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When was the last time you gave thought to your clothing dryer vents? If you can’t remember — or if you have never given thought to your clothing dryer vents — the time has come to think about them. Ignoring your clothing dryer vents can cause you serious problems, and put your home and your family in danger.

You know that your clothing dryer creates lint every time you dry a load of laundry. What you might not realize is that the lint you clean out of your lint trap isn’t the entirety of the lint. With each load of laundry, damp lint bypasses the dryer and sticks to the edges of your dryer vents, then to itself. If dryer vents aren’t cleaned regularly, they will become clogged with lint. Clogged dryer vents can cause the dryer’s heating element to overheat and ignite, leading to a serious fire. In fact, firefighters in the United States respond to nearly 15,000 clothing dryer fires each year.

If your clothing dryer vents have become clogged, it’s likely your dryer will be sending you signs of a pending problem. As you think about your clothing dryer vents, ask yourself these questions:

• Are loads of laundry taking longer to dry than normal? When dryer vents are clogged, your dryer won’t work efficiently, and clothes will take longer to dry than normal. A regular load of clothes should dry within a 40-minute cycle, and a heavier load of blankets or towels should dry within an hour if dryer vents are cleared and the dryer is working efficiently.

• Is your clothing dryer hot to the touch when it’s running? Does your laundry room heat up noticeably when the dryer is running? When the vents are clogged, the dryer vent’s heating element is prone to overheating. Clogged dryer vents can cause the dryer to feel hot to the touch, the laundry room to heat up noticeable and clothes to feel unusually hot to the touch when they come out of the dryer.

• Does your laundry room smell smoky, musty or overwhelmingly like fabric softener? If dryer vents are clogged, the air won’t be exhausting fully from your dryer, which can cause an overwhelming smell of fabric softener. An overheated heating element can cause a smoky, burning smell, and if clothes aren’t drying fully with each dryer cycle, a musty smell can result.

• Do you have a smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in or near your laundry room? Even if you routinely have your clothing dryer vents cleaned, your laundry room should be outfitted with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to alert you and your family of a fire or buildup of carbon monoxide caused by clogged dryer vents or a faulty dryer.

The only way to protect your home from the dangers of clogged dryer vents is with a professional dryer vent cleaning. A professional dryer vent cleaning scrubs the lint from vent walls with high-powered rotating brushes and vacuums it away to keep vents clear. Think about your clothing dryer vents — if they are due for a cleaning, call to schedule an appointment with A to Z Chimney Services today!