So when was the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? The little on inside the dryer is great but that's not the one I'm talking about. I'm talking about the one that vents to the outside.
Checking the outside vent on occasion is important for two reasons. One because if it does not open or is clogged your dryer will be extremely inefficient and two and most importantly because a clogged dryer vent can cause a fire.
This is what a dirty partially clogged outer dryer vent looks like:
Oh yeah that's mine yesterday when I checked it.
Most of the bigger home improvements we have made to our last two homes have been done by local firemen who do contracting work on the side. That in and of it's self is a great saver but I'll write about that another time. My reason for bringing it up now is that it was these great guys who installed my dryer vent when we moved in to this house and instilled upon me the importance of keeping it cleaned out. A clogged vent is apparently a big cause of fires around here in the winter as peoples vents get clogged and literally freeze shut from the cold.
I went out to check mine yesterday because although I do not use my dryer nearly as much as I did a few years ago I still use it enough to know that things that normally dry in 10 minutes were taking 20. I knew something was off and where the most likely source was. I was right as you can see my vent was nice and dirty.
The best way to clean it: The outside part of the vent is easy, a damp cloth should do it. The trickier part is cleaning the actual vent hose. I have found for me that the best way is to pull the hose away from the vent. They usually slide together and are held together with a clamp. Once you pull it apart take a wire coat hanger and flatten it out leaving the hook at the end. You can use the hook to pull out the big pieces and the rest of the hanger will work to scrape the gunk off the side walls of the hose. Usually after I do that I take the hose from my canister vacuum and vacuum out the rest. Attach the hose back to the vent and you should be good to go. Just a note the longer the vent hose the harder it will be to get it all out. My hose is very long and I have given up on getting it completely clean I just look to get he bulk of it out.
Today with a clean vent my loads are back to drying in their usual time. At this time of the year my electric bill is high enough with out an inefficient dryer.
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