Lint buildup is a common problem that plagues laundry dryers across the country, but many homeowners are unaware of the dangers it can cause. 

Question: A serviceman told me the reason my clothes don’t dry fully is because my clothes-dryer vent is clogged with lint. He wants to open the wall to replace the estimated 15 feet of duct in the wall, which he claims will be a major job in my house. Do you think I’m getting a straight story?

Answer: Despite regular cleaning of traps, lint can indeed work its way into the duct work, getting hung up on protruding screws or at crimps or other obstructions and certainly can affect drying efficiency. The lint buildup can also cause overheating of the unit or a fire, so it needs to be addressed. In most case, there are options to full replacement, such as more aggressive cleaning efforts or just partial dismantling and replacement.

If you do end up replacing the duct, the shortest and straightest path to the outside is the best one for a clothes-dryer vent. For the new vent, use smooth aluminum pipe rather than the pleated, flexible plastic or aluminum foil vent pipes sold at many home centers and hardware stores. Smooth pipes are less likely to trap lint and are therefore safer. On the outside end of the vent pipe, use a cap that will allow lint to pass from inside but will keep out rodents and insects. A cap with small louvers that open only when the dryer is running seems to work well.

Check the vent cap occasionally to make sure it is working properly and that there is no lint buildup there. At least once a year, disconnect the vent at the dryer end and make sure it is free of lint on that end.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at