Is you clothes dryer performing poorly?
If it seems to take a lot longer to dry clothes than it used to, it may be because you have neglected some important maintenance.
The dryer requires some every-use maintenance and some annual maintenance. If these are not done, you risk a house fire and some poor drying performance. It is estimated there are 15,000 dryer fires in the United States each year. There is a filter, usually just inside the door, that must be cleaned every time you use the dryer. The lint that is trapped needs to be removed and discarded. If you use fabric softener pads, you should check once a week to make sure these are not clogging the filter. Check for this by running water over the filter. If the water does not flow through the filter freely, wash it with a mild soap.
The dryer exhaust (hot air) goes into a four-inch metal duct that either goes through the side wall of your house or up and through the roof. These ducts collect lint on their walls and constrict just like cholesterol clogs arteries. These ducts should be cleaned every two years – more if you have pets that shed – along with the cap on the outside end of the duct. This can be done with a round, four-inch brush on a flexible shaft made for that purpose. This brush can be fed into the duct behind the dryer. The brush is available at home centers and hardware stores, or if you are lucky, you can borrow one from your neighbor.
To clean the duct, the dryer must be moved out from the wall and the flexible hose that connects the dryer to the duct must be disconnected. The brush is inserted into the duct in the wall and rotated with an electric drill. Slowly push the brush up into the duct while rotating it with the drill. When the shaft is inside the duct, screw on the next section of shaft and continue to push the brush into the duct while rotating with the drill. Repeat, adding sections until the brush comes up against the outside cap. Remove the lint that is dislodged from the duct and discard it. It could be as much volume as a sixteen-inch softball. Clean the outside cap with your hand.
This job is best done with two people, as the dryer is heavy and awkward to move out. If you live alone, this is a good time to team up with a neighbor and clean each other’s dryer vents. In our neighborhood, we are always helping each other with various chores, and at times, we are rewarded with a batch of fresh-baked cookies. Ah, what a skill to be able to bake.
If you are not interested in doing this project yourself, do not ignore cleaning this vent, as a clogged vent is a severe fire hazard. There are professional dryer vent cleaning services that can be hired to clean your vent.
If you have suggestions for future tips or have questions about maintenance around your home, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.