Identifying and Clearing Clogged Dryer Vents

Most of us are aware of the importance of cleaning the lint tray after each use. However, experts also suggest that you should keep an eye out for lint behind and under the washer and dryer. If you notice excessive lint, it is a sign that the ventilation system is clogged and can be very dangerous. To properly clean your dryer's ventilation system, you must first know where it is and where it ends.

At the back of most dryers there is a short 4-inch diameter exhaust. This exhaust is connected to a specific duct inside the wall through an aluminum elbow or other tube. Hot air travels along these metal pipes and eventually exits through an opening in an exterior wall of the house. When the dryer duct is clogged, you have to work really hard to dry your clothes, which means it gets overloaded and creates a burning smell. To eliminate any large lumps and build-up on the duct walls, you can try using a wire hanger to clean it out.

Straighten the hanger and insert it into the ventilation pipe. Try to move the obstruction along the pipe until it disappears. It is important to be aware of the warning signs that indicate a clogged dryer vent. Below are some of the top indicators that should alert you to take action:

  • You can't remember the last time you cleaned the dryer vent
  • Your clothes are still damp after a cycle
  • You notice lint buildup on or around the outside of the dryer
  • You smell a burning odor coming from your dryer
  • You notice birds, rodents, or other animals living in your dryer vent
Ventilation plays an important role in controlling temperature and humidity in your home. It is essential that warm, humid air from the dryer does not enter the interior of your house.

If you suspect that your dryer vent is clogged, it is best to go safely and have it checked.

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