Like other appliances in your home, your dryer requires regular maintenance. Without it, your machine may gradually become less efficient and more prone to breaking down. You’ll likely have to run it longer to get your clothes dry, which can drive up your energy costs. Not only that, but a lack of maintenance increases your risk of fire.
To ensure your machine’s performance and safety, you can get your dryer vent professionally cleaned, but for you DIYers out there wondering if you can clean your dryer vent yourself, the answer is yes. It’s possible to perform some of your dryer maintenance yourself. Here’s what you need to know.
Benefits of Dryer Vent Maintenance
Keeping your dryer vent clean comes with several significant benefits.
Dry Your Clothes Faster
Lint build-up in an uncleaned vent prevents your dryer from being able to dry your clothes effectively. While the machine will still get the job done, the process will take longer. If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your dryer vent — or if you’ve never done it before — you’re likely to notice a significant improvement in drying time once you’ve unclogged it.
Keep Energy Costs Down
Clothes dryers are already one of the most expensive appliances to run, as they use up 3.2% of a home’s energy. When a dryer takes longer or has to work harder to do its job, it will naturally use even more electricity. Cleaning the vent improves your dryer’s efficiency, reducing the amount of energy it needs to operate.
Protect the Life of Your Dryer
The lifespan of a dryer is roughly 10 years, on average. When yours has to expend more energy and run for longer periods of time, it’s likely to experience wear and tear more quickly. Parts can fail faster, resulting in breakdowns and the need for replacement well before the end of your appliance’s expected lifespan. Routine maintenance, including dryer vent cleaning, ensures that your dryer lasts — and functions at its best — as long as possible.
Preserve the Quality of Your Clothing
An inefficient dryer doesn’t only affect the lifespan of the appliance itself; it also affects the longevity and quality of your clothes. Heat inevitably deteriorates fibers in various fabrics. While you can’t stop that process, you can slow it down by keeping your dryer clean and running efficiently.
Minimize Home Allergens
Dirty or clogged dryer vents can trap moisture, leading to mold, mildew, dust mites, and other allergens. Over time, those allergens can spread to other areas of your home, causing issues such as breathing problems and rashes. Cleaning your dryer vent can help keep allergens at bay, which can help protect the health of everyone in your home.
Reduce Your Fire Risk
According to a 2020 report from the National Fire Protection Association, dryers caused 4% of home structure fires between 2014 and 2018. The failure to clean dryer vents is the leading cause of dryer fires, ahead of mechanical failures and electrical malfunctions. By keeping your dryer vent clean, you can significantly reduce your risk of a house fire.
Dryer Vent Maintenance DIY Tasks
How often should a dryer vent be cleaned? Ideally, you’ll want to have it cleaned at least once a year — and with the right tools and a little knowledge, you can do the job yourself.
1. Turn On the Dryer
Turning your dryer on forces air out, helping to get rid of dust, dirt, and other debris. You can also use this time to go outside to locate and clean your exterior vent. Use a dryer cleaning kit, which you can purchase online or at your local home improvement store.
Dryer cleaning kits come with a rotating brush head and a series of flexible rods that you can connect together to reach deeper into the vent. Attach the end of the last rod to a power drill to spin the brush.
2. Unplug Your Dryer and Disconnect the Duct
Next, turn your dryer off and unplug it from the wall. If your dryer relies on gas, shut off the supply valve. Next, carefully pull the appliance away from the wall to give yourself access to the back. Locate where the duct meets both your dryer and the wall.
When you’re ready to begin, disconnect the duct from the back of your dryer. You may need to use a screwdriver to release any clamps holding it in place. Finally, disconnect the other end of the duct from the wall.
3. Vacuum the Inside of the Dryer Vent
Use the hose attachment of your vacuum to clean the opening at the back of your dryer and vacuum out the duct as best as you can. You can use the dryer cleaning tool to reach deeper into the duct for a more thorough clean.
Note: If there’s a lot of lint built up in your dryer, put on a pair of gloves and remove as much as you can by hand before you start vacuuming.
4. Clean Up
When you’re done, sweep up the debris and reattach your dryer duct. Finally, push your dryer back to its original location and plug it back into the nearby power outlet or turn on the gas supply valve.
Dryer Vent Performance and Safety Tips
Here are a few additional tips that HomeKeep recommends to help keep your dryer functioning efficiently and safely:
- Clean the lint trap after each use. Every time you remove your laundry from the dryer, be sure to clean the lint trap.
- Shorten the dryer duct. The dryer duct only needs to be long enough to reach from the back of your dryer to the wall vent. Shortening the hose means your dryer will use less energy to push moist air outside. It also reduces the amount of space that lint and other debris can fill.
- Never leave your dryer running unattended. Just like your stove or oven, you should only run your dryer if someone is home.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Even with regular cleaning, a dryer can still be a fire hazard. Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher in or near where you do your laundry.
- Schedule professional maintenance appointments. While you can clean the vent yourself, some dryer maintenance tasks require a trained professional. Schedule an appointment at least once a year.
Keep Your Dryer In Good Working Order
Regular dryer vent and duct cleanings are essential to keeping your dryer in optimal working order and ensuring the safety of your home. You can do the job yourself, but you should still schedule professional dryer maintenance appointments to ensure that each component of your appliance is in good condition.
In addition to twice-yearly dryer vent cleanings, HomeKeep provides preventative maintenance services for your HVAC, water heater, and other essential home appliances and systems. For one low price, you can keep your home in tip-top shape all year long. Learn more about our maintenance bundles today.