Dryers are pretty straightforward: the heating element warms up the dryer, the drum rotates the laundry, and hot air and lint escape through the vent. This leaves you with freshly dried clothes every time.
Well…almost every time.
When the lint screen or lint trap catch little or no lint, a clog in the dryer vent is the most likely cause of your wet clothes, assuming all other components of the dryer are working.
This is bad news. When lint accumulates in the dryer vent or cavity, the obstruction can make the heating element get too hot, creating a fire hazard. The fix depends on where the lint or debris has accumulated and why.
Reasons for Dryer Vent Obstruction
Here are a few of the reasons why your dryer vents are obstructed:
Instead of using the Timed Dry option, try using Auto Dry option, which detects when your clothes are dry and how much longer is needed to dry them.
The Vents Need Cleaning
It is recommended to clean the vents of your house at least once per year. If your dryer is linked to your home’s vents—which may be older or haven’t been cleaned in a while—this may hinder your dryer from performing at its best.
A Clogged Vent
It is possible that your vents aren’t just dirty; they may be restricted as well. Check the vent tube to see if it’s kinked, folded, or even crushed. Here’s how to tell whether your vents are misshapen.
You may check for vent blockages yourself. However, it is still recommended that you call a professional vent cleaning service yearly to inspect the vent. Alternatively, there are plenty of free online videos which feature related content to support and help you with your dryer problems.
Symptoms of a clogged lint screen/lint filter
As we said earlier, if your lint filter in the dryer vent is restricted, your dryer may experience the following symptoms:
Long Drying Period
The most common sign of a clogged lint filter is longer drying times. When the vent is obstructed or restricted, it may take many cycles to dry a load of clothes because hot, wet air cannot properly exit the dryer.
The Dryer Is Hot to the Touch
Another common sign of a vent obstructed with dryer lint is that the dryer is very hot. When heat cannot escape, most of the warm air stays inside the dryer, especially at the machine’s sides and bottom. This can make your dryer quite hot to the touch.
Buildup of Steam and Moisture
Similar to a sauna, moisture and heat inside the dryer combine to generate steam. The airflow of the steam will remain inside the dryer if the vent is blocked. You will be able to see steam on the door (if it’s a glass door) or when you open it. If your dryer has an electronic display, the display may steam over as well.
Dripping Water on the Floor
As the hot air continues to build up, it may collect inside the dryer, in the vent, or especially in the exhaust. Water my drip from the dryer and puddles may form on the floor, usually behind the machine.
The Lint Screen is Deficient in Lint
Insufficient air circulation may cause excess dryer lint from clothing to bypass the lint trap. Lint may also accumulate around the dryer door or on the clothes. In this case, very little lint will appear on the bottom of the lint screen.
Fixes for Incorrect Dryer Lint Buildup
Disconnect the Dryer Duct
The dryer duct is the broad tube that runs from the back of the dryer to a dryer vent. This tube is commonly composed of ridged flexible foil and coils beneath the dryer. Thoroughly examine the lint housing and check the air exiting your dryer. If the dryer vent or the air leaving it is dirty, it’s time to clean the duct.
First, pull the duct loose by removing the attaching ring around the vent and dryer-side connector. Once the duct is accessible, reach in and pick out handfuls of lint. It’s fine if you can’t reach the whole length of the duct the first time. You can access and clean the rest of the duct by disconnecting the other end.
Remove the Lint Housing
The lint housing is located beneath the lint aperture of the dryer. This is the channel that blows air through the hose to the screen to capture dryer lint. Unfortunately, if your lint housing isn’t up to standard or isn’t cleaned often enough, the housing can fill up and become blocked with lint. When this happens, the airflow is decreased, and more lint is directed out of the vent, potentially accumulating elsewhere.
Use a flashlight to look inside the lint housing, and remove the screen if required. Next, you’ll need to clean up any visible lint buildup. You may be able to disassemble or pull out the lint housing for easier cleaning.
Clean the Outdoor Vent Exhaust
Go outside and find the dryer exhaust on the exterior of your house. This vent is critical for managing in-home temperature and humidity, including those emitted by your dryer. After finding the exhaust, check the vent inside and clean any debris or obstruction so that air can move freely.
Clean the Vent Intake
Examine the intake vent for any lint or obstructions. Remove any clumped lint and clean off the inside of the vent. The dryer vent’s filter, which captures lint, has to be cleaned regularly. Otherwise, the exhaust itself might get so blocked with lint that air cannot flow through it.
Lint can tell you a lot about the health of your dryer. Where lint accumulates (or doesn’t) can point you toward problems in the dryer exhaust vent, intake vent, lint trap, or dryer duct. But once you know what’s wrong, you’re well on your way to having dry clothes again.