Most homeowners know that it’s important to clean the lint trap in their dryer every time they do a load of laundry, but many people don’t know much about the other components that make up their dryer ventilation system.
Beyond the dryer’s lint trap, there is vent piping that leads from the back of the dryer to the exterior of the house and a vent cover mounted on the outside of the house. These components exist so that the exhaust from the dryer has a way of traveling outside while (hopefully) preventing vermin and other items from entering. However, these items are often not installed in a way that promotes maximum safety and energy efficiency.
Dryer vent piping is often flexible. Flexible piping is permitted and is often used because it is easy to work with, but rigid vent piping is preferred. This is because rigid piping is more solid so it is less prone to damage. In addition, rigid piping helps the dryer run more efficiently. The only downside is that rigid piping is a bit more complicated to install, which is why most homeowners opt for the flexible option, especially if they are installing it on their own. The use of flexible vent piping is not a defect, but it is not as good an option as rigid pipe.
A common defect, however, is found with exterior vent covers. Covers designed for bathroom vents are often used for dryers, and these vents contain screens. Screens may help in preventing things from entering from the exterior, but they also tend to trap lint which clogs the cover and can eventually cause obstruction that prevents the dryer exhaust from exiting to the exterior. A proper vent cover for a dryer should not have a screen but should, instead, have a flap (or multiple flaps) that opens when exhaust is forced through and otherwise remains closed. The appropriate term for this type of vent cover is a “louvered” vent cover. This allows for proper and complete exhaust while preventing the entrance of unwanted items from the outdoors.
Check your dryer vent cover to be sure it isn’t screened, and replace it if it is. In addition, consider replacing flexible dryer vent piping with rigid pipe to increase the efficiency of your dryer and lessen the risk of damage to the pipe. These simple tasks, along with continual cleaning of the lint trap, will ensure that your dryer is working as intended and that your family is safer.
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