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How Often Should I Clean my Dryer Duct ?

 

how often should I clean my dryer ductClothes dryers, like most other appliances in our homes are not maintained until they fail. When I was inspecting homes, many of my clients would ask me ” how often should I clean my dryer duct ? ” The answer to that question can vary greatly as it is based on the amount of use and the condition of the ducting. First lets look at what the dryer duct is intended to do and things you can check to ensure proper operation and safety.

Clothes dryers evaporate water from wet clothing as they tumble inside the spinning drum and hot air blows past them. The heat is provided by a gas burner or an electric element. Heavy garment loads may contain more than 1 gallon of water. During the drying process, this water becomes water vapor which exits the dryer and home through an exhaust duct. This ducting is more commonly referred to as the dryer vent duct.

Ensure the clothes dryer duct is properly connected

The dryer duct connection is usually behind the dryer, but some dryers are capable of being connected either underneath or out the side.

Locate your dryer exhaust outlet and make sure that it is actually connected and secured using a clamped to the exhaust outlet on the machine.

The other area that is often overlooked is the connection in the attic or crawlspace. If your dryer ducting is not venting to the exterior of your home you may well have another concern. Many times I have seen mold in attic spaces and crawlspace areas because of a failed through ceiling or floor connection. These areas should be check annually to ensure that the dryer vent is exhausting to the exterior as intended.

Make sure that the ducting is not restricted.

It is quite common for clothes dryers to be installed in tight areas such as closets or smaller rooms. They are usually pushed back against the wall to provide more working room in front of the machine. These types of installations usually have kinked ducting and are a higher risk to catch fire.

clean your dryer ducting

When I was inspecting homes I would often see clothes dryers connected with flexible plastic ducting. This type of ducting is unsafe in my opinion because of the materials’ ability to fail quicker if a fire occurs.

Many times dryers will vent using a flexible metal ducting, this type of ducting is better than the plastic type but still not the best option.

Check your ducting type,solid metal ducting should be used in where possible. The side walls are smooth and will allow air and lint to freely escape to the exterior of the home. Place proper 90 degree elbows where possible. If flexible ducting is required, ensure it is the metal type and that it is not kinked.

So how will my Ducting catch on fire?

The primary reason that restrictions can be a fire hazard is because the lint that is exhausted through the ducting will get trapped at the kinked locations of the dryer duct. Restrictions will limit the warm moist air from freely escaping the clothes dryer as it is intended.

Warm air will build up inside the machine and can cause the dryer to over heat. As the dryer overheats the probability of a mechanical failure increases and could trigger a spark. These sparks can ignite the dryer lint that is trapped inside the dryer ducting. The fire generally starts inside the machine but can quickly spread along the path of the ducting. Dryer ducting in many installations are inside walls or floor cavities, leaving the ducting and fire inaccessible.

Facts and figures on clothes dryer related fires

  • Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 5%.
  • The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.
  • A mechanical or electrical failure or malfunction was involved in the vast majority of home fires involving washing machines.
  • Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of drying, while washing machine fires usually involved the ignition of some part of the appliance.

 

How Often Should I Clean my Dryer Duct house fires

Source: NFPA’s “Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines” report

As you can see the dryer duct vent plays an important role in how efficiently and safely your clothes dryer functions. You should always follow the manufacture’s guideline for care and installation of your clothes dryer.

In answering the question “how often should I clean my dryer duct ?”

Annually at minimum, if you notice that the dryer is taking longer to dry your clothes, check the dryer vent. More times than not this indicates the ducting is restricted and is either kinked or full of clothes lint. You can buy a flexible tool with a cleaning head that is powered by an electric drill specially made for cleaning your dryer duct.

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How Often Should I Clean my Dryer Duct pinterest

If you have any questions or comments about how often you should clean your dryer duct , please leave it below. Please share this post via the Pinerest image above to build awareness of clothes dryer safety to your friends and family.  

Thank you Rick 

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “How Often Should I Clean my Dryer Duct ?”

