Terry estimates heís personally inspected and repaired
more than 4,000 dryer vents over the past 16 years as
the owner of The Almetal Dryer Vent Corporation in
Charlotte, N.C., and heís seen one common problem over
and over again that helps contribute to more than 15,000
dryer vent fires annually.
the ownerís manual of dryers manufactured in America,
it tells you explicitly not to use flex hose,"
flex hose is the white or foil-looking ribbed flexible
hose that runs from the back of the dryer to the vent in
the wall. Homeowners should replace those hoses with the
semi-rigid metal hose now recommended by dryer
hoses catch more lint, therefore clogging your vent up
on airflow and overheating your dryer," Terry said.
"Dryer fires are caused by lint buildup. When you
have lint buildup in the vent, the air will not flow,
therefore the element overheats. When the element
overheats, it ignites the residual lint in the vent and
you have a dryer vent fire."
vents should be inspected and cleaned at least every two
years, more often if you have a large family or do large
amounts of laundry, said Bob Bryfogle of Dryer Vent
Wizard of Central Texas, in Austin.
one thing, it shortens the drying times, so you donít
have to wait so long for clothes to get done,"
Bryfogle said. "Another reason is it saves on
energy costs. Typically, if it takes two cycles to dry
the clothes and you have the dryer vent cleaned and it
then only takes one cycle to dry the clothes, it reduces
the cost for the average family by $18 to $24 a month.
So, if youíre saving $20 a month, over a year youíre
saving $240 in energy costs. And because youíre using
the dryer less, it extends its life."
size of the home, length of the vent and how easily
accessible it is can factor into the cost of a cleaning,
but most dryer vent cleanings range from about $80 to
$200. The cost will more than pay for itself in energy
savings and in the money homeowners will save on
repairing or replacing their dryers. Terry said itís
not uncommon for him to get a call from a befuddled
homeowner who just purchased a new dryer thinking their
old one was no longer working, only to find the new unit
still isnít drying their clothes as quickly as it
a clothes dryer takes longer than 45-50 minutes to dry a
load of cotton, be it towels or blue jeans, itís not
the clothes dryer, itís the vent," Terry said.
"Iíve gone in several homes and thereís a new
dryer sitting there waiting on me. They didnít need a
new dryer. They just needed their vent cleaned.
Unfortunately most people donít know it and when their
dryer is not performing adequately, they think itís
the dryer and go buy a new one."
can keep their dryers operating efficiently by taking a
few steps on their own, including cleaning the lint
screen before and after each load. An obvious signs of a
dryer in need of an inspection is longer drying times,
but a dryer thatís hot to the touch during use or one
that produces clothes that are hot, damp and smell musty
is also likely in need of a vent cleaning.
symptom is if you see a lot of lint on inside of the
dryer door," Bryfogle said. "Thatís an
indication itís not leaving the dryer like it
homeowner hiring a professional vent cleaning company
should expect a full inspection before any work is done
to ensure their vents actually do need cleaned. A
qualified company should inspect the dryer starting from
the lint trap all the way to the roof, attic, crawlspace
or exterior wall where it vents and present a report to
the homeowner identifying possible issues or areas of
and Bryfogle both say their primary goal is to educate
homeowners on the importance of a regular vent cleaning.
venture to say weíre wasting more energy in this
country on our clothes dryers than every (other
appliance) combined in a residential setting,"
Terry said. "I educate people, not only to make
homes safer, but theyíll use a lot less energy and
help our country and world be a better place."