Determining How and When You Need Dryer Vent Cleaning?

Keeping your home clean may seem like a simple task. However, there are some chores that you should not neglect and the key among them is cleaning your dryer vent. Most homeowners will clean off the lint trap and forget the vent or duct, which is an essential aspect of the venting system.

There’s a lot more than just cleaning the surface as the dryer vent houses lint. Clogging can be dangerous, as it can cause a fire hazard. Lint can cause sparks, leading to a fire and other hazards. Therefore, cleaning the entire system is the easiest way to protect your property and family.

Often, the dryer vent may run via the roof from the basement. Therefore, it’s impossible to decide when to clean it. If you’re wondering how to decide if you need dryer vent cleaning, keep reading as I dive deeper into the topic.

Signs that your dryer vent needs cleaning

Like most appliances, your dryer requires regular inspection and maintenance. Some red flags tell whether your dryer duct requires regular clean-up to ensure efficiency, power-saving, and prevent a fire.

#1 Clothes take longer to dry

Most people set sixty minutes for a total load and wait for the timer, hoping that the clothes will dry. However, if your dryer is taking too long to dry clothes, quite often, the problem is not with the dryer but the venting system.

The first sign that your dryer vent has clogged and needs cleaning is when the clothes take a lot of time before they dry. A clean duct and lint trap allows hot air to be emitted efficiently. At each cycle, you’ll discover that your clothes are not warm and dry. A dryer expels hot and moist air from the clothes for them to dry.

If lint blocks the pathway, the hot air stays inside the dryer and your garments will be moist. Even worse, bulkier clothes such as robes, winter jackets, curtains, and duvets will take more time to dry.

A clogged vent forces your dryer to use more energy which can increase your power bills. The reason being, your dryer will take more time in drying clothes hence it will use more energy. When this happens, the lifespan of your machine gradually decreases. Therefore, in the future, you’ll spend more money on maintenance or replacements.

#2 Your clothes are very hot

Since hot air is not leaving the dryer, your garments will be moist and hot. Also, when you touch the dryer, you’ll realize that the outside is very hot. It’s a worrying sign that something is wrong with the venting system. Before you conclude that your dryer could be faulty, you can check for clogging of lint inside the vent. Also, overworking your dryer can cause the element or the drum to overheat, and this reduces the lifespan of the machine.

#3 Mold build-up

A dryer vent blows the moist air from the dryer to the outside. When clogged with dirt, moisture may collect inside the vent and turn into small puddles or wet spots. With time, mold forms inside the vent, become sticky and are challenging to remove.

With time, hot air struggles to escape via the vent; finally, it goes back into the laundry room and the temperature rises. The moist air settles on the wall and with the time you’ll notice molds building up.

#4 Unusual smells

Is there an unpleasant smell coming from the laundry room? Or worse yet, do your clothes smell of burning plastic after using the dryer.

A dirty dryer vent can emit an unusual smell, and this is one of the earliest signs that it needs a cleanup. A blocked vent can cause foul air to collect inside the house instead of being vented outside. What this means is that as lint builds up in the exhaust, drum causing, or lint trap, it can ignite a fire and cause a burning smell.

At this point, it’s important to discontinue using the dryer and contact a professional. Cleaning the dryer duct allows bad smells to escape and reduce the lint of fire and mold build-up.

#5 The vet cover fails to open

Normally, the vent duct will expel hot outside air via an opening on the wall. Most people prefer extending the venting system to the roof to avoid disruptions.

Unfortunately, predators such as birds will build a nest up there and consequently block the vent opening. Failure to clean the vent will lead to the accumulation of dirt and clogging. The obstruction can cause the vent cover not to open and subsequently trap lint and other dirt. Debris on the outside is a clear sign that there’s more dirt inside and hence the need for an emergency clean-up exercise.

#6 Dryer shut down

A dirty vent is not desirable since it can reduce the efficiency of your dryer. As the situation persists, there will be a strain on the appliance leading to a total shutdown due to overworking. It can lead to additional costs such as taking your clothes to a Laundromat and replacing the dryer.

#7 Lint everywhere

Does the lint trap collect all lint from the dryer after a single load? The answer is an affirmative’ no. Some lint will get caught by the lint trap, while others will escape into the dryer vent. Over time, it will clog the vent and block hot air from the dryer.

Likewise, if you find lint on the walls, clothes, doorknobs, window panes, or the ceiling, then something is wrong with your dryer or the dryer vent. Remember, lint are tiny elements that can cause a fire when rubbing against surfaces. Therefore, lint everywhere should be a cause of worry. It’s a major warning sign that you need to inspect the entire venting system for malfunction.

It’s over one year since the last dryer vent clean up

If your dryer vent hasn’t been cleaned for more than a year, then it’s time to organize for a clean-up exercise. The advantage of hiring a professional to do the job is that they clean the entire system.

It’s important to have the vent cleaned every year as this boosts your dryer’s efficiency, saves electricity costs, and helps prevent fires. Also, it prevents exposure to carbon dioxide gas, which is poisonous.

If you can access the external vent, then clean-up is easy. You’ll need a couple of handy tools such as the lint brush, duct tape, damp cloth, and iron rod. However, sometimes lint can be located further down the venting pipe or there may be some bends and curves. In this case, you’ll need a venting kit that attaches to a vacuum cleaner or extension.

The advantage of hiring a professional is the use of specialized equipment to clean the entire system without accidentally damaging the duct.

For home cleaning, I recommend the Deflecto dryer vent cleaning kit, which is an incredibly long tool that can reach up to twelve feet inside the duct world. The best part is that you can use it manually or attach it to a vacuum or drill for a quick clean-up.

This kit features a four-inch brush head that rotates inside the vent to clear off lint in bends and curves.

If your family is large, there’s a chance that your dryer is a workhorse and the venting system is more advanced. Therefore, you’ll need to schedule a cleaning program more than once a year.

Likewise, if you use the dryer more often, you need to clean the vent three times a year. In a nutshell, there’s no rule on how many times you need to clean the venting pipe.


I recommend dryer vent inspection and cleaning once every year. For a small vent that passes via a wall to the outside, you can inspect with a beam of light. Also, the cleanup is easy since you only need a few handy tools to get the work done. However, some installations are complex, more so if the venting passes through the roof. Here, you’ll need a specialist to inspect using special equipment. Also, regular maintenance minimizes the wear and tear of your machine and repairs. In the end, it prevents hazardous fires, protects your home and family, and reduces your power bills.

If you’d like to book a maintenance schedule, contact us today and have the vent professionally inspected and cleaned.

I am a cleaning enthusiast and a writer for renowned cleaners guide sites. I am the Chief Executive Officer for All-City Janitorial and All-City Duct Cleaning. This is where I write about my exploits in detail to share my experience with everyone.

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