You may think you have all the bases covered when it comes to fire safety at home, but have you considered your clothes dryer?
Clothes dryers are responsible for nearly 15,000 house fires each year, and according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the leading cause of dryer fires is a build-up of lint in the system. While you may be vigilant about cleaning your dryer’s lint trap, it’s also critical to take care of your dryer’s vent system as well. Here’s how to do it in 10 steps, courtesy of Erie Insurance:
1. Buy a dryer cleaning kit. You can typically purchase a dryer cleaning kit from a home improvement store for under $50. The price will go up depending on the quality of the kit’s materials and the length of the cleaning rods. If you have the proper attachments, a household vacuum may work, too.
2. Unplug the dryer. When working on any appliance, be sure to unplug it first for maximum safety. Either unplug your dryer or shut it off via the electrical panel before starting the cleaning process.
3. Pull the dryer away from the wall. You will need plenty of room to access the dryer vent, so pull the dryer as far away from the wall as the hose will allow.
4. Detach the dryer vent hose. Remove any clamps or screws attaching the hose to the wall or dryer. This could be difficult depending on the length of the hose and where it leads.
5. Clean the moisture sensors. Wipe down the sensors inside your dryer with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. Do this each time you clean the dryer vent or when cycles become inefficient.
6. Clean the hose. Use a vacuum to suction lint from both ends of the hose. Then, use the brush from your cleaning kit to clear out any trapped lint. Keep a wire hanger nearby to snake out debris if necessary. Just be careful to not damage the hose in the process.
7. Reattach the hose. Put the hose back in its place and reattach any clamps or screws. Slide the dryer back against the wall.
8. Clean the exterior vent. Now that the hose is clear, head outside to take care of your home’s exterior vent. Remove the vent cover and clean any excess lint to make sure the vent pipe has no obstructions.
9. Run the dryer. Turn the power back on and run the machine empty for 20 minutes, using the air-dry setting. Check for air and lint blowing out of the exterior vent. Then, turn off the dryer and put the cover back on once the vent is clear.
10. Consider a pro. Don’t hesitate to call a professional if something doesn’t look right or you feel the job is more than you can handle. A pro can help uncover underlying problems and will know if it’s time for a new dryer altogether.