Clean Dryer Vents

Lint buildup can make your clothes dryer operate inefficiently. Drying clothes energy efficiently requires the unrestricted airflow from the room through the dryer and to the outdoors. If your dryer takes longer than 40 minutes to dry a heavy load of clothes, poor airflow caused by lint may be the problem. Your dryer uses between 60 and 120 dollars worth of electricity a year, so some simple maintenance can conserve energy and save money.

Your dryer’s lint filter is designed to keep lint from building up elsewhere in the ductwork. Clean it after each load to maintain a good airflow.

Some lint will always get by the screen, however, and find its way into the heating coils and hidden ductwork inside your clothes dryer. This lint will waste energy by restricting airflow, and can cause fires, too. You can clean these hidden areas by unplugging your dryer’s electrical connection, pulling it away from the wall, and opening the back. Use a soft brush and vacuum to clean the coils, ducts, and elbows there.

Lint also builds up in the vent pipe or dryer hood outside your home. You can sometimes reach into the hood from outdoors and pull out lint by the handful. You may have to disassemble a fitting or two. Be careful not to cut yourself on any sharp metal edges.

Flexible ribbed plastic dryer vent may be easy to install, but it reduces airflow even when new, and it tends to collect lint that increases the cost of drying your clothes. Many flexible vents have up to an inch of lint lining their walls. Rather than trying to clean this mass of lint out of the flexible vent, it’s better to re-pipe the dryer vent in 4- or 5-inch metal vent pipe, which has considerably less resistance to airflow. A short piece of flexible vent can help to connect the dryer to the rigid metal vent, and allows sufficient flexibility to move the dryer around.

See The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiencyfor simple practical energy-efficiency ideas.