Here's a who-knew: Your dryer is one of the appliances in your home most likely to start a fire. That's because its lint trap catches only 75% of the fluffy stuff. The rest ends up on the ground under your vent or it collects in the vent hose and around the motor. If left to build up, it can choke airflow and cause the dryer to overheat, perhaps igniting the lint.
But the good news is, you can ensure worry-free washing with regular dryer maintenance:
- Clean the lint screen after every use.
- Get your dryer vent professionally cleaned and serviced. Once a year is good for most people, but if you do an exceptional amount of laundry or frequently dry blankets, your vent may need service more often. Warning signs that you're overdue include clothes that come out of the dryer extremely hot, clothes taking longer than normal to dry, a moldy smell on the clothes, an empty lint trap and a dryer shutting off mid-cycle (perhaps caused by overheating).
Make sure the vent hose isn't crushed behind the dryer. Crushing tends to happen over time, especially if you lean against the dryer when you're folding clothes. If its not round anymore, it may be time to replace it.
- Replace plastic vent hose with aluminum. Sheet metal vents are even safer. And make sure your hose isn't coming loose. It can spew warm, humid air into your wall cavities or crawl space and create mold and rot troubles.
- Check your outside vent periodically. Make sure it's not clogged with snow, leaves, lint or even a bird or rodent nest.
And ready for a final worry-free habit? Only run your dryer when someone is home to keep an eye on it – just to be safe.
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