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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Top 4 Signs You Have a Clogged Dryer Vent and How to Fix It

1/29/2020 (Permalink)

Fire Safety Tips Fire safety tips picture

When it comes to house fires, there are the usual culprits we expect to find—smokers who leave cigarettes behind without extinguishing them, or Christmas tree lights shorting into an electrical fire. The kitchen is the usual place where the majority of fires start, so it may be surprising to know that your innocent-looking clothes dryer is also a major fire hazard. According to The National Fire Protection Association, malfunctioning or poorly-maintained clothes dryers are the main culprit in a significant number of house fires every year. To prevent your clothes dryer from starting a house fire, here are the top four signs you have a clogged dryer vent and how to fix it. 



How a Clogged Dryer Vent Can Cause a Fire

In most cases when a clothes dryer starts a fire, lint, fluff and other debris get stuck in the dryer hose and air vent. This reduces the airflow and backs up exhaust gas. If the dryer vent isn’t cleaned, it will cause a fire eventually. But it’s easy to avoid. Every year when you do a big deep clean, make sure you inspect and clean your air dryer vent. 

Not sure if you’ve got a clogged dryer vent on your hands? There are a few warning signs it’s happening. Act immediately if you notice any of the following. 

1. Your clothes and the dryer are hot. 

When you have a clogged dryer vent, you’ll often find that when you remove your clothes from the dryer, they are hot to the touch. This telltale sign means that the dryer is not exhausting properly. Clothes that are freshly dried should be warm, but not piping hot. The same is true for the dryer when it’s been doing its job. Warm is good, hot is not. 

2. You notice a burning smell coming from the dryer. 

If you notice a burning smell when the dryer is operating, this is a major sign that a fire is about to start. When highly-flammable pieces of lint get too hot, it creates a burning smell, and the lint can ignite inside the machine. If you notice a burning smell when using the dryer, turn it off immediately. Do not use the machine again until a professional inspects it and gives you the all-clear that it’s safe to use. 

3. The vent hood flap doesn’t open properly.

If you notice that there is a buildup of debris and lint on the outside vent or the dryer hose, then you know you have a dryer vent in need of some TLC. The dryer duct hood flap is designed to be opened. If the dryer duct does not open when the machine is working, then this is a sure sign that the airflow is being restricted thanks to a buildup of lint. 

4. Your clothes are taking longer to dry.

A clogged dryer vent is not just a fire hazard; it’s environmentally unfriendly and costs money. Each time you use your clothes dryer, you could find yourself twiddling your thumbs for an inordinately long time, waiting for clothes to dry. Clothes may take twice or even three times longer to dry when the dryer vent is clogged. The longer you use your clothes dryer, then the higher your bills will be at the end of the month. In addition, you’re also wearing out your machine and reducing its lifespan. 

A clothes dryer is not unlike a car with mileage, and so you could be replacing your dryer sooner than necessary because the clogged vent is putting wear-and-tear on the internal mechanisms. When a dryer vent is clogged, the warm, moist air stays in the cavity of the dryer and keeps your clothes damp, preventing them from drying as quickly as they should. 

It’s estimated that a 40-minute dryer cycle in an average dryer costs around 45 cents. And a typical household might use their dryer five times per week. This means that running your dryer for a year will cost around $117. So you’ll be spending an extra $117 to $234 if your dryer needs to run for 80 or 120 minutes to dry your clothes. And those figures don’t calculate how much you’ll spend on replacing worn-out dryers faster than normal. There are monetary, environmental, and fire prevention reasons to fix this issue today. 

How to clean your dryer vent in 5 easy steps. 

1. Locate your dryer vent. 

It’s always good to know what you’re looking for. You are looking for an exhaust that is around four inches in diameter at the back of the dryer. You also need to locate where it leads to the outside. There’ll be a plastic cover over the vent and it looks a bit like this:

Credit: Wikipedia

2. Pull the dryer out from the wall. 

Having located the vent, pull out the dryer and disconnect it from the power supply. Carefully remove any metal tape or clamps that are connecting the vent pipe to the exhaust. 

3. Clean the clogged dryer vent. 

You need to buy a kit specially designed to clean out your dryer vent. They cost under $20 usually and are essentially two six-feet long rods that connect. This makes a 12 foot-long pole, like a chimney sweep, enabling you to reach Inside the dryer. Use the brush in a circular motion to dislodge the lint and debris.  

4. Reconnect the dryer.

You can use a vacuum or dustpan and brush to remove lint and debris from the laundry room floor. Then reposition your dryer in the correct place and reconnect it. 

5. Try a test run. 

“It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it,” could’ve been coined for cleaning your dryer vent. But once you’ve finished, you’ll be blown away by how much more efficient your dryer is. You can rest easy knowing you’ve saved money and have taken an important step in fire prevention. Good job.  

SERVPRO of North Irving: Helping Prevent Fires from a Clogged Dryer Vent

We hope a fire never happens in your home. Here at SERVPRO of North Irving, we’re experts in fire remediation and fire restoration. If you’ve had a house fire, we know you’re stressed and scared. But we can help put your house back in order with our fire restoration services while you catch your bearings. 

It might be that you are either unwilling or unable to clean your dryer vent yourself. You need to be able physically to pull out the dryer and bend and clean out the duct. Don’t let that be a reason to leave your dryer vent without its annual cleaning.  We can also come out to help you professionally clean your dryer vent once a year, in accordance with fire safety advice. 


The small cost of having your clogged dryer vent cleaned professionally will be easily offset by replacing your dryer less often. And it will also save you hundreds of dollars a year in reduced energy bills. Whether it’s fire damage restoration tips or a free no-obligation quote, give us a call today at (972) 986 7677.

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