(All photos are from real home inspections performed by Risley Home Inspections)
Every year, dryer duct or dryer lint fires cause millions and millions of dollars in damages, hundreds of injuries, and even deaths. Dryer vents and ducts can be something most homeowners do not really think about. Experts recommend cleaning your dryer vent and ducts at least two times a year, more frequently for larger families, since the dryer is likely running more often. This can be done as a DIY (do it yourself) project or there are companies that offer dryer duct cleaning as a service also.
Warning signs your dryer ducts need cleaned
If you notice a burning smell in or near your laundry room
Your clothes are not getting dry
Your dryer is hot to the touch
Your laundry room feels hot and humid
You notice a musty smell
You see lint built up at exterior cover
For starters, you should clean and remove lint from your dryer vent filter before each use. This will slow down the lint build up in the machine and duct and allow for more efficient operation.
Dryers with excess lint, can use up to 30% more energy, raising energy bills and decrease the useful lifespan of your appliance since you have to run a cycle more than once to get your clothes to dry properly.
Dryer duct condition
If you have access to your dryer duct-in a crawlspace for example-check to make sure your dryer duct is in good condition and properly supported:
The dryer vent should be properly connected to the exterior damper cover.
Made of smooth metal duct work with no screws penetrating to prevent catching lint.
Limit the amount of 45 or 90 degree bends if possible.
Duct should be at least 4" (inches) in diameter.
Supported at least every 12' (feet).
And should not have a screen installed at exterior cover to prevent trapping lint
Your dryer vent should always vent to the exterior of the home. Dryer lint is extremely flammable, so if it collects in your dryer duct, in your home, or crawlspace, it poses a serious fire hazard. It also can release moisture into your home, creating moisture issues and even promote mold or mildew growth. Also check to see where your dryer vent is terminated. It should be more than 3' (feet) away from any building openings such as doors and windows, as well as 10' (feet) away from your AC or condenser unit. Your air conditioning unit can suck in the lint during fan operation, causing lint and debris to cling onto your condenser fins and block air flow to the coils. Making your air conditioning unit work harder.
Lastly, you want to make sure the exterior cover has a damper and easily opens and closes to prevent birds or pests from entering your duct causing a clog or damage. The exterior cover should also be attached to home flush and sealed or caulked to maintain a properly sealed building envelope and/or to prevent pest and moisture intrusion to the home.
Don't wait for disaster to happen and move up cleaning your dryer ducts to the top of your to-do list!