Lint is the leading cause of fire in dryers, and it is highly flammable. It accumulates naturally in the dryer and its exhaust system, causing the dryer to work harder with each load. This build-up can reach the heating element, which is a dangerous situation. To understand how a dryer vent gets dirty, it is important to know what happens each time the dryer is used.
Heat, friction, and clothes from the dryer create lint that accumulates in the filter and some of it passes through the ventilation grille. The fluff alone is highly combustible. The heat from the dryer, created by electrical or gas elements, can spark a fire if it doesn't work properly or is poorly maintained. Moisture from the drying process causes lint to stick to places where it shouldn't, and that's why the dryer has a lint filter.
Unfortunately, a lint filter won't capture all the lint and will fail if not properly cleaned. When homeowners want washing machines and dryers to be in areas close to bathrooms, this can create a situation where ventilation grilles are designed to go through the ceiling rather than just outside an outside wall. This occurs when the dryer is pushed too hard against the wall or when the pipe is crooked, causing air to accumulate in the dryer and, over time, lint to accumulate. There are few places for lint to accumulate, and if the dryer vent exhaust is hermetically sealed, especially if it is a booster fan, the equipment will remove most of the accumulated lint before it becomes dangerous.
Checking the back of the dryer every week to make sure the ventilation grille is properly connected is essential. If you feel or see that there is moisture around the dryer, this is a clear sign that something is wrong with the ventilation. Another way to avoid possible fires caused by lint is to adopt the European approach: install a dryer of the heat pump type without ventilation. The best and easiest way to clean the dryer vent is to remove the dryer, vacuum the area and components of the dryer, and then disconnect the vent.
To prevent fires caused by lint build-up in your dryer vent, make sure you clean your lint filter regularly and your ventilation system from time to time. Inspect your back of your dryer every week for proper connection of your ventilation grille. If you detect moisture around your dryer, this could be an indication that something is wrong with your ventilation system. Consider installing a heat pump type without ventilation for extra safety.