of our work check us out.
Affiliated to a public service company.  Sites that claim by association to be part of a public service company aren’t.  Most fire departments, police departments, and the like have a “conflict of Interest” policy disallowing this type of behavior.  Ask yourself how many “police department security” companies do you see around?  If in doubt call the agency referenced and see if there is an affiliation.
Insured and Bonded?  When you see these two words used to verify a business run it means they are not either usually in our industry.  Insurance should be carried with a minimum of $1 million in liability.  A Bond is put up with the state for regulated industries, our is not one of them so there is no such thing as a bond.  Ask to see their Insurance binder if you suspect it is needed.
Finally use your head.  If it is too good to be true then it is what it is.  Call us should you ever have any questions.

The Benefits of a Clean Dryer Vent

Cleaning our dryer vents is a home maintenance task that many of us are not really aware of, but is necessary to protect our homes and families. Let’s look at some of the main benefits of regularly getting the dryer vent cleaned.

Preventing the number one cause of household fires: As mentioned in the previous article dryer fires are on the rise and should be addressed by homeowners. The removal of lint and a properly vent clothes dryer can remove this threat to our families and homes.

Reducing our energy bills: Clothes dryers are energy hogs second to our water heater inside of the homes. As our clothes start taking longer to dry due to the build up of lint or a restriction in the vent line the dryer starts working harder to get the clothes dry. We get gradually used to running the dryer two to three times as long as it should.

Reduced drying times: A full load of washing should only take 50 minutes to dry. Usually most should dry in about 30 minutes, but each vent, dryer, and home are different so drying times do vary. However, after having your dryer vent cleaned you should notice a drastic reduction in your drying time. You won’t be wasting hours waiting on the clothes to dry. Depending on the washing cycle you use most customers find that the clothes are dry before the next load of washing is completed.

Reduced maintenance calls: Once the dryer vent is cleaned and the dryer can “breath” again it works quicker and more efficiently. One of the main causes of breakdown is overheating which damages many of the sensors on new dryers and causes every dryer to wear down quickly. Dryer belts, heating coils, sensors, and the other components of your dryer are not made to run continuously.

Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning: Gas clothes dryers are great and dry our clothes quickly and saves money buy using natural gas. However, like our water heaters they will emit CO into the home if not properly vented. Properly vented does not just mean to ensure your dryer vent is cleaned but also the dryer hose should be inspected. We recommend only metal dryer hoses also called transitions vents for every dryer. While some foil hoses are UL listed from the tests we have seen only a heavy steel vent should be used to vent the dryer to the wall of the home. Besides allowing for proper air flow when correctly fitted the metal vent is there to protect your home. Another safety aspect we suggest is the fitting of a combination CO/Fire alarm in the laundry room as well as ensuring a well charged fire extinguisher is available.

Preventing water damage: You might wonder why there is water on the floor behind the dryer or you see damage in the ceiling. Sometimes water is actually dripping through the ceiling causing further damage to the home. This happens when the dryer vent is clogged or very restricted and the moisture from the dryer cannot escape. The dryer vent is designed to carry “air” and water will start pooling at any low spots and seeping through the seams of the vent. The water damage usually goes unnoticed for some time until the ceiling is saturated and must be replaced or at least repainted.

I hope these benefits and their cause help you in recognizing the need of having your dryer vent cleaned on a annual basis. If in doubt let us check it out and give us a call our inspections are free.