Common Causes of a Clogged Dryer Vent

Fred's Appliance
August 28, 2014


Is your dryer vent clogged or otherwise obstructed? Some people may brush this off as nothing more than a minor issue, but in reality it’s a serious hazard that places you and your family’s lives at risk.


According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there were 2,900 dryer-related residential fires reported to U.S. fire departments between 2008 and 2010. These fired were responsible for 5 deaths, over 100 injuries, and some $35 million worth of property damage. The single most common cause of dryer-related house fires was clogged and/or dirty dryer vents.


Signs that your dryer vent is clogged may include:


  • Clothes are still wet after coming out of the dryer.
  • Inside of the dryer is unusually hot (heat is normally exhausted through the vent).
  • You smell the odor of burning fabric when your clothes dryer is running.
  • Lint and fabric debris covering the duct hood.
  • You haven’t cleaned your dryer vent in over a year.


When lint and debris build up inside the dryer hose and duct, it can restrict the flow of hot air and gasses – air that is normally exhausted from dryer to outside the home. The continued use of a clothes dryer with a clogged exhaust vent can subsequently result in a fire. This is why it’s important for homeowners to routinely inspect and clean their vents.


There are several different factors that may play a role in the clogging of a dryer vent, one of which is failure to clean the lint trap. Whether you own a top-loader or front-loader, you should clean the lint filter before each load of clothes. Filters do an excellent job as catching most of the lint, but failing to clean it will result in some lint making its way past the filter and into the exhaust vent.


Another common cause of a clogged dryer vent is items falling into the lint trap. It’s not uncommon for family members to place the contents of their pants pockets on top of the washing machine next to the lint trap. If gum wrappers, coins, keys or other items fall into the lint trap, it could get sucked into the vent, where it blocks the gas and air from exhausting properly.


A good rule of thumb is to clean your dryer vent at least once a year. Maintaining a clean dryer vent will greatly reduce the risk of dryer-related house fires while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your clothes dryer.

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