Many homeowners overlook the importance of properly maintaining their dryer vent. In addition to negatively affecting how well their dryer works, it can also increase the chance of a fire starting. In the U.S. alone, there are hundreds of thousands of house fires, many of which are the result of dryer vents that weren't cleaned or properly maintained. The bottom line is that you have to invest your time and energy into keeping these vents safe and free of any lint or debris to reduce the chance of a fire starting.
What Type of Vent Duct Should I Use
Recent updates in national building codes now require metal duct work for all dryer machines. In the past, vinyl and other non-metallic materials were used, but these contributed to the spreading of fires; therefore, building codes were changed to better protect homeowners and families living in the U.S. If your home is still using a vinyl dryer duct, you should immediately replace it with an aluminum or some other type of metal material. You can find them available for sale at most home improvement stores, and replacing one isn't a difficult process.
Cleaning The Dryer Vent
After several months of using a dryer, lint will slowly begin to develop inside the vent where it sits and accumulates. This creates a fire hazard since the warm air travels directly through it to reach the exterior of your home. Thankfully, cleaning a dryer vent is quick and easy and should only take a couple minutes of your time. Start by reaching behind the dryer and unplugging it from the wall. Next, look for the metal bracelet piece that's securing the vent to the dryer and take it off. You should now have access to the inside of the vent. There are a couple different ways to clean it out, but the easiest is to suck out the lint using a shop vac. Just place the wand from a vacuum cleaner as far as it will go into the vent and turn it on the highest setting. Move it around to help suck up any surrounding lint and debris before turning it off. Secure the vent back on to your dryer, plug it into the electrical outlet and you're good to go! Depending on how much you use your dryer, you should only need to clean the vent about twice a year. I recommend getting into the habit of doing once in the winter and once in the summer. This will keep your dryer working in optimal condition and reduce the chance of a fire starting.