To see the article in the published magazine, please visit Volume 39 of the Common Interest Magazine

Preventative Dryer Vent Care

While cleaning the dryer vent is not on the top of every owner’s to-do list, it is a crucial activity that, when neglected, can cause increased energy bills, expensive dryer repairs, and dangerous fire hazards. Thankfully, taking measures to keep these problems from arising is simple, only necessitating preventative dryer vent care.

While running, dryers create heat and humidity that needs to escape the dryer without obstruction, flowing unimpeded to the exit vent on the outside of the property. Simple annual cleanings of your dryer vents can keep that humidity and heat from causing an accrual of lint in your ducting. However, if dryer vents are not properly maintained, are laid out crudely, or were poorly installed, it can work against the airflow and pressure required for a functional dryer.

Sometimes, the problem is found in the design, layout, and/or installation of the ductwork running through walls and subfloors. Longer dryer vents with more turns cause poor air velocity, encouraging lint accumulation and blockages. Furthermore, the airflow exit point can also drastically affect the functionality of your dryer vent. Sidewall exit vents are typically less expensive than other solutions, however, without protection, are prone to blockages from birds looking for a warm place to nest. While rooftop vents seemingly pose a simple solution for owners, these vents can be significantly more expensive to install and maintain.

Even a dryer vent with perfect ductwork and no external blockages will see buildup around the inside of the vent from lint and dust. At one point or another, we have all been frustrated by having to dry a load of laundry a few times over, wondering why the laundry is still damp after a long dryer cycle. This frustrating experience is often due to an accumulation of lint in the dryer vent from everyday use. While running the load of laundry again may seem like an easy answer, running a dryer more than once to finish a load can double– or even triple– electricity costs. On average, a clogged or poorly vented dryer will cost the owner an additional $12 – $18 a month. Worse yet, a dirty dryer vent shortens the life of the heating element inside the dryer, leading to expensive repairs, sometimes costing upwards of $200.

So, what does it look like to have your dryer vent cleaned?

There are several options, and some may be preferred while others are more necessary due to the layout and design of a property. When possible, we always recommend a full-service cleaning. In a full-service cleaning, the technician inspects your dryer vent and the flex hose that attaches to the wall, they will then run a rotating brush and rods through the duct line (like a snake) and push and pull the lint out via forced air and suction. This “scrubbing” of the duct is ideal and is often necessary on the most difficult or clogged vents. Another option for larger complexes where there may not be severe blockage, but rather, a need for simple routine cleaning for 100 or more units, is that the technicians can clean the dryer vent from the outside of the property using a compressed airline and spinning head that feeds through the duct and pushes forced air back out towards the exit, essentially blowing out the lint. This, while maybe not as detailed as entering the property, is still a fantastic way to take preventative care and is more affordable when budget or entrance into units is an issue.

Finally, beyond the improved energy costs and reduction in appliance repair risks, one of the most important benefits is the improvement of fire safety. It’s important to remember that dryers are a large electric heat source, so they need to be ventilated properly. Otherwise, the accumulation of lint in the back of the dryer creates the perfect kindling to create a blazing house fire. Over 2,900 dryer fires are reported in the US every year, of which a large portion are due to lack of proper maintenance. Regularly cleaning the vent of all lint and dust is the best way to minimize this risk.

 

Ultimately, there are many ways to clean your dryer ducting to reduce financial and safety risks, according to your individual needs. For more information, to get a quote for your vents, or for answers regarding your community’s dryer vent care, feel free to reach out!