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3 Tips to Have a Safer, More Efficient Clothes Dryer

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Your home clothes dryer is a practical appliance that makes your life easier. When neglected, your clothes dryer can become the source of high energy bills and even a home fire. Here are three ways to ensure your clothes dryer is efficient and safe.

1. Replace the Flexible Dryer Exhaust Duct

Your dryer's exhaust duct is the only way out for all of the heated, wet air created by the drying action of the appliance and your heated, tumbled clothes. The terminal end of dryer duct expels the moist air to the exterior of your home.

In some cases, the exhaust duct must be bent or curved to reach an exterior wall or roof. The bends and curves in a dryer duct are prime spots for dust, moisture, and lint to take hold as the dryer air flows through the duct. Heavy buildup of lint and debris in a dryer duct is a fire risk in the event the dryer is overheated and sends sparks through the dryer duct.

In the past, dryer exhaust ducts were made of spiral-ribbed plastic or Mylar. The ridges in plastic and flexible Mylar exhaust ducts collect dust, humidity, and debris in the same way any bends and curves in the duct collect lint and debris.

If your dryer duct is made of a soft, flexible ribbed material, get a rigid metal dryer duct with a smooth internal surface to replace a ridged duct. The dryer duct should be at least 4 inches in diameter and made of galvanized steel or aluminum. Ensure that the joints in the dryer duct run in the same direction as the dryer exhaust flow.

2. Keep Your Dryer Duct Length Reasonable

Extremely long dryer ducts are sometimes necessary when laundry rooms are located in the middle of the home. However, a dryer duct over 35 feet in length is difficult to clean and monitor. Unless your dryer manufacturer approves use of a longer dryer duct, keep your dryer duct under 35 feet in total length.

Bends and curves in extra-long dryer vents restrict airflow, so attempt to run a new dryer duct in as straight a line from the appliance to the external vent as you can. In addition:

  • Reduce the maximum length of your dryer duct by 2.5 feet for every 45-degree bend in the duct.

  • Reduce the maximum length of the dryer duct by 5 feet for every 90-degree bend in the duct.

If your dryer duct is exceptionally long, you can run transition ducts made of flexible material in some portions of the exhaust duct. Transitional ducts are safest when they're less than 8 feet in length.

At the end of the dryer duct, ensure that a back draft damper is installed. The damper keeps lint and humid exhaust from flowing back into your home. The damper also prevents small pests and pets from climbing into the dryer duct. Never put screens on the end of your dryer duct, since screens collect lint.

3. Know the Signs of a Clogged Dryer Duct

As noted above, a clogged dryer duct is a fire hazard. Since hot air is not expelled from your dryer when the exhaust vent is clogged, your dryer is prone to overheat. When the dryer overheats, it can catch fire under the appliance. Sparks from mechanical failure or an appliance fire flow out of the dryer exhaust duct and may ignite lint and debris trapped in the clogged dryer vent.

In many cases, your dryer gives you clear warning signs when the exhaust vent is clogged. Since a clogged exhaust vent restricts airflow throughout the appliance's operation, your clothes take longer to dry when the exhaust vent is blocked by lint and dust buildup.

Additional signs of a clogged dryer vent include the following:

  • Clothes feel hotter than normal at the dryer cycle's end.

  • Outside surfaces of the dryer are extra hot to the touch.

  • Laundry room air is hotter and moister than usual.

  • Burnt, odd, or smoky smell is in laundry area.

  • Damper dryer duct end that barely opens or won't open during dryer operation.

  • Moisture stains near areas where dryer exhaust duct runs.

When your dryer shows any of the above signs, schedule an inspection and cleaning of your dryer duct along with an HVAC-duct inspection and cleaning to be doubly safe in the colder months.

A clean dryer duct is safer and lowers your total energy costs. When your dryer doesn't have to work as hard to handle your laundry demands, the appliance doesn't consume as much electricity and/or gas.

If your dryer takes a long time to dry your clothes, contact our team at AirGanic for a complete dryer duct inspection and cleaning. We service dryer ducts for homeowners in the Seattle area including customers throughout the Edmonds, Washington region.