How to tell if dryer vent is clogged [clogged dryer vent symptoms]

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What are the symptoms of a clogged dryer vent? Find out in this post

We all know that a clogged dryer vent can be a massive fire hazard..

You might also understand that if your dryer vent is blocked, chances are your dryer will start performing poorly when it comes to drying your clothes..

Problem is, some of us don’t actually know how to tell if dryer vent is clogged..

And that’s where this article comes in..

So below is how to tell if dryer vent is clogged


How to tell if dryer vent is clogged – clogged dryer vent symptoms

Now, you can tell (typically) if your dryer vent is blocked by looking out for the following signs:


Telltale sign 1: Your dryer is taking longer to dry clothes

Perhaps the biggest sign that your dryer vent needs cleaning is worsening drying performance..

In short, if your dryer is clogged with lint, chances are your clothes will be taking more time/more cycles to dry out (which means increased energy bills)..

That’s because the blockage (from the lint buildup) prevents moist air from getting out, which in turn leaves your laundry wetter (than usual) for longer.

In fact, some dryer models bring down the heat-of your dryer- when the unit detects the vent as clogged- the reduced heat results in poor drying conditions.


Telltale sign 2: There’s a burning smell

The next common sign of a badly clogged dryer vent is a burning smell.

Now, if you detect this, please please DO NOT ignore!.

The reason is, accumulated lint in a dryer vent can be a serious fire hazard…

And I cannot emphasize that enough…

Indeed, this is the main reason dryer manufacturers recommend you clean out dryer vent before you start using the clothes dryer when you move houses.

Of course, you really cannot tell how well the departed owner maintained the dryer.

Indeed, if you’re a new homeowner, I have to tell you this: you will do well to invest in a dry/wet Shop Vac.

It comes in very handy not only when you move in but also considering that it’s best to clean out the dryer vent annually (at least)

In short, all homeowners need to have one.

Another option is  a good leaf blower -it works quite well too and the only thing you probably need to bear in mind is it will shoot the lint outside through/via the vent.


Telltale sign 3: The Vent Check Sensing icon lights up

There are models (some Samsung dryers, for example) that come with a helpful vent clogging sensor..

Here is what happens: If the vent is blocked, the sensor will sense the blockage and will subsequently start lighting up or blinking(during/when the cycle ends sometimes for up to 3 hours).

So if you see the Vent Check Sensor light/icon light or blink as above, then your dryer exhaust vent is certainly clogged and in need of immediate cleaning.


How to test if dryer vent is clogged

A simple way of ‘testing’ is to test the dryer for a low heat fault.

You just need to do the following:

  1. Disconnect the vent from your dryer.
  2. Start a “Time Dry” cycle for about 30 seconds. (Ensure Eco Dry setting has been turned off before you run Time Dry, if your unit has it.)
  3. Feel inside the drum for hot air.

Now if your dryer feels hotter when vent is detached, then the odds are that your dryer vent is clogged too much and you should clean it ASAP.

Otherwise, if the heat feels the same as when the vent is attached, the reduced heat problem is unlikely to be due to vent clogging.

Quick Tip:

There are models with a vent blockage test feature/sensor built. A good example is selected Samsung units and you can go here to read how it’s done if you have an applicable Samsung dryer.


What happens when dryer vent is blocked

As mentioned above, the two major signs are:

  • Clothes not drying as fast as they used to do
  • Burning smell- you could smell a lingering burning odor when you’re using the dryer


How to clean dryer vent

Remember it is important to clean your dryer’s vent annually- you might need to clean it more frequently if you’re using the dryer heavily otherwise you’ll have to contend with a fire starter(potentially).

The good thing is cleaning the dryer vent is actually easy peasy (unless you have an extremely long dryer vent).

Indeed, all you need to do is simply pop the vent off the back(of the dryer), jam your shop vac hose(assuming you have gone that direction) into it, and Voila! – your dryer should be disconnected from power/gas supply as you do this.

In other words, disconnect your dryer vent from the rear of your dryer, then grab your shop vac and proceed to vacuum out all loose debris.

Next, locate the exit vent (outside your house) and again shove your shop vac hose(you want to do that as far as possible).


What about cleaning the lint trap?

Well, you should ideally clean the Lint trap after every dryer use.

That said, the lint trap tends to be safer or, in general, less dangerous if you don’t keep up with it.


The main reason is the part is usually closer to the dryer high-limit switches hence if heat builds up a lot in your dryer’s drum, the heating element normally turns off(the high limit switch sends the signal to switch off automatically).

So while it is equally important to keep cleaning the lint filter, it is not as big a fire hazard as a clogged dryer ducting.


How to tell if dryer vent is clogged [clogged dryer vent symptoms] – recap

The two major signs that your dryer is clogged are:

  • Clothes not drying as fast as they used to do
  • Burning smell- you could smell a lingering burning odor when you’re using the dryer

Don’t forget to clean it once(or more) annually based on how heavily you use it.



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