Dryer Lint Traps – Everything You Need to Know
Every time you use your clothes dryer, you should clean the lint trap. A clean lint trap helps the dryer to run at maximum efficiency and maximum safety.
Some dryer vent installations also have an external lint trap, which is also known as a secondary lint trap or a 4″ In-Line Dryer Lint Trap.
What Is a Dryer Lint Trap?
This device acts as an in line lint filter in the dryer’s exhaust pipe. Its purpose is to provide additional protection for your dryer booster fan, and it also helps to prevent the dryer exhaust pipe from getting clogged with lint as quickly.
External lint traps are usually installed on clothes dryers that are located on an inside wall, or when the length of the dryer vent exceeds 20-30 feet. The shorter the overall length of the vent pipe and the fewer the number of elbows or turns in the pipe, the better. New dryers will only carry the air and lint for about 18 feet, not including elbows and bends. Longer vent lengths and turns all add restriction to the air flow, causing dryer lint to build up inside.
Best Use Practices
A good way to do this is by having your dryer vent professionally cleaned on a regular basis. This is also where the secondary lint trap can help. Not everyone needs an external lint trap, and some homeowners who do have them often have questions about their use.
The most commonly asked questions about lint traps that are asked by people who already have one are:
1. How often should I clean it?
2. How do you open the door?
So to answer those questions, the lint trap has a clear door, so you can see through it. Check it before every load and you will quickly get an idea of how often your’s needs to be cleaned… something like every 3-5 loads is average. That’s for the secondary lint trap. The one that came with your dryer still needs to be cleaned at the start of every load.
While not every load fills the trap, cleaning it after each load will help reduce energy use.
And to open the door? That depends on the type of lint trap you have, however, they are all fairly similar. The most common one is a model called the LT-180. It has a plexiglass door with a knob on it. All you have to do is lift the knob up and pull it out on the bottom. To replace the door, you reverse those steps. Its very easy once you try it a few times.
Your LT180 lint trap can be installed either on the wall (highly visible) or inside the drywall. If this is the case, then you would only see a plexiglass door with two small folds of metal on either side. This could be on the ceiling near your dryer or on the wall.
The photo above shows an extremely dirty lint trap. The condo owner had recently moved in and did not realize they even had one of these.
Home Depot Dryer Lint Traps
The LT-180 is the best we have found so far. It is made in Canada, is constructed of thick metal and is of commercial quality. This lint trap is a permanent model.
Over time (years) the door may crack or the screen may become damaged or frayed. It will help to know that the door and screen can be replaced seperately, and those cost about $20. If you have a broken door on your model LT180 lint trap, feel free to call us and we can send you a new one.
Some Do-it-yourselfers prefer to buy a dryer lint trap from Home Depot, but they also offer several other models as well. There are cheaper quality plastic ones, but it is recommended that you purchase the more durable and slightly more expensive model LT180. The metal one is much more sturdy and will be problem-free.
Risk Of Dryer Duct Fires
Dryer duct fires are a very real and serious threat. They have become more frequent with population growth, and stories of dryer duct fires have been steadily increasing and are now fairly common in the news.
Any home or business that operates a clothes dryer needs to take proper precautions to reduce this risk as much as possible, regardless if your machine is gas or electric.
Dryer lint is very flammable and can accumulate inside a vent pipe fairly quickly. It is recommended that most dryer exhaust vents be cleaned once per year.
More Info About Secondary Lint Traps
It is always a good idea for homeowners to educate themselves about the operation of their HVAC systems and clothes dryer. Everyone knows how to use the dryer, but you can still learn some helpful and useful tips with a small amount of research.
Below are some useful links that we’ve found regarding the safe operation of your clothes dryer, and how to help prevent a
dryer fire in your home or business.
Taking care of your clothes dryer is important for home fire safety.
Tips to prevent dryer fires at https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/clothes_dryers.html
More dryer tips at http://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/118931/5022.pdf