Dryer Needs Cleaning Beyond Lint Trap

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April 05, 2011

You probably peel the lint out of your clothes dryer's lint trap after every load of laundry. But that's not enough to keep the appliance from posing a fire hazard for your home. Add a new more maintenance checks to your laundry-day routine, including:
  • Notice how long it takes the dryer to dry your clothes. If they're still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle, or if it's starting to take longer to dry clothes, your lint screen or exhaust duct is probably blocked.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct at least once a year. The duct is the coil that sends the hot dryer air to the outdoors. The vent is the hole where the hot air leaves the house. Both can get clogged with lint and overheat, send dirty, moist air back into your home, or even catch on fire. You might have to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer and from the vent to remove a blockage.
  • Sweep behind your dryer regularly. Lint can accumulate there and also underneath. Move the dryer and clean the back of it. This might be a job for a service technician rather than for a do-it-yourself.
  • If your exhaust duct is plastic or foil, replace it with a rigid or corrugated, semi-rigid metal duct. Plastic and foil are too flexible and trap lint easily. They're also easier to crush, which will prevent air from flowing through the vent.
  • Avoid throwing gasoline, oil or chemical-soiled clothes and towels into the dryer. Instead, wash them several times and line-dry them. If you have to use the dryer for them, choose the lowest setting, and remove them the minute the cycle is finished. Even washed-and-dried clothes that have come into contact with volatile chemicals can ignite. Best bet: Consider the clothes ruined and safely dispose of them.


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