It's finally spring and time to think about all those outdoor clean up and maintenance projects. While your are outside, take a minute to look at the dryer vent outlet cover located somewhere on the side of your house. It needs to look nice and clean with freely moveable vent louvers. You don't want it to look like the pictures below.
Dryer vent clogs like the above have two main implications. The first is that they are a fire risk and a pretty significant one at that. From the FEMA website: "2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss." The second implication is that a clogged dryer vent leads to decreased efficiency of the dryer. If it is harder to get the exhaust out, the dryer has to work harder and clothes will take longer to dry.
The fix for this is pretty simple. Remove the lint accumulation from the outside (you may need to remove the cover from the wall to do this). You can usually just brush and pull the lint from the cover but a vacuum with a brush attachment can come in handy for this task. If you notice a large amount of lint within the duct work, there is a brush on a long cable that can be used to help clean the system.
To check that everything is working correctly, put the cover back on the wall and turn the dryer on inside. The flap or louvers on the dryer vent cover should open freely and allow the dryer exhaust to blow out without restriction.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.