Dryer Vent Cleaning: Avoid Fires & Gas Leaks
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Dryer vents are all too often overlooked and not given a lot of thought – out of sight, out of mind, right? Unfortunately, failing to have these vents professionally cleaned and maintained can invite some serious threats to your household, as well as dryer inefficiency. So, if your clothes aren’t drying and you’re ready to invest in a new appliance, don’t drive to the store just yet… make sure your vents aren’t clogged up first.
If you live in San Antonio, Boerne, New Braunfels, Seguin, Canyon Lake, or anywhere else in our wide service area, the crew at Wolfman Chimney & Fireplace can help you out.
Need chimney services, as well? We offer it all – from sweepings to repair work to new installations – so don’t wait to trust our crew for it all.
How Often Should I Schedule Dryer Vent Cleanings?
Dryer vent cleanings should be performed every year by a trained and certified chimney sweep.
This is best practice for avoiding bigger threats and hazards down the line. Keep in mind, though, that if your dryer sees a lot of use throughout the year, scheduling these cleanings more often (like two or three times per year) may be the better route.
Fortunately, if you already rely on us for chimney inspections, you can hire us for this service too. Don’t deal with the hassle of calling around to multiple companies – make us your go-to crew for it all.
How Can I Know if My Dryer Vents Need Cleaning?
Not sure whether you need a cleaning or if it can be put off for a later date? We’ve got some good questions to consider.
- When was your last cleaning? If it’s been over a year – or if you can’t remember the last time it was – then get one on the books to be on the safe side. From there, you can put yourself on a more consistent schedule.
- How efficiently is your dryer running? Are your clothes not drying after one cycle? If you’re running your dryer two or three times to finally get things dry, then something’s not right – and clogged vents are a common culprit for this.
- Does your laundry room feel hot? If your laundry room seems unusually warm or humid after your dryer cycle ends, it usually indicates that things are overheating. De-clogging your vents will ensure proper airflow, so this issue can be avoided.
- Does your laundry room smell musty? If your laundry room smells hot or musty, this is another warning sign of clogged vents. Again, things are likely not venting properly, causing odors and heat to linger.
- Is lint in areas it shouldn’t be? If you find lint escaping your lint trap or in the dryer with your clothes, then something isn’t operating like it should be. If your vents are clogged and the lint has nowhere else to go, it’s gonna end up in places it shouldn’t be.
- Do your clothes seem too hot after a cycle? There’s nothing like fresh warm clothes right out of the dryer, but do your clothes seem exceptionally hot – almost hard to touch? This isn’t a good sign – get a cleaning scheduled right away.
- Is your vent hood damaged? Is the vent opening to the outside damaged or stuck? This could be because debris has built up so much that it’s no longer functional. Get it replaced right away – and get that dryer vent cleaning on the books.
In the end, if you’re not sure… schedule a cleaning. It never hurts to get this maintenance done, and once it’s complete, you can get yourself on a more regular cleaning schedule, based on your household’s needs.
What Are the Risks Associated With Clogged Vents?
It’s clear there are hazards associated with clogged dryer vents, but what exactly are these?
- Dryer Fires: Dirty vents are the leading cause of dryer fires in the country. You’re essentially combining an extremely flammable material (i.e. lint) with an appliance that’s overheating – the outcome here isn’t too hard to predict.
- House Fires: Did you know that dryer fires are even more common than chimney fires? And once flames kick off in the laundry room, they can easily spread, if not quickly noted and addressed. (Note: This is why you shouldn’t leave your dryer running when you leave the house.)
- Carbon Monoxide Leaks: If fumes produced by the fire cannot effectively escape, you’ll run the risk of carbon monoxide circling back and entering your home. Be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home to reduce the risk of exposure.
- Inefficiency: While not necessarily life-threatening, low efficiency levels can lead to wear and tear on your clothes and higher-than-normal energy bills – both of which will affect your household budget.
- Shorten Dryer Lifespan: Again, while not life-threatening, this does have a significant impact on your livelihood. A harder-working dryer results in more wear and tear overall, which will warrant a replacement sooner, rather than later.
Here’s the deal. We know that booking annual dryer vent cleanings is another investment for you that affects both your schedule and budget. But the alternative to this – i.e. house fires, gas leaks, wear on your clothes, etc. – is going to have a way bigger impact on your calendar and bank account.
This is a piece of maintenance that is well worth putting some effort into. The best part is, we handle the hard part – all you have to do is give us a call!
Does Cleaning My Lint Trap Make a Difference?
The majority of your lint gets blocked from your dryer vents by hitting the dryer’s lint trap first. But if your lint trap is clogged up from past cycles, you’re going to run into problems, and your dryer’s efficiency will suffer as a result. It’ll be forced to work longer and harder, leading to higher energy costs and longer drying cycles, and your vents will start filling up quickly too.
