A clothes dryer needs a little ongoing maintenance to keep it in safe and in proper working condition.
How does a clothes dryer work?
The way a clothes dryer works is pretty simple, it spins clothes around in hot air while an exhaust vent sends damp air outside. An exhaust tube connects to the back of your clothes dryer and then to a duct in the wall that leads somewhere outside, so all the hot, moist air coming out of the dryer ends up outside. As your heated clothes tumble in the hot air, lint comes off the fabric and most of it gets caught in the lint trap as the exhaust air passes through it. The lint trap is usually accessed either inside the dryer door or on top of the dryer and it usually looks like a plastic or wire screen. Whatever gets past the lint trap goes out the exhaust vent and duct and either clings to the sides of the tube or blows out the exhaust vent outside.
Clothes dryers blow exhaust air out through ducts, the shorter the ductwork the better. The total recommended length is less than 25 feet from the back of your dryer to the outside vent cover, that’s with a straight running exhaust duct. If you have bends and turns, it should be an even shorter distance. The more turns and the further the distance, the harder your dryer must work to move exhaust air and loose lint. The harder your clothes dryer works and the longer it runs, the sooner it will wear out and have to be replaced or repaired dryer duct cleaning.
If your clothes dryer has clogged vents and ducts, there are usually a few signs you’ll see:
• Loads of clothing will take longer to dry.
• Clothing will be very hot and still damp when the dryer finishes.
• The clothes dryer itself will feel hotter.
A lint-clogged clothes dryer can often consume 15 – 25 dollars worth of extra electricity every month trying to dry your clothes, so it makes good sense to keep your dryer vent and it’s ductwork clean.
So what kind of maintenance do you need to do for your clothes dryer?
Lint tends to build up in 3 areas:
1. Inside the lint trap.
2. Inside the flexible duct hose behind the dryer.
3. Inside the in-wall duct work, leading to the outside vent flap.
Step one is to clean the lint trap after every load of laundry. How do you clean the lint trap? You pull out the lint trap and scrape out the lint with your fingers or bang it over the trash can to clear it out, and then replace it. When you pull out the lint trap, look around inside the dryer in the pocket where it sat, if you see more loose lint there, take it out (you can use your hand, a brush, or your vacuum). By doing this simple cleaning regularly, you will avoid 90% of clothes dryer vent problems.
Step two, once a year (or more if you suspect a problem) you should unplug your dryer and pull it out from the wall, then disconnect the exhaust tube from the dryer and the wall and clean it out with a vacuum. That cleans out area #2. Area #3 is the in-wall ductwork that leads to the outside. Clean out this area using a vacuum or blower (a leaf blower with a towel wrapped around the vent opening, to create a seal works great) along with a dryer brush or auger, put everything back together and in place, and you’re done.