Checked Your Dryer Vent Lately?

So what did you do Tuesday night after work? If you were like me, you cleaned your dryer vent. I know that doesn’t sound like much fun, and I sure hadn’t planned on it, but I’m glad I did.

Hopefully we all know that lint can build up in the dryer vent and that it should be checked periodically to avoid the risk of a house fire.  I do check it from time to time, more often in the summer because I’m outside doing yard work.  Now that winter is here, however, I’m less likely to pass by the vent unless I make a special effort to do so.  That led to a knock on my door Tuesday night just as I started using the treadmill (trying to restart the exercise routine).  Our neighbors are having some work done in their house and the contractor was moving materials in the space between our houses. He noticed our vent outlet appeared to be blocked and wanted to make sure we aware of it.

I thanked him, grabbed a flashlight, and went to investigate. Sure enough the outlet was jammed with a big wad of lint. I cleared the blockage, but the airflow was noticeably reduced from what it should be.  So back inside I went, turned off the dryer (post-vacation laundry marathon was going on), and pulled the washer and dryer out for a look. What I found was a lot of lint, a small hole in the flexible connector between the dryer and the wall, and a sinking feeling that I was going to be crawling behind thd dryer, disconnecting ductwork, and getting covered in lint soon.

One trip to the hardware store and a couple hours later, we were back in business. The actual ducts from the dryer to the outside were in good shape, but this was a good reminder that I need to make an effort to check on this regularly. It isn’t enough to rely on simply walking past the vent now and then to notice when it requires attention.

In 1998, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires which resulted in 20 deaths and 370 injuries. (CPSC Document 5022)

So… when was the last time you checked your dryer vent?