  1. Hi Rick, thanks for such an informative post.  We never leave our dryer on when we go out for thse very reasons.  I have had a friend who’s house burnt down as the result of a dryer so I don;t want the same thing to happen to me.  I have just now gone and cleaned the duct tube and it was really clogged.  I always cleaned the filter but never the duct.  It is not clean, connected and ready to go.

    Thanks again

    Paul

    • Hi Paul thank you for your comment , yes plugged dryer ducts and house fires can go hand in hand , glad you took the time to clean your dryer duct .. all the best !!

  2. Thank you this is great information and just what I was looking for.  I just moved to the basement of a house with a small dryer and had no idea how or when to clean the dryer duct.  The apartment that I had moved from just had the one where you clean out the lint in the front before you use it.  I have never owned a dryer before so I didn’t really know anything about them.  Now that I know more I will be sure to clean it as I do not want it to catch on fire, or anything like that.  

  3. Rick:

    Thanks for your interesting article on the maintenance of a dryer’s exhaust duct.  One of the key points I noticed, besides the picture and statistics was the fact that my dryer is taking longer than it did originally to dry.  It makes sense that if the flow of heat is restricted, humidity will take longer to evaporate.  To me this article came at just the right time, and I do thank you for writing it.  Now it’s up to me to take appropriate action.

    • Hi Hugo thank you for commenting , yes if your clothes dryer is taking longer to dry your laundry , then checking the dryer vent duct is a great place to check before calling for an appliance repair man.

  4. Interesting topic and a must read for anyone who cares about living in a clean and healthy environment be it male or female we all require some form of cleaning to stay alive.

    I have learnt a lot about cleaning a dryer ducts in reading this article it has been quite detailed and educative. I’m sure to practice what I have read  the next time my dryer vent ducting  needs a clean up I will check back to your site 

    • Thank you for your comments Zuchii , yes keeping a clean dryer vent is a great way to protect your house and lower the risk of possible fires.

  5. Very good post and great info. 

    I have a special dryer now, which has no dryer duct anymore, but it still needs cleaning. 

    But I will show this to a friend, since he doesn’t know as well how many times he has to clean it, he doesn’t clean it now, and I think that is very bad, you can destroy your machine, and they are costly. 

    We have a condensator dryer, and I have to say that it is the best one I’ve had, in my opinion. 

    Anyway, thanks for sharing it. 

  6. Thanks for the informative post, so many people don’t dedicate enough time for home maintenance and by so doing fail to pay attention to things happening around them, I have once heard the  case of an aunt  whose house almost got burnt because of the poor maintenance of the washing machine.i hope to follow all these instructions anytime I purchase my dryer. 

    • Thank you fro your comment Clement , yes as you can see the statistics clothes dryer and washer fires are pretty common.  

  7. Hi Rick,

    Thanks for such an informative post and for providing statistical analysis to back up your assertions. 

    Cloth dryers are an essential part of our lives as they dry your clothes without having to wait for long hours Sun drying them so it will not augur well allowing such an important gadget causing a fire outbreak due to non chalant attitude and neglect of the drying duct.

    So we should learn to pay attention to little things that can cause a great havoc.

  8. Thanks for this post as it is a timely reminder of the unseen dangers that are in our homes. I was shocked to discover how high the percentage of a house fire starting as a direct result of a lint clogged or kinked clothes drier ducting is.

    Most people will duly clean the lint filter that is within the clothes dryer. This is probably because the lint filter is visible. But because the ducting is usually hidden, people forget to clean it.

    Cleaning once a year doesn’t really help because very few people will remember to clean it every year thereafter unless they have some sort of manual or electronic reminder in place.

    Maybe dryers should have a safety sticker on the front with a date reminder so that people don’t forget to clean their ducts.

    • Thanks for your comment Suzie. I agree most people will walk past something for years and not think about routine maintenance. With a little bit of house maintenance can easily save money and protect your investment at the same time.

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