Why Does Dryer Vent Keep Getting Clogged?

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It’s entirely normal for dryer vents to get clogged up after some time. However, you’ll want to troubleshoot further if it keeps getting clogged more often than usual.

A dryer vent that clogs quickly is a sign that the appliance is being used more often than usual. Households with large families, for instance, use their dryers more frequently. Bulky items and new clothes also contribute to the problem by creating lots more lint than regular laundry. Lastly, a dryer vent line with lots of bends and turns will also clog with lint much quicker than usual.

In this article, we’re going to explore the reasons why your dryer vent keeps getting clogged. We’ll also pay special attention to why this happens with dryer vents that terminate at the roof instead of a sidewall.

How Often Do You Need To Clean A Dryer Vent?

On average, you should inspect and clean your dryer vents at least once a year. 

The best way to perform those tasks is to disconnect the vent entirely from the back of the dryer and at its termination point (i.e. the part that leads outside through the vent cover).

Cleaning your dryer vents once a year will prevent any significant buildup of lint and dust in the vent and help your dryer to function at its best.

Reasons You Need To Clean Your Dryer Vent More Often

Suppose your dryer vents keep getting clogged more often than usual. If that’s the case, then you’ll likely need to clean the vent more often for one or more of the following reasons:

  • If you use the dryer very often: Households with larger families will have more clothes that need to be washed and dried. As a result, you’ll be using your dryer more often than the average user, resulting in faster lint buildups in the dryer vents.
  • If you dry bulky items often: Bulky items like bathroom towels and bedding also generate more lint than regular clothing. So, washing them often will also contribute more to the growing buildups in your dryer vent.
  • If there are pets in the home: Besides lint, pet dander from your clothes will also come out and build up in dryer vents. With furry friends living in your home, you’ll end up cleaning your dryer vents more often.
  • If there are bends and corners: Dryer vents must be as straight as possible for optimal airflow. The bends and corners in your dryer vent will cause lint buildups. So, the more of them you have, the more often you’ll want to clean them out.
  • If you buy new clothes often: New clothes produce much more lint than used ones, especially when you dry them for the first time. Suppose you buy new clothes very often. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that lint will build up in your dryer vents faster.

What Happens When A Dryer Vent Is Blocked?

When a dryer vent gets clogged, you’ll experience the following side effects:

  • Clothes take longer to dry: The most significant tell-tale sign that your dryer vent is blocked (and the most noticeable side effect) is that your clothes take longer than usual to dry.

When airflow through the dryer vent is restricted, the moist air from inside the appliance cannot escape efficiently. That will result in your clothes staying wet for much longer.

  • Dryer and clothes overheat: Because the drying cycle lasts longer than average, the dryer and clothes will overheat. Some fabrics can get damaged by excessive heat.
  • Excessive energy is used: Your dryer already uses a significant amount of energy to generate heat. However, when a blocked vent results in the drying cycle lasting longer than it should, your dryer will end up using far too much energy. 
  • Increased wear and tear on the dryer: Long running times and excessive heat won’t damage your dryer if it happens only once or twice. However, if it happens each and every time you use the dryer without cleaning the vent, the appliance and its parts will wear out faster.

Why Is My Dryer Still Showing Signs of a Clog Even After Cleaning The Vent?

Suppose you’ve cleaned your dryer vent thoroughly, yet you still see signs that the vent is clogged (e.g. clothes taking too long to dry and the dryer is overheating). If you’re sure that the vent is clear, then it’s time to consider that the blockage isn’t in the dryer vent.

Remember: the air has to travel through several dryer sections before it even reaches the vent. So, there might be a clog inside the dryer itself. 

Here’s how you can troubleshoot the problem of an internal lint clog within the dryer itself:

  • Lint filter: First and foremost, always check and clean the lint filter. You should clean the lint filter before and after each drying cycle to keep the appliance functioning correctly.
  • Lint housing: The lint filter fits into a housing that holds it in place as air is forced through. Sometimes, the housing can also accumulate lint that reduces airflow. Clean this housing as well.
  • The rear of the dryer: Lastly, check and clean the rear of the dryer where it connects to the duct. There’s a strong possibility that the lint clog has formed at that area before it even enters the vent duct.

What’s Causing My Dryer Vent To Keep Getting Clogged On The Roof?

Some homeowners have dryer vents that exhaust out through the roof. If your appliance is designed to vent this way and keeps getting clogged, then there are some slight differences that you need to be aware of.

Here are the troubleshooting steps you’ll need to follow in clearing that clog.

Longer Vents

When a dryer is vented out through the nearest wall, the hot air and lint don’t have to travel very far to exit the building. However, the dryer vent will stretch much further if you’re venting it out through the roof, as it’ll have to travel to the ceiling and through the attic (if you have one).

What difference does that make? 

Well, when you have a long dryer vent line, the hot and moist air can get stuck inside the duct. That means the lint and dirt will also have a much more challenging time exiting the building through the vent at the roof.

As a result, the dryer vents could clog at the roof simply because there isn’t enough airflow to push all the air and lint out through the vent cover.

Kinked or Crushed Dryer Vent

Ideally, most of your dryer vent line should consist of rigid parts that don’t bend or get crushed easily. Still, some parts will have to be flexible to make it easier to connect to the appliance and the vent cover.

Those flexible vent sections are at risk of being kinked, thereby restricting the airflow passing through them. That tends to happen when homeowners use flexible ducting to snake around the attic on its way to the vent cover.

Related: Dryer Vent Repair – Should You Fix It By Yourself?

Besides that, dryer vents can also get crushed by boxes or other items that have fallen onto them. That’s especially true with flexible vents, which cannot resist much weight at all.

Vent Exhaust Problems

Last but not least, the problem of a clogged dryer vent at the roof could be at the vent’s termination point, i.e. the vent cover or exhaust on the roof.

These covers come in many shapes (e.g. angled, box, or louvred). No matter the shape, one thing they have in common is that they each have a hinged flapper door. That door keeps the vent closed when it’s not in use.

If, however, that flapper door is stuck shut, then your dryer will not be able to vent all the hot air, moisture, and lint from the appliance. With nowhere to go, the dryer vent is likely to get clogged very quickly. 

How Do You Clean Your Dryer Vent From The Outside?

To clean a dryer vent from the outside, all you’ll need is an extendable brush and your vacuum. 

Related: How Often To Clean Dryer Vent?

It’s best to remove the vent cover entirely, if possible. If not, you’ll want to try and keep the hinged flapper door open so that you can stick an extendable brush inside.

  • Using the vacuum: Once you’ve gained easy access to the inside of the dryer vent, you can then begin by using your vacuum. The vacuum will suck up as much of the lint and dirt buildup as possible from inside the vent.
  • Using the duct cleaning brush: You can also use a specialized duct cleaning brush with attachments that help you reach deeper into the vent. These brushes will help to loosen up and remove some of the more stubborn buildups that you couldn’t get with a vacuum.
  • Final cleanup inside: As you clean the dryer vent from the outside, it’s likely that a lot of the lint and dirt will also fall down the vent line. That’s especially true when your dryer is vented at the roof, as parts of the vent line might be vertical.

So, once you’re done cleaning the dryer vent from the outside, it’s also an excellent idea to clean the vent where it connects to the dryer inside the house.

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