Have you ever pulled a load of laundry out of your dryer, only to find that it’s still damp? Or maybe you notice a slight burning aroma coming from the laundry room while the dryer’s running? These, among a few other things, can be signs of an issue with your dryer. While other, more technically challenging problems may be the cause, the most likely issue is a clogged dryer vent. Read further to best understand the signs a dryer vent needs to be cleaned and how you can identify them.
What is a dryer vent, and why is it important to keep it clear?
Your clothes dryer is a relatively simple machine. Its two main functions are to heat the inside of the drum, where your wet clothes go, and to then tumble the contents by spinning said drum. This allows the hot air to circulate amongst your clothes, meaning you wind up with a basket full of warm, dry laundry, and not clothes that are still half wet. However, all this hot air and steam needs to go somewhere in order for your laundry to actually dry, which is where your dryer vent comes in. The vent is essentially an air duct that allows the hot air and steam from your dryer to escape, normally leading to an exterior duct somewhere on the outside of your home.
There are a number of reasons you don’t want a clogged vent. For one, drying your clothes will take much longer, costing you time and money. However, a clogged dryer vent is not only an inconvenience when you’re trying to finish your laundry, it’s also one of the biggest fire hazards in any home. Because of the high temperatures coming out of your clothes dryer, and the fact that the vent is most likely to be clogged with fine, dry, highly flammable lint, neglecting to keep the vent clean is an easy way to wind up with a drum full of scorched clothes, or worse—a house fire.
How to find your dryer vent
Looking at the back of your dryer, there should be an exhaust outlet about 4 inches or so in diameter. This is where your dryer connects to the ductwork in your home, which eventually leads to the outdoor vent that allows the hot air to escape.
Clogs are most likely to occur closer to the dryer, rather than all the way at the exterior outlet. However, if it’s been a long time since it was clear, you need to call a professional for more extensive cleaning.
Signs of a clogged dryer vent
Now that you know the basics of what a dryer vent is and where it can be found, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of a clogged vent. There are a number of signs that point to this issue, and a few of them we run into the most frequently. If none of these match your problem exactly, we recommend reaching out to our qualified repair technicians.
- Clothes are taking an abnormally long time to dry
This is one of the most surefire signs of a clogged vent. Because all that hot air needs to escape in order for the clothes inside to become dry, a still-wet load of laundry after a regular cycle is a telltale sign. With modern, energy-efficient machines, a load of laundry should be taking between 30 and 50 minutes to dry, depending on the size of the load.
When the vent is clogged, your unit essentially needs to work twice as hard to expend all that hot steam, which is likely getting stuck in the clogged vent outlet at the back of your machine. If your clothes are taking longer than normal to dry, there are a few things to double check. Namely, are you forgetting to clear the lint trap before every cycle? Alternatively, are you overloading your dryer with clothes? If the answer to both these questions is ‘no,’ you likely have a clogged vent on your hands.
- Excess heat is coming from the dryer unit itself
Another common sign of a clogged vent is excess heat coming from the dryer itself. This usually means that the drum is full of hot air that isn’t able to properly escape the appliance via the vent. If the vent is so clogged that no air can escape, your dryer will continue to attempt to dry and clear the drum of steam, meaning an above-average utility bill at best, or a fire at worst. Your dryer will of course be warm during a normal cycle, but pay attention to see if there’s excess amounts of real heat coming off the unit. If so, you need to get your dryer vent cleaned.
- A burning smell when the dryer is running
One of the more immediately concerning signs of a clogged vent is a burnt or scorched smell coming from the unit during a cycle. This is usually because the dryer is overworking itself to dry your laundry. The dry lint that’s clogging the vent is usually the first thing to burn, but even if your laundry isn’t burnt, the scorched smell can be difficult to get out. If you continue to use the dryer without clearing the vent, however, the clothes themselves may get scorched as well. Never ignore a burning smell coming from your dryer, as the unit should not be used until it’s been cleared and repaired—not only for your convenience, but for your safety as well.
- Excessive amounts of lint buildup after a cycle
It’s normal for the lint trap, or lint filter, on your unit to have a layer after a cycle. However, if you’re finding that it’s full of an excessive amount of lint after running your clothes through the dryer, it could point to a clogged vent. Sometimes lint will even start to build up on the outside of the filter, or elsewhere in the dryer or laundry room. If you notice this, we recommend hang-drying your clothes until you’re sure the dryer vent is clear of lint or other debris.
Keeping your dryer in good condition
A dryer vent is a small but important part of your unit’s overall function. If it’s not kept clear, it can lead to a number of problems including frustratingly long dry times, skyrocketing utility bills, ruined clothes, or even fire. Sidestep all of these problems by keeping an eye out for these telltale signs of a clogged dryer vent.
If you need help with getting proper dryer vent cleaning, or if you’re not sure the vent is your problem, or if you simply have other questions about clothes dryer repair and maintenance, contact the experts at Starfix today!
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