Troubleshooting Restricted Airflow in Your Dryer

A&E Appliance
June 2, 2020
Dryer Repair

Are your clothes coming out of your normal dry cycle a little wet? Do you have a light on your dryer that says VENT or LINT that has suddenly come on? These can both be signs that your dryer is having restricted airflow issues. How your dryer typically works is that it produces warm, dry air that is released into the drum. It intermingles with your clothing as it tumbles around. The warm, moist air is then ferried out through the dryer, into an exhaust hose, and out a vent that is installed in your home.

When the airflow is blocked in this process, your clothing will still get somewhat dry, but because the moist air cannot be properly released, the clothes will remain moist.

The most worrying thing about this issue is that restricted airflow in a dryer is a fire hazard. What typically causes an airflow restriction is the build-up of lint. Unfortunately, lint is also pretty flammable. When combined with an onslaught of hot air and not able to properly vent, dryer lint can catch fire that can cause devastating damage to your home. This is why when your clothes start coming out wet or that warning light comes on in your dryer, you need to investigate. Modern dryers also come equipped with a thermal fuse near the exhaust hose. This will trip if the dryer gets too hot in order to prevent a fire. However, once that happens, you will need to replace it and that can be a bigger pain than simply making sure a dryer vent is clear.

If you want to get your dryer back in working order as well as avoid having your home catch on fire, what can you do to troubleshoot a dryer venting issue?

Is it The Dryer or the Vent?

When your dryer is manifesting airflow issues, your first step should be narrowing down where the problem is coming from. Is something inside the dryer restricting the air flow or is something in the vent obstructing it? Finding out is actually pretty easy. Start by turning on your dryer and then head to the vent on the exterior of your house. While you are there, best to check for any obstructions at the opening or lint laying around it. If you feel a pretty strong flow of air coming out of the vent, it is more likely that something is going wrong in the dryer itself.

What to Check For a Dryer Airflow Issue?

If the cause of a dryer’s lack of airflow is not immediately apparent to you, then it is time to run down this checklist until you find the cause.

  1. Check the Lint Screen – If you are not diligent in cleaning out your lint screen, the solution may be as simple as cleaning it. If it has sat full of lint for awhile, you will also need to clean the lint that has likely built up in the alcove around it as well. It is recommended to take a vacuum hose and get as much out of the housing as possible.
  2. How Close to the Wall is Your Dryer? – As the dryer is connected to the house vent by a flexible metal hose, you can push it pretty close to the wall. However, in doing so, this can constrict and clamp the hose so it can not properly flow. If you have moved your dryer recently, be sure to check that it is not pushed too close to the wall.
  3. Is the Exhaust Hose Crushed? – When we say that the dryer is connected by a “flexible” metal hose, we mean it is as flexible as your standard aluminum foil and almost as prone to being crushed. If it has endured even a little trauma, the hose can get crimped, crushed or even torn open. Inspect the hose and replace if necessary.
  4. Is the Exhaust Hose Clogged? – The exhaust hose is usually held onto the dryer by an easy to remove clamp. Simply remove the clamp and take the hose off. If it looks free and clear, and there is no crushed area further down, then it is fine. However, if you see a lot of lint built up in there, either vacuum it out or replace it.
  5. Is There Lint Where The Exhaust Hose Connected? – The key to keeping a lint-free unrestricted dryer exhaust system is building it with as few bends as humanly possible. When the system needs to bend, this creates a choke point that lint can get caught on and may cause clogs. So when you disconnect the exhaust host, check the connection point at both the dryer and the wall to make sure nothing has built up. Unfortunately, you will commonly find build up at the wall, and if this is the cause, it may have caused a lint clog deeper in the wall.
  6. Is the Screen on the Outside of the Home Clear? – The lint vent on the outside of your home has a screen to prevent animals and other pests from getting in. Unfortunately, this can catch lint. Make sure it is clear. If you notice a lot of lint around that area, it may signal that the wall vent is clogged deeper in the system.

What to Do When The Wall Vent in Your Home is Clogged?

If you discovered that the vent installed in your home is clogged, unfortunately, this is the most difficult thing to fix. You can try a vacuum to suck it out. You can remove the exterior screen and use a shop vac to blow it out. However, if neither works, you will want to call an appliance repair service to repair it. They have the specialized tools to get it done quickly and safely.

Do you have a dryer or other appliance that is manifesting issues that you just cannot figure out? Contact us today!

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