6 Ways Dryer Vent Cleaning Can Keep Your Family Safe and Save Money

Some people take their automatic clothes dryer for granted, but others—the ones who have had to spend hours hanging laundry out to dry on a clothesline—really appreciate it for the modern convenience that it is. However, most homeowners don't realize that their machine needs something from them to function safely and effectively—dryer vent cleaning.

Without professional dryer cleaning, your laundry machine can cost you a lot of money over the years in replacements and destroyed clothing. Much worse, it can actually threaten the safety of your family and cause catastrophic damage to your property.

This guide will explain six reasons why dryer vent cleaning is an absolute must, and how to tell when your machine is in desperate need of professional help from the experts at Mr. Handyman of Fairfax and Eastern Loudoun Counties.

1. Reduce the Risk of a House Fire

This is the most critical piece of information you need to know about your dryer vent: if it's not regularly maintained, it becomes a major fire hazard. Normally, lint and other debris such as dryer sheets get caught in the lint screen and the duct is used to rid the machine of hot, humid air. But over time, flammable lint makes its way into the ductwork, partially or completely blocking the flow of air. This causes the machine to struggle and it can create a tiny spark that sets the lint buildup on fire, sending flames raging through the inside of the walls, often on multiple levels of your home.

The consequences are devastating, and it happens more frequently than many people think. Sadly, about 2,900 residential clothes dryer fires are reported to U.S. fire departments every year, resulting in an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and a staggering $35 million in property loss. That's the true cost of failing to have your duct cleaned, and it's completely preventable. You can help reduce the hazard by always cleaning your dryer lint traps after every load of laundry.

2. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

While this is another serious, potentially fatal complication of neglecting to clean your ductwork, it only applies to gas dryers, not electric. Gas-powered laundry machines produce carbon monoxide, the colorless, odorless gas that can poison people who breathe it in large quantities. The machine normally vents the gas outside where it dissipates harmlessly—unless you have clogged dryer vents that are blocking air flow and causing the carbon monoxide to seep into your home where it poses a real health threat.

3. Avoid Unnecessary Wear and Tear on Your Machine

Saving money is, of course, nowhere near as important as your safety—but it's still a worthwhile goal. When your ductwork is clogged, it forces your machine to work much harder than it would otherwise while subjecting its internal components to damaging heat. This will cause it to break down and need replacement far sooner than it would if it was properly maintained, maybe even years sooner. Replacement will eat up more money in the long run than duct cleaning services and is an annoying hassle to deal with.

4. Keep Your Clothing Looking Good Longer

Every time you dry your clothes, they get a little more faded, stretched, and worn looking. It's generally a reasonable trade-off for the convenience of automatic drying, but when your machine isn't working efficiently, your clothes have to spend longer and longer getting blasted with heat and it accelerates the wear and tear. This means you will have to repair or replace clothing items more frequently than you would if they were spending less time in a struggling dryer.

5. Cut Back on Irritating Allergens

If you or a loved one suffer from dust allergies, you know how important it is to stay on top of the vacuuming. The same principle applies to your ventilation system. Lint is loaded with dust mites and other allergens, which escape from clogged ducts and filter throughout your home to cause all that itchy, eye-watering unpleasantness. Professional duct cleaning can really reduce your suffering and make you a lot more comfortable in your own home.

6. Save Time

It's still not as time-consuming as the clothesline, but when your machine isn't working efficiently you have to keep running and re-running it to get clothes dry, or wait much longer for the cycle to finish in the first place, which eats up a lot of valuable time when you're trying to get through a mountain of dirty laundry.

How Can You Tell If Your Dryer Vent is Clogged?

If you're convinced that dryer vent cleaning is important and wondering if your machine needs attention, look for these warning signs that your dryer exhaust performance isn't at its best:

  • Laundry takes more than about 30 to 45 minutes to dry, depending on dryer manufacturer run-length guidelines

  • Load of clothes is still damp at the end of one cycle

  • Fabric is very hot after drying, or has a musty smell

  • Visible lint gathered around the duct opening (outside)

A dryer and vent in good condition should not be showing any of these telltale signs of trouble.

How Often Should a Dryer Vent Be Cleaned?

Some households only use their machine once per week, while others run it multiple times per day, so it's hard to pinpoint the exact length of time you can go without cleaning. However, a general rule of thumb for one family is to have it cleaned out once per year to keep it running safely and effectively. A large family that goes through lots of laundry may need cleaning as frequently as every six months, while an apartment building with shared laundry facilities will need cleaning services even more often than that on a regular basis.

Mr. Handyman is Your Local, Trusted Dryer Vent Cleaner in Fairfax

If it's been more than a year since your duct was cleaned, or you've noticed signs of trouble, it's time for professional dryer vent cleaning service. Rely on the pros at Mr. Handyman of Fairfax and Eastern Loudoun Counties to get the job done right so you can have peace of mind.

Give us a call today at 703-962-1202 or request service online. We'd love the opportunity to show you what we can do to improve your home and make your life easier!