Improperly kept dryer vents are among the leading causes of fires in modern homes. Dryer vents accumulate lint and other small flammable fibers that have been shed by old clothes. It is therefore vitally important that when installing a new dryer it is connected to the proper vent. You wouldn't want your dryer venting lint into your heating ducts!
A dryer vent needs to be connected directly to the outside. The humid air that is released through the dryer will cause whatever it is released into to become moist. For example: if the dryer is vented directly into your home it will cause a flurry of moist lint to cover your walls and floor. In time, this will cause mold and mildew and stink. If your dryer is a gas dryer you are at a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, as the dryer's exhaust system needs to be ventilated outside. One way to play it safe is to install a carbon monoxide detector near the dryer.
Improperly maintained dryers and improperly installed dryers will also reduce the efficiency of your appliance. If you realize that it takes two or more cycles to dry your clothes completely, it may be time to check the vent for a buildup of lint. If the moist air inside the dryer cannot get out, it will keep your clothes wet.
It is also important to clean the screen after every load. A clogged screen will cause your vent to back up and result in more loads being required, more electricity to be used, and your machine will require twice the amount of energy to do the same amount of work. To avoid this, use smooth ducting as opposed to foil ducting because the foil ducting accumulates lint at a much faster rate. Also, keep an eye on the vent itself, and make certain that too much lint isn't blocking the passage of air outside.
How to Know When it's Time to Clean the Vent
As previously stated, an increase in the amount of time it takes to dry clothing is a good indication that your vent is backed up. Also, if the room in which the dryer is located feels extraordinarily hot and humid, it is because your dryer isn't venting properly. You will have to clean your dryer vents at least once a year to prevent damaging your property.
Dryer Vents: The Do's and Don'ts
It is important to remember when installing a dryer vent that you want to ventilate the air using the smallest amount of tubing possible. This is because cumbersome and overly elbowed venting clogs faster and is more difficult to maintain. Keep the duct runs as straight as possible. Always avoid using bending or foil ducting for the same reason. The trick is create as short a trip as possible for the air within your dryer to the outside world, 4 inch tubes are the standard for such ducting.
How to Clean Your Dryer Vent
Assuming that your are using smooth aluminum duct, cleaning your vent should be relatively easy. For this you will need a vent brush will cost you anywhere from 30 to 40 dollars for a 20 foot brush. The longer the brush, the more expensive it will be. Another fine reason to run your ducts as directly as possible, but this is not always impossible.
Be certain to unplug the dryer before disconnecting the vent from the dryer, then simply brush out the lint. If you have been noticing problems with your dryer, you should see them quickly disappear!