There are an estimated 15,500 fires, 10 deaths, and 10 injuries a year associated with dryer vent.
Several hundred people a year are subject to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper installation. With these statistics in mind, its puzzling to think that most people think it is unnecessary to have their dryer vent cleaned. Dryer vent cleaning improves not only the safety of your dryer vent but the efficiency as well. Dryer vents can become filled or clogged with debris or lint. This can increase drying time or cause the dryer itself to over heat. Having a dryer vent that is not cleaned properly can cost you more money. This is because the dryer has to run longer to dry clothes. A dirty vent can cause fires in the dryer or dryer duct.
Even though lint is a routine blockage, animal nesting can also cause blockage. Lint accumulation combined with reduced airflow are excellent conditions for a fire, seeing as lint is highly combustible. Many newer homes have dryer vents located away from outside walls, causing the vents to be longer and created with sharp turns, greatly increasing the chance for blockage to occur. Flammable, flimsy, plastic or foil duct extenders are another major culprit in dryer vent fires. Be sure that your dryer vent uses only metal vents, seeing that they also resist crushing better, allowing the lint to be carried out of the system more efficiently.
If you have noticed that your dryer is running longer than usual then it may be time to have your dryer vent cleaned. There are many different types of dryer vents. Some are short and straight and can be cleaned easily by the owner. Others may be longer or have bends in them and require a cleaning professional. Certified dryer vent cleaners may be contacted, but many chimney sweeping companies are certified to clean them as well.
A scary and dangerous fact of the matter is that, even if you feel your dryer is running properly and do not suspect blockage, a routine cleaning can prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide from seeping into your home. A professional will be able to see if your vent is not exhausting properly to the outdoors. This causes carbon monoxide to back up into the home.
Measuring duct back pressure before and after the cleaning process can determine the effectiveness of the cleaning. This measurement also helps the insure that your dryer duct is not exceeding the recommended limits.
Some at home tips for keeping your vent in good condition are to be sure to clean the lint tray every time you use the dryer. Your dryer duct should be made of solid, metallic material. If vinyl or foil, contact a professional near you because these surfaces are more combustible. If your duct vents anywhere except the exterior of your home (attic or crawl space for instance) immediately contact a professional. This is very unsafe.
Also, the screws protruding inside the dryer duct can cause lint to be trapped more easily. Creating quicker blockage and a greater potential for fires. Lastly, if you have any questions it’s better to be safe than sorry. The cost of a service call to have a professional come and take a look at a potential problem is a far better price to pay than some of the other consequences that can arise from improper dryer vent installation, cleaning, etc