Why Your Dryer Vent Keeps Getting Clogged & How To Stop It

Why Your Dryer Vent Keeps Getting Clogged

Is your dryer vent clogged?

You’re not alone! A clogged dryer vent can restrict airflow and lead to a fire hazard, so addressing the issue immediately is crucial.

Don’t worry, though. I’m here to help!

If your dryer vent keeps clogging, there’s likely too much debris present, the vent cover is blocked, there’s a nest, or you’ve used too much fabric softener. Try using a vacuum to clean the dryer vent and ensure the duct is not kinked.

Ready to solve the issue? Let’s dive in!

If you prefer to listen, here’s a clip from our podcast that will help you figure out why your vent keeps getting clogged.

5 Reasons Why Your Dryer Vent Keeps Getting Clogged

A clogged dryer vent can result in long drying times, excessive heat, lint buildup, a burning smell, and other issues.

But don’t worry. In this section, I’ll guide you through the different reasons that can explain why your dryer keeps clogging so you can address the problem.

#1 There Is Too Much Debris Present

I tend to find that when a dryer vent gets clogged, it’s typically because too much debris is present.

If lint escapes the lint trap, it will enter the dryer duct and collect on the inner surfaces of your dryer duct, blocking the vent and causing airflow issues.

Dryer exhaust vent
Lint buildup can clog your dryer’s vent and cause airflow issues.

You can easily test the airflow by holding down the door switch (so the dryer thinks it’s closed) and starting a cycle at a low temperature. Then, take a piece of paper and hold it under the lint trap.

If the dryer is trying to suck the piece of paper out of your hand and into the lint trap, you’re good. But if the paper is barely moving – you have airflow issues.

A diagram of where a dryer's door switch is located
Hold down your dryer’s door switch then put a paper towel under the lint trap to test for proper airflow.

Airflow issues can cause your dryer to overheat, making the motor burn out faster or even leading to a fire. The reality is that lint makes for excellent kindling, so it is important to be aware of the risk. 

#2 The Vent Cover Is Blocked

In my experience, a dryer vent can get clogged if the cover is blocked.

You see, the dryer vent cover is installed at the exterior opening of the dryer vent duct. It allows moisture to escape, preventing outside elements from entering the vent system.

However, if something is blocking the vent on the exterior of your home, it can cause your dryer to overheat and damage your clothes.

You’ll need to ensure there’s nothing blocking the dryer vent cover to prevent clogs.

#3 There’s a Nest in Your Dryer Vent

If your dryer vent is clogged, you’ll need to check if there’s a nest.

I’ve seen that birds and other small animals often seek shelter in warm and cozy places, such as your dryer vent.

Nest in dryer vent
A nest will block the dryer vent, causing it to fill up with lint.

So, if you smell like something is burning inside your dryer, or you have lint buildup, there could be a nest clogging the dryer vent. In such cases, you should call a professional. 

#4 There’s a Kink in the Vent Duct

If you’re still struggling with a clogged dryer vent, I recommend checking if the duct is kinked.

A kink usually occurs when your dryer vent has to turn a corner, leading to severe lint buildup and potential fire hazards. In such cases, cleaning the lint screen after every load is even more important.

dryer vent duct
A kinked dryer vent duct can lead to lint buildup.

You probably need to call a professional to help you clean the vent duct. They can even suggest installing flexible ducts to prevent kinks from happening in the future.

#5 Fabric Softener Has Built Up Inside the Dryer

Unfortunately, the oils from your fabric softener can also explain why your dryer vent is getting clogged.

If you ever cook bacon, you have probably been told not to dump its grease down the drain because it can harden your plumbing system, causing a severe blockage in your pipes. The same principle takes place with fabric softener in your dryer vent.

Using fabric softener can create a sticky residue that builds up in your dryer vent. Then, the lint that goes through your dryer can stick to the ductwork inside it.

The solution is to limit the use of fabric softener and prevent lint from collecting in the dryer itself.

How to Clean a Clogged Dryer Vent: 4 Simple Steps

Now that you know why your dryer vent is clogged, it’s time to clean it. Follow the next four steps to do so.

#1 Turn Off Your Dryer

First, please turn off your dryer to prevent electrical hazards while unclogging the vent.

Your dryer should have a dedicated circuit or one shared with the washer. Once you’ve located it, please flip it to the “Off” position.

Dryer circuit breaker
Switch your dryer’s breaker to the “Off” position.

You can also unplug the power cord from the wall outlet.

#2 Remove the Dryer Vent Hose from the Wall

The next step in fixing a dryer vent that keeps getting clogged is to remove it from the wall.

You should look for a silver or white hose from the back of the dryer and follow it until it exits your home. It’s probably held in place by several brackets that fit around the edge.

Ventilation Duct Unplugged
Remove the dryer vent hose to clean it.

Then, you’ll need to use a screwdriver to loosen the clamps that attach the hose to the wall. Before pulling the vent away from the wall, please ensure you have a garbage bag ready directly underneath the hose. 

You never know what will fall out of the hose when you remove it from the wall. I usually find hair, dust, dirt, or other debris.

Don’t forget to remove the vent cover.

#3 Clean the Dryer Vent Hose and the Vent Cover

My usual advice for fixing a clogged dryer vent is to stick a vacuum inside the vent opening and remove as much lint as possible.

Using a vacuum to clean an exhaust duct
Using a vacuum is one of the easiest ways to unclog your dryer vent.

Using an auger snake or different vacuum attachments can help you if there are a lot of tough clogs in the hose. Don’t forget to clean around the dryer exhaust and on the back of the unit.

#4 Reattach the Dryer Vent Hose and Vent Cover

Once you’ve unclogged your dryer vent hose, you must reattach it. To do so, follow the steps in reverse.

You should use your screwdriver to put the brackets and clamps back in place around the vent hose. Don’t forget to take a closer look at the vent cover.

I’ve noticed that when homeowners pull the vent hose off to inspect it and have a puddle of water, it’s typically because the vent cover is not in place, allowing rain and moisture to go straight down into the pipe. So, it’s important to ensure the vent cover is properly installed.

Finally, do not forget to put the dryer back in the right position and plug it in so it works again. 

Wrapping Up: Unclogging Your Dryer Vent

Hopefully, now you know how to fix your dryer vent issues.

Remember that if your dryer vent is clogged, there’s probably too much debris present, the duct is kinked, there’s a nest, or the vent cover is blocked. Please unplug your dryer from the power source and vacuum the vent to solve the issue.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this quick article. If you found it helpful, please check out our related posts below.

Have a great day!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more