Troubleshooting Basic Dryer Vent Duct Problems

A close up on a dryer.

A dryer vent duct is crucial to the efficient operation of your dryer. If the duct malfunctions or comes into disrepair, you may experience the following issues.

Clothes Take Longer to Dry

Dirty ducts and filters are often the cause of this and most problems with dryers. The most important thing you can do to extend the life of your dryer and to improve its efficiency is to clean the lint from the dryer and dryer vent duct regularly. Cleaning the filter before each load is a basic cleaning task that should be completed faithfully.

About once a month, remove the filter from the dryer and use your vacuum hose to clean the lint from the ductwork inside the dryer. If the outside dryer vent duct is accessible, you can use the vacuum or shop vac to clean out the outer duct as far as you can reach. If the back of the dryer is accessible, removing the hose from the back of the dryer and using a shop vac to clean it out will give you an even better chance of removing the dangerous lint. For those with a long duct or one that is inaccessible from the outside, detaching the hose from the back of the dryer and using a leaf blower to blow the lint out of the line can be very effective.

There are also brushes made specifically to clean dryer vent ducts, and these brushes will loosen built-up lint and detach it from the wall, making it easier to vacuum up or blow out. The less lint that is built up in the dryer, the faster clothing will dry and the more accurately the dryer temperature controls will function. Additionally, the fire risk lowers the cleaner the dryer is.

Clothing is Hot at the End of the Cycle

A laundry room with a washer and dryer.

While this may be caused by lint-filled ducts, if you have cleaned the lint filter and the ducts, you may have waxy build up in the dryer as the result of fabric softener sheets.

These residue left from the sheets can coat the lint basket and cause it to stop up, restricting or stopping the flow of air. To test if your lint filter is clogged, simply try running water through it. If it doesn’t flow through rapidly, you likely have a residue build up. Clean the mesh with a soft brush and dish soap, then rinse and dry it thoroughly before putting it back into your dryer for use.

Overheating Ducts

A dryer with clothes in it.

In the past, a flexible, white plastic hose was commonly used for dryer vent ducts. These ducts often overheated, and this sometimes led to fires, particularly when they were not cleaned effectively. If your dryer has flexible white ducting to its vent, you should replace it with either flexible metal ducting or rigid aluminum ducting. Rigid, smooth ducting allows the least amount of lint build up and is the safest system.

The House Heats Up

Check your dryer duct system. Is it ducted into the basement? This isn’t advised since it is not particularly healthy and may cause humidity damage to items in the basement. If your dryer is not ducted into a basement, see that all the connections are still firm and the air is going through the ducts. The fasteners can work their way loose, leading to abuild-upp of lint and humidity behind the dryer.