Dryers are one appliance in homes that seem to need little maintenance but last for years. Most people make sure to clean the lint trap at least once between loads, but very few think about cleaning the dryer vent. Because of the busy lives most people lead, dryer vent cleaning is not a chore that ranks high on anyone’s home maintenance “to-do” lists. Believe it or not, your dryer vent/duct and the inside of your dryer cabinet should be thoroughly cleaned every 1-2 years. Here are three very important reasons to have your dryer vent professionally cleaned:

1. To Prevent a House Fire

Dryers are the leading cause of house fires in the U.S. When your dryer is running, it heats up to a temperature of more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Lint and debris build up in your dryer duct and cabinet, even near the heating element of your dryer. According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report entitled “Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines:”

a) In 2010, almost 17,000 residential fires involving clothes dryers and/or washing machines caused in 380 injuries, 51 fatalities, and over $235 million in property damage.

b) Clothes dryers and washing machines accounted for 4.5% of all reported home structure fires, 1.9% of associated civilian deaths, 2.8% of associated civilian injuries, and 3.1% of associated direct property damage.

Additionally, in 2010, the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) reported that lint, dust, fibers, and clothing were the main items to first ignite in clothes dryer fires in dwellings, and failing to clean dryer and dryer vents was the main contributing factor in the ignition of clothes dryer fires in homes and apartment buildings.

2. To Save You Money

Dryers are energy-sucking monsters for the most part. They are THE one appliance (HVAC system excluded) in your home that contributes the most to your energy costs. If your dryer vent is clogged with debris, it reduces the airflow, and the dryer cannot dry your clothes efficiently, causing it to take more time (and therefore, more electricity) to dry a load of clothes. By cleaning your dryer vent once a year, you can save over $18-24 per month on your electricity bill. Additionally, you will also save money by not having to repair or replace your dryer. A dryer vent full of debris will cause the parts of your dryer to run down and/or break more quickly than usual.

3. To Prevent Moisture and Carbon Monoxide

For every typical load of laundry, at least one gallon of water must be expelled. Because of this, your dryer must have an exhaust to the outside. Inefficient exhausting will cause humid conditions that support mold growth and decrease indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality is a leading cause of respiratory illnesses and allergy flare-ups. Mold growth can not only be a source of allergy symptoms but can create dangerous toxicity levels in your home. Keeping your dryer vent clean will improve your dryer exhausting and prevent this unhealthy situation to occur. If you have a gas dryer, carbon monoxide is a serious concern when talking about dryer vent cleaning. Proper exhausting on your dryer will prevent any carbon monoxide gas from building up inside your home.

Here are some signs that it’s time for a dryer vent cleaning: * Clothes are hotter than usual at the end of the cycle. * Dryer takes more than one cycle to dry clothes. * Dryer is very hot to the touch. * Lint accumulation behind and around dryer. * Dampers on outside exhaust opening won’t open or barely open when dryer is running. * Laundry area feels warmer and/or moister than usual. * Burning odors in the laundry area.

If you notice one or more of these signs, give a professional a call to come and assess your dryer. it’s best to use a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified dryer exhaust technician. These technicians are specifically trained to properly clean and inspect all aspects of your dryer’s venting and exhaust.