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How to Determine Whether Your Dryer Vent Needs Cleaning

When it comes to owning a home, you’re going to find that the maintenance tasks are endless. Not only do you have to clean your living spaces, but you’ll want to ensure safety and longevity of your structure. This includes your components, too, with annual HVAC services, air duct cleaning, gutter cleaning, and flushing of the water heater, among other things.

For new homeowners unfamiliar with the annual maintenance schedule, it’s easy to let details slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, this can lead to damages to the home or even danger to the inhabitants.

One task you should definitely add to your list if you haven’t already done so is cleaning your dryer vent. You might think it’s enough to clean the lint trap regularly, but lint can build up in other areas. You need to make sure lint doesn’t clog the system or you could end up with serious hazards, such as a dryer fire that threatens your structure and your family.

How can you determine when it’s time to clean your dryer vents? There are several things to consider when setting the schedule for this necessary home maintenance task.

Do It Annually

The easiest way to make sure you complete all essential home maintenance tasks is to schedule them at roughly the same time each year. You can have your HVAC service, residential air duct cleaning, water heater flushing, drain snaking, and roof inspection completed in the fall each year before winter weather sets in, for example.

Some people schedule such tasks around time changes (March and November), but if you live in a region that suffers severe winter weather conditions, you should probably just stick to changing the batteries in your smoke detectors during daylight savings and schedule home maintenance during months when the weather is more accommodating.

Check Your Vents

The average homeowner might not be keen to pull out the dryer, disconnect ductwork and check venting components. However, this is the best way to discover if you’re due for dryer vent cleaning. If you find the duct and vent full of lint, it’s probably high time for a cleaning.

If there isn’t a lot of buildup, you might as well clean anyway. After all, how often do you plan to tear apart your venting and put it back together?

While you can clean ducting yourself, it’s probably best to hire a professional service to do it for you. The reason is that professionals are going to make sure the job is done right. If you do it yourself, you could save a little money, but you may inadvertently increase risk factors in the process.

Most consumer model vacuums and other duct and vent cleaning tools are inadequate for the job. In fact, they could even make problems worse by compacting lint deep within ducts and vents. If you want to be sure that your dryer vent is clean and safe to use, professional help is definitely the way to go.

Watch for Warning Signs

There could be any number of signs to indicate that your dryer vent needs cleaning. If it seems like it’s taking longer and longer to dry every load of clothing, it’s a good bet that cleaning vents will solve the problem.

You should also watch for clothing that seems too hot when you remove it, or excess heat on the outside of the appliance. A burning smell when you run the dryer is also a serious warning sign and you should shut off your dryer and call a professional cleaning service immediately if this occurs.

Another good sign that it’s time for a cleaning is if you can’t remember the last time you had one. Dryer vents need to be cleaned regularly if you want to keep them lint-free, so if you haven’t had it done in a while, you might as well schedule a cleaning.

Ask a Professional

If all else fails, you can simply ask your professional duct and vent cleaning service to schedule you for regular maintenance. These pros should be able to create a suitable schedule based on the demand you typically place on your dryer.

For example, a large family that does several loads of laundry a day may need more frequent vent cleaning visits than a single person that only creates a couple of loads a week. Generally speaking, annual cleanings are your best bet, although you may determine that your particular use calls for different scheduling.

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