How often should you clean your lint trap?
After every load. That’s right – after each and every one. We know this adds an additional step to an already busy laundry/cleaning routine, but it’s a quick and easy one – and well worth it, when you look at the end payoffs.
Not sure how to clean off your lint trip? It’s simple. Most of these are either located on top of the dryer or right inside the door. Just pull yours out, then gently scrape off the layer of lint that has built up with your hands. Then, stick it back in and let your dryer run.
Should I wash my lint trap?
Many wonder about whether or not they can actually wash their lint trap with water… Is this good for it or is it something that could cause damage – and should therefore be avoided?
Washing your lint trap with soap and water is actually a great practice to implement into your cleaning routine! Over time, the chemicals in your dryer sheets and other wrinkle-removing products can clog these pores up. Only… they’re practically invisible, so noting their presence isn’t so simple. But by giving your lint trap a thorough, yet gentle, washing, you help keep things open, so that air can sufficiently escape through.
Just be sure to allow it time to completely dry before putting it back to work in your dryer.
What Can I Do to Lower Lint Buildup?
Can you lower the amount of lint buildup in your dryer to help extend the time between needed dryer vent cleanings? There are some tips we can recommend. Although, despite how well you implement these, we still urge you to invest in annual cleanings. That said, if you’re finding yourself booking 2 or 3 cleanings a year, these tips could lower those numbers.
- Clean your lint trap. The more your lint trap builds up, the more your lint will escape to other areas – namely your dryer vents.
- Clean your outdoor vent cap. The next time you head outside your home, whether you’re leaving to run errands or just grabbing your mail, check your vent cap – where your dryer expels its fumes outside. These can clog up quickly, which would then encourage buildup in your vents.
- Replace your accordion-style ductwork. These foil ductwork systems are all-too-common in households – and they’re also much more prone to clogs than a smoother, more rigid option. They’re also more likely to get smashed or damaged.
- Don’t neglect your dryer. If your dryer is experiencing some type of malfunction or issue, don’t wait to invest in needed repairs. This leads to inefficiency, which means more cycles will need to be run – and, as a result, more lint accumulation and buildup will occur.
- Replace your dryer. Unfortunately, sometimes excessive lint buildup comes down to an old and outdated dryer that needs to be replaced. The good news is that there are many high-efficiency models on the market today, so your next one should excel in terms of efficiency!
Questions about any of our recommendations and services? Reach out – we’re here for homeowners in San Marcos, Kyle, Austin, Schertz, Spring Branch, Helotes, and more. We’d be more than happy to answer your questions and get you where you need to be.
Can I Clean My Dryer Vent Myself?
We strongly urge against this. Like with chimney sweepings, there are kits out there that promote DIY dryer vent cleanings and make claims about how much easier and more affordable it is to bypass help from a professional.
Yet, there are a few big issues with this:
1. For one, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to miss spots, especially if your vents have lots of turns and bends. That means, you might be living with a false sense of security thinking your vents are good to go – when in reality there are still risks present.
2. Along those same lines, using the cleaning tools incorrectly can oftentimes make matters worse. Rather than pushing lint out, homeowners using these tools have been known to simply pack the lint in more – actually creating a clog, rather than clearing debris out.
3. Another risk is injury to yourself or others. Doing any type of home maintenance that you’re not well-versed in can invite injury, and cleaning your dryer vent without implementing proper safety precautions can lead to poor indoor air quality too.
4. Finally, there’s the risk of system damage. Again, when these tools are not used properly, you can experience damage to your vents, which will mean investing more of your time and money into repairs later on down the line.
In the end, there’s a reason the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) created an entire program for certifying dryer exhaust technicians. There’s a lot to know about completing the process correctly and safely, and since the aim of this institution is to ensure homeowners nationwide stay safer, they knew a certification process was something that was definitely needed.
By investing in care from a professional from the very start, many find that this actually saves them more money over time, despite the fact that DIY methods are initially cheaper.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Schedule Dryer Vent Cleanings?
We wouldn’t say there’s a “best” time to get this maintenance done. As long as you’re doing it consistently (i.e. once per year), as long as it’s getting done, we’re happy! That said, many like to book their dryer vent cleanings at the same time as their chimney inspections to get both types of annual maintenance completed and done with at the same time.
And fortunately for folks in Austin, Schertz, Spring Branch, Helotes, or anywhere else nearby, we’re equipped, trained, and certified to handle both of these services for you. We’ll get the job done right, so you can stress less all year long.
Just remember – some dryers see a lot more work, like if you have a bigger family or an especially active household. This might mean you’ll want to get your dryer vent cleaning on the calendar twice per year. Again, it’s not as important to get these done during a certain time of year, as long as they’re done consistently.
