Dryer vents are one those things that are out of sight, out of mind...at least until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, some of the things that could go wrong can be quite serious. Fortunately, they can be prevented with some routine cleaning and maintenance. Here are 3 reasons why an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to keeping your dryer vents clean.

Nearly 1 out of every 22 home structure fires is caused by dryers

Between 2006 and 2010, 1 out of every 22 home structure fires was caused by dryers and washing machines. Out of those fires, 92% of them were caused by clothes dryers. The leading cause of these fires, at 32%, was due to the owner's failure to clean the vents.

Dryer vents accumulate lint and other debris that can easily catch fire. When dryer vents are blocked, heat from the appliance cannot escape. The heat can sometimes ignite the flammable lint inside the dryer. Also, gas operated dryers can be even more dangerous. A spark inside the dryer vent can ignite gas from a leak and cause an explosion.

The location of your dryer vent is also important. The end of the vent should be located outdoors away from any flammable building materials and greenery. The vent duct should be insulated from building materials and electrical wiring. The end of the vent should be kept clean and free of debris.  

Dirty dryer vents can cause mold & mildew growth

Dryer vents that are blocked can cause moisture and heat to back up into the laundry room. Excessive moisture in a confined area is the leading cause of mold and mildew growth. If your laundry room is located in the basement, your problem may be more severe. Basements are typically cooler and darker. The coolness of your basement plus the heat coming from your dryer can cause a lot of condensation to form on your basement walls, ceiling and flooring. This condensation can lead to fast mold and mildew growth since the area is likely to be dark for long periods of time.

If you start noticing that your basement or laundry room is more humid than normal, call for a dryer vent cleaning service. However, you don't have to wait until you start to take notice of the changes. Install a humidity monitor in your laundry room. This is a device that will measure the humidity level and temperature. This device can help you keep tabs on how well your dryer vent is working.

Dryers are more efficient when the vents are clean

Remember when you first bought your clothes dryer? You were amazed that a full load of heavy items were dry in a short time. How long does that same size and type of load take to dry now? If it takes a bit longer to dry now, then you probably need to have your dryer vent cleaned.

Clean dryer vents allow for the appliance to function properly, which means the dryer will be more energy efficient. The moisture inside the dryer can escape through the dryer vent and this helps to dry the clothing faster. But, when the dryer vent is blocked or has minimal air flow, the moisture cannot escape the dryer.

If you are running your dryer longer for each load, think about what that is doing to your energy bill. Cleaning your dryer vent (and keeping it clean) may help you reduce your electricity or gas bill. Also, you won't waste any more time checking on clothes to see if they are dry, only to have to run the dryer again. Most importantly, it can help reduce your risks of house fires and mold growth.