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Clean Dryer Vents
Posted By Ethan On February 10, 2011 @ 7:00 am In HVAC | 3 Comments
Dryers work by tumbling clothes and introducing heat while humid air is vented out an exhaust. Most of the lint produced in this process is captured in a lint trap, but small amounts pass through and can deposit in the dryer vent. Dryers are a highly utilized appliance and lint can quickly buildup over time.
As with just about every home appliance, dryers will function longer and more efficiently with the right preventative maintenance. The single most effective maintenance a homeowner can perform is routinely clearing away lint and obstructions. It’s a simple job but one that will ensure your dryer is safe and effective.
Dangers of Lint Buildup
Clogged vents will have a negative impact on how well your dryer performs. At a minimum, lint buildup will restrict air-flow causing the dryer to work harder for the same results. This in turn shortens the dryer lifespan. If your vent pipe is long or has lots of twists and turns, take extra precaution as lint will deposit faster.
If you think about it, lint is composed of small, dry fibers which can easily catch fire. Fires that start will spread quickly with catastrophic effects, and an alarming number of house fires are caused by blocked dryer vents. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC)  reported that in 1998 an estimated 15,600 house fires were linked to clothes dryers.
Dryers that utilize natural gas also exhaust carbon monoxide . If a dryer is malfunctioning, carbon monoxide can back up into your home, accumulating in lethal amounts.
Here are some of the warning signs that indicate your dryer vent could use some attention:
Many sites suggest checking your dryer vent at least once a month and cleaning as necessary. Really, it depends on how much you use the dryer. If you have a large family and lots of laundry, you’ll need to clean the vent more often. I read one suggestion that you should perform maintenance every time you change the batteries in your smoke detector- twice a year.
Dryer Vent Monitors
There are devices available that will alert you of an obstructed dryer duct. Basically, you install a pressure sensor in a clean dryer duct and it monitors any change. As lint builds up, the pressure required to force air out of the vent increases tripping an alarm.
Here are some steps to take to prevent fires and increase the efficiency of your clothes dryer:
Some dryer maintenance cannot be completed by a homeowner and it’s important to get a qualified service technician involved. They will be able to asses the interior of the dryer and fully clean a dryer vent. If you’re looking for a professional to service a dryer vent or the dryer itself, it’s important to shop around. Gather at least three quotes and get everything in writing.
There are some very inexpensive, easy-to-use dryer vent cleaning kits available for homeowners. Gardus offers a 10-Piece dryer vent system that utilizes a drill driver to really scrub the ducts clean. It can reach up to 12′ and navigate turns.
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URLs in this post:
 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC): http://www.cpsc.gov/
 carbon monoxide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide
 USCPSC website: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5022.html
 Monica Arellano-Ongpin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maong/3674621311/sizes/m/in/photostream/
 seishin17: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seishin17/3217006906/sizes/m/in/photostream/
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