The short answer: because nobody wants to wake up to a fire.

Why Clean Your Dryer Vent

The National Fire Protection Agency stated that for each year between 2010 and 2014, roughly 15,970 home fires involved clothing dryers or washing machines. That comes to roughly $238 million in direct property damage per year, as well as several hundred injuries and a number of deaths.

Cleaning the lint catcher out is a standard must, but it doesn’t catch everything. What the lint catcher misses eventually builds up in the vent, recreating the exact same problems and risks with your dryer, just in a different place.

Lint and other debris build up in your dryer hose and vent duct after slipping through the lint catcher. This reduces airflow, backing up the exhaust gasses and eventually creating fires.

Knowing when you need to call in someone to clean out the dryer vent is a bit more tricky than cleaning the lint catcher, though. We’ve compiled a few warning signs to look for to know it’s time to get yours cleared out and ready to go again.

What to Look For

Keep an eye out for the following red flags.

Hot Clothing

If you’ve ever noticed that your clothing is extremely hot after drying, your dryer may need its vent cleaned. The same can be said for the outside of the dryer itself. This means the vent is not exhausting gas and hot air properly, and that heat is building up in the machine itself and increasing the temperature, potentially to the point of a fire.

Clothing Takes Longer to Dry

When a dryer vent is clogged, the time it takes to dry your clothing can triple. Dryers are designed to push out the hot moist air inside, allowing clothing to dry. If your dryer vent is blocked by lint or anything else, that air will stay in your dryer, making your clothes hot and moist. This is an easy one to catch, as you will notice that your clothes are hot, but still wet, when you take them out of the dryer.

Beyond the fire risk and increased hassle of drying your clothes, this issue directly affects the lifespan of your dryer. Like any other machine, it only lasts for so long. Once it reaches the maximum number of cycles it can complete, whether they successfully dried the clothes inside or not, that’s the end of it. So, if it takes more than one run to dry your clothes, be good to your dryer and have the vent cleaned.

The Vent Hood Flap Doesn’t Open Properly

If you see lint or debris either around the dryer hose or outside of the vent opening, the vent hose needs cleared. This means that so much lint has built up that it is quite literally bursting at the seams. The duct hood flap not opening like it should is another sign of the same problem.

A Burning Smell

If you notice a burning smell when running your dryer, lint buildup is probably the problem. It should be obvious that something is wrong when you smell something burning, but know that it is almost always a problem with lint buildup in the vent. Lint is flammable, so if you do notice this smell, get it cleaned out before running your dryer again.