Under normal conditions, a dryer vent is supposed to direct the heat away from your dryer, but sometimes dryers stop functioning properly. This is when they can break down, or even become a fire hazard. Keep in mind that regular dryer vent cleaning helps to prevent these issues. With that said, here are 10 Dryer Vent Warning Signs that you may have on your hands.
1) Longer Drying Times
If you’ve noticed that drying times are becoming increasingly longer than usual, this is a sure sign that your vents are getting clogged. What happens is that lint fiber gradually collects in these vents and slowly builds up over time. When the air is restricted by this buildup of debris, it will cause your machine to trap more moisture on the inside. These vents will need a professional cleaning in order for the drying time to return to normal. Without proper maintenance, this can lead to the need for an expensive replacement.
2) Heating Issues
Heating issues can also be a problem if you don’t schedule regular dryer vent cleaning. This can cause your machine to become so hot while it’s in use that it can damage your clothes. As a result, synthetic fabrics, like nylon, acrylic, and polyester, can even start to melt. But the biggest danger comes from a dryer that overheats so much that it causes a fire. Issues with the heating element can also result in the eventual failure of your machine.
Of course, another concern is pulling clothes out of a dryer that are still hot to the touch. Often they can feel slightly damp and can cause steam burns if they’re too hot to handle. This is a serious sign that tells you it’s time to book a professional dryer vent cleaning.
3) Overheating Shutdown Problems
Clothing dryers are designed to have a built-in switch that is triggered if the motor senses it’s becoming overheated. A blocked dryer vent limits the airflow to the point that it will start tripping the machine, making it stop so it has enough time to cool down. If you don’t know this, there can be a bigger issue when you simply restart the appliance before it’s cool enough to safely operate. If the dryer continues to overheat, there’s a risk for an electrical fire, caused by the motor becoming too hot. As you can imagine, this is a dangerous situation.
4) Mold or Mildew Smells
Since lint is mostly cotton fiber, it will act as a sponge for moisture. The levels can become higher as hot, moist air tries to push through a blockage. This moisture isn’t able to effectively dry out and can become a hidden, moldy mess. The smell of mold and mildew can spread inside your venting tube and cause odors that get into the clothes you place in the dryer. Laundry should smell clean and fresh, so this moldy odor can be confusing.
5) A Burnt Smell
If you notice a burnt smell from your dryer, this is a dryer vent warning signs your dryer vent is clogged. When too much lint builds up inside the dryer, it will give off a weird burnt smell. Of course, it can also be a sign of a failing motor or belt. Be sure to remove your laundry from the machine and call a professional who can troubleshoot the source of the problem.
6) Crushed Dryer Hose
If you haven’t checked behind your dryer in a while—or ever, take a peek and make sure that the hoses between the wall and the dryer aren’t being pinched. This is an issue because the restricted airflow is a hazard. The company that handles your dryer vent cleaning can help resolve this situation.
7) Can Dryer Sheets Cause a Fire?
There have been some claims that fabric softener sheets can cause the heating element to fail in your dryer, increasing the threat of a fire. But is this really true? While there isn’t any evidence to back up this claim, liquid fabric softener can add to the flammability of certain fabrics.
8) Bird Nests
While it may not happen very often, birds sometimes are able to build a nest in termination hoods that are left uncovered. This is a problem that needs a quick fix. A professional can inspect your dryer as well as its setup to make sure everything is secure from wildlife using it as a nesting site.
9) Lack of Lint in the Trap
Dryers have a special trap that’s designed to collect the lint on your laundry. We all know that it needs to be cleaned out after each cycle, but what if there’s never any lint in the trap anymore? In this case, an obstruction is probably causing lint to become trapped in your machine. This can cause a fire, so be sure to call a specialist for a dryer vent cleaning as soon as possible.
10) Higher Electricity Bills
A rising utility bill is an unpleasant surprise. If you notice that your electricity costs are going up, your dryer may be to blame for the hike. When this appliance isn’t functioning properly, it has to work harder and use more wattage to dry your laundry. If there are blocks, the motor needs to try harder to make up for those air blockages. You’ll likely need to put your laundry through more than once to get it truly dry. The result is an unexpected increase in your monthly electric bill. Dryer maintenance will actually save you money in the long run.
Schedule a Dryer Vent Cleaning
If you notice any of these Dryer Vent Warning Signs, your safest option is always to call a professional who can make sure your dryer isn’t a fire hazard. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a risk if a dryer isn’t installed correctly, or maintained over the years. At The Irish Sweep, we have the experience you need for such an important job. If you’re in the Alameda area, give us a call at (510) 521-4088. We’re available to answer any questions you have about dryer or fireplace safety in your home. You can also view our customer testimonials by clicking this link.