Have your vents cleaned by a professional.

19 May, 2020

Standard Dryer Vent Cleaning & Safety Precautions

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that 2,900 dryer fires occur each year, causing an estimated $35 million in property damages, 5 deaths, and 100 injuries. It also reports that 34% of these fires are due to a failure to clean the dryer. These figures indicate how lint buildup and improper installation of your dryer vent systems can create a serious hazard. 

Most people don’t even know their dryer vents need to be cleaned. They clean out their dryer vent filter now and then, and think that’s all that's needed. But the standard dryer vent duct is where lint can really accumulate and get clogged. This lint is highly flammable and is responsible for dryer vent fires.

Types of Dryer Vents

A standard dryer vent comes in the following main types:

  • Aluminum Foil Duct: These ducts are made of flexible aluminum foil, connecting from the appliance to the main duct that runs to the outdoors. A foil duct is held in place with dryer clamps, large hose clamps, or metal tape.
  • Semi-Rigid Metal Duct: This type of duct is flexible and is used only for transition ducting. It should not be concealed in walls or floors. A semi-rigid metal duct is typically installed with clamps.
  • Slim Duct: It is a telescoping rigid aluminum duct designed for transition ducting in tight spaces. A slim duct is also adaptable to vertical, horizontal, and diagonal installations.
  • Rigid Metal Duct: It is the only suitable duct material for concealed duct installations. As it cannot be bent, you should assemble it with elbow fittings that allow the duct to turn 45 or 90 degrees, depending on the type of elbow.
  • Plastic or Vinyl Duct: It’s a flexible duct that has a thin plastic wall rather than metal foil. Even though it’s quite popular, most building codes do not allow this type of duct because their ribbed interior easily catches lint.

Dryer Vents & Filters

Dryer models differ, but they all work in basically the same way. When you switch on the dryer, its drum starts spinning while a blower circulates air past the heating element and into the drum. The air then departs through the filter into the exhaust port at the bottom of the dryer. From there, it goes into the vent and eventually flows through the vent opening in the side of your home.

If the filter wasn't present, the lint would quickly accumulate in the vents and block them. Thus, the lint filter plays a critical role. However, a filter doesn't catch everything, and some amount of lint still finds its way into the vent. The filter fills up fairly quickly, and after you dry a full load, it is quite common to find an inch or so of accumulation.

If you don't get rid of this accumulation, it restricts the flow of air through the dryer, and warm, moist air builds up in the tumbler. Clothes take longer to dry, and the temperature can get high enough to set the lint on fire. Nobody wants that, so dryer filter cleaning after every use is essential.

Dryer Vent Safety Precautions

Here are four important standard dryer vent safety precautions to reduce risk.

  1. Clean lint traps and dryer vents regularly. You can easily clean the lint traps on your own after every load. Dryer vent cleaning should be done at least once a year using a dryer pipe cleaner.
  2. Schedule professional dryer inspections. You may be able to clean the dryer vent on your own. But for more convenience, safety, and thoroughness, you might want to hire someone to clean the dryer vent. A professional can clean all of your ducts at once, ensuring that not only your dryer, but also your HVAC air ducts are clean and safe for continued operation. Plus, they can also help in replacing dryer duct work.
  3. Know your codes. Whoever installs your dryer should be well aware of fire safety codes and adhere to them. However, these codes can be useful for you to know as well. You might want to check to make sure that your vent is at least four inches in diameter, the vent is as large as the dryer outlet, the exhaust duct is no longer than 25 feet, the dryer exhaust vents to the outdoors, and the fittings are secure so exhaust doesn’t seep back in.
  4. Don't leave home with the dryer running. You wouldn’t leave the oven or the iron on when you’re not at home, right? The same goes for the dryer. So make sure you turn the dryer off before leaving.

Professional Dryer Vent Maintenance & Cleaning

Cleaning dryer vents effectively requires knowledge and the right tools. A professional dryer vent specialist will inspect the system to determine the severity of the lint build up. Using high-pressure air and vacuum, your local dryer vent cleaners will clean the entire length of your dryer duct. 

Keeping your dryer vents clean can reduce the amount of lint buildup in the cabinet that can lead to fires. Once cleaned, be sure to clean your dryer filter after every load is dried. Dryer vent cleaning before and after will show you a noticeable difference in performance. Your clothes will dry quicker and your dryer vent will stay cleaner for long.

Save yourself headaches and unnecessary dryer vent repair costs down the road. Have your vents professionally cleaned by our Fargo HVAC experts. Call us at 701-293-5701 or use our online contact form today!