If your clothes aren’t drying as thoroughly or as quickly as usual, or if it’s been a while since you’ve performed a dryer vent cleaning, it may be time for some routine maintenance. In addition to helping your dryer run more efficiently, cleaning the dryer vent regularly will reduce the risk of a clogged vent, which can result in a fire hazard.
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If you don’t know how to clean a dryer vent or lint screen and trap, here's how in eight quick steps:
1. Turn off and unplug dryer. To clean the dryer vent, first unplug your dryer from the wall socket. If you have a gas dryer, it will also be necessary to turn off the gas before you go any further. If you don’t know how to shut off the gas, call a qualified professional or contact your local gas company.
2. Pull out dryer and remove vent clamp. Pull out the dryer far enough to get access to the vent duct. You’ll have to unscrew the clamp that holds the vent pipe to the wall opening. Depending on the type of clamp, you can either squeeze to release it, or you may have to use a screwdriver to detach the clamp. Now is a good time to inspect the vent piping for cracks or other signs of deterioration and to replace it if needed.
3. Check for clogs in vent and remove. Look into the vent to inspect it for any clogs or debris that you can remove with your hands. (Reach in slowly and carefully in case you come in contact with anything sharp. Consider wearing gloves to protect your hands.) To clean further into the vent, you’ll need either a special dryer vent cleaning tool that you can purchase at hardware and home stores, another long-handled cleaning tool that won’t puncture the vent, a plumber’s snake or a vacuum. Be sure to clean the vent tube and components that you disconnected from the wall, too.
4. Use vacuum to remove debris from lent. Using the cleaning tool or vacuum, remove as much lint and debris as you can from as deep into the opening as you can reach.
5. Remove clogs from exterior vent. Now, it’s time to go outside your home to inspect the exterior vent opening, which is usually located outside the wall closest to your dryer or on your home’s roof. If your exterior vent has a covering or flap, remove or raise it so you can look inside. With gloves on, cautiously remove any clogs or debris that you can reach with your hands, or use the same tools that you used to clean the opposite side of the vent.
6. Check for objects obstructing exterior vent. Now is also a good time to inspect area around the exterior opening to see if any plantings have grown around the vent, or if anything else is interfering or obstructing the airflow around it. If you have problems with birds nesting inside your exterior vent or with insects or rodents entering, consider installing a special ventilation cover that’s designed to prevent these problems.
7. Reattach vent to dryer. Go back inside and reattach the vent to the dryer by fastening the clamp. Sweep or vacuum any lint or debris that fell out while you were cleaning.
8. Turn power and dryer on. Turn the power back on and start the dryer. Let it run for a few minutes to see if any other debris is loosened. Check the exterior side of the vent one more time to see if any new debris appears after air has gone through.
There are some steps you can take to minimize the amount of lint that your dryer collects.
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