How Much Do Dryer Vent Cleanings Cost?
Well, there’s not exactly an easy answer to this one – it all depends on the length of the vent, how accessible it is, and more. If you’re looking for an estimate, we encourage you to give us a call to discuss your options – we’d be happy to offer some guidance and input!
One thing is for sure, though – putting off this maintenance is going to cost you more overtime than investing in it. How so?
- Your dryer will experience more wear, meaning a replacement will be needed sooner than you’d expect.
- Your clothes will wear out sooner from being dried over and over.
- If a fire does occur, you’ll have some major home repairs to invest in.
- If people are injured in a fire or due to a gas leak, you’ll have medical bills to pay.
- Your energy bills will increase from running your dryer more often.
How Can I Tell if My Dryer Vent Was Properly Installed?
First things first… did you trust a professional for the job? If not, there’s a good chance things were done incorrectly.
Now, if you recently moved into a home and have no idea if a professional was hired for the job or not, here are a few things you can keep an eye out for.
- Material type: Plastic or vinyl ducting that’s more rigid, as opposed to smooth and seamless, isn’t ideal and could indicate that the person installing it wasn’t well-versed in this field. Or it could mean that your ducting was installed a long time ago and should be replaced.
- Vent length: Venting that’s too long will increase your risk of experiencing hazards and decrease overall efficiency. Pros know to keep the length as short as possible – as well as minimize the amount of kinks or bends.
- Venting location: Venting should be located on an exterior home wall, and it shouldn’t be blocked or crowded by any other objects or appliances in your household.
- Secure connections: Leaks in your ventwork is obviously a big no-no, as this can increase the risk of fire hazards and gas leaks significantly. If yours keeps coming apart, there’s a good chance it wasn’t installed correctly from the beginning.
A properly installed dryer vent is essential for the safety of your home and the efficiency of your appliance. Proper installation prevents the buildup of lint and other debris that can cause blockages, reduce airflow, and increase the risk of fire. If you need help, call us out for the highest level of care possible.
What Is the Best Type of Dryer Vent Material to Use?
Vents of the past were typically constructed from a plastic or foil accordion-style material. Nowadays, though, experts will note that this is less than ideal as it easily kinks and becomes damaged. It’s also more prone to sagging, and the chances of experiencing clogs will increase, too, as lint accumulates in those frequent ridges.
Because of this, we suggest investing in more rigid and smooth vent styles made from reliable materials like aluminum or galvanized steel. This will give fumes a streamlined path out of your home, and it will minimize your risk of experiencing buildup that can lead to gas leaks and fires.
We also urge our customers to have these vents installed by an experienced professional, as improper installation will still invite risks, inefficiency, and a long list of hazards.
How Does a Sweep Become a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician?
Like with chimneys, dryer vent maintained isn’t something that’s nationally regulated – meaning anyone could buy a few tools, purchase a business license, and deem themselves an expert. That’s why – as with chimney maintenance – looking for proper credentials is a must for avoiding an increased risk of hazards and system damage.
Cue the Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician (C-DET) credential from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).
This is the only nationally recognized credential for dryer vent cleaning services and, similar to the CSIA certification process, it requires going through a thorough and in-depth examination process. Techs need to buy the appropriate learning materials, study up, then take the time to take and pass the exam in order to become certified.
Does this require signing a Code of Ethics like the CSIA certification?
You bet. The CSIA doesn’t want techs to know what to do, but how to do it with high levels of integrity. So, a certification isn’t official until the Code of Ethics is signed. When it comes to delivering quality care, holding high standards is a must. Some of the things included in this code are:
- rendering services in “an honest and fair manner” – which means no deceptive practices or unfair statements
- complying with local building codes and manufacturer guidelines and instructions
- answering customer questions and educating them on proper safety tips and venting practices
- acting respectful and professional while rendering services to clients
- …and more
Does the C-DET credential need to be renewed?
Yep – every three years. Like with the chimney industry, techniques and materials can improve and change as we learn more about dryer vent care. Because of this re-certifying is essential for staying up-to-date and in-the-know.
Get the Quality Care You Deserve By Scheduling With Wolfman Chimney
At Wolfman Chimney & Fireplace, we make the safety of our customers the top priority. Which is why we’re happy to extend our services past chimneys and fireplaces – and to your dryer vents, as well. If there’s one thing we know about, it’s the importance of keeping fire hazards to a minimum and doing everything possible to avoid the devastation a house fire can cause.
We have Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians (C-DET) on our team, who are experienced, knowledgeable, and know the ins and outs of your venting system better than anyone else.
We’d love to get started at your home soon. If you’re ready to get your dryer vent cleaning on the books, call us at 830-620-9130 or you can reach out to us online today.