Warm, dry dryer vents provide a very attractive spot for mice to hunker down or for birds to build their nests, but this can trigger clogging, bad smells, inefficiency, fire hazards, gas leaks, and more.
Fortunately, dryer vent screens can play a role in preventing these issues. …if you buy the right type. Check out our guide below before making any purchases, and be sure you’re regularly checking yours for clogs, too!
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Buying the Right Dryer Vent Screen
The main goals of dryer vent screens are…
- to prevent mice and other rodents/vermin from getting inside of your home
- to limit the amount of hot or cold air that can enter the dryer vent when the dryer is not running
- to prevent water from getting in
- to avoid birds entering and building nests/clogging your vent
And while many can offer you great benefits, there are some things to keep in mind before you purchase yours.
First things first, unless you will be checking an exterior dryer vent screen regularly, do not use a small mesh screen. These may seem like a good idea to keep insects out but they can get clogged with lint very easily, which creates a fire hazard and requires constant cleaning.
Also, most exterior dryer vents are on a wall, but some homes have a roof vent in which case options are more limited. If this is the boat you find yourself in, though, never fear! There are some animal control roof dryer vents available that work very well.
And two vent styles to avoid?
- Don’t opt for the standard slanted aluminum hood and flap door. These generally keep water out just fine, but they rarely close tightly enough to prevent rodents and insects from getting in, and they don’t do a very good job of keeping the hot and cold air out, either.
- Don’t buy a dryer vent with a plastic grid over the opening. These will prevent birds and some rodents from getting it, but most mice and other vermin can easily chew through plastic. These don’t do a great job of keeping air and insects out either.
Tips to Keep Your Dryer Running Safer (& More Efficiently)
Dryer fires are a surprisingly common occurrence here in the U.S. leading to damage, injury, and sometimes death. That said, most can be avoided by following a few simple guidelines:
- Invest in professional dryer vent cleanings annually. …and more often if you have a large family and dry lots of clothes, or if your dryer vent system has many sharp corners.
- Invest in dryer vent maintenance, repairs, and preventative measures, as needed.
- Clean the dryer lint trap after every load of laundry.
- If you use fabric softener, periodically wash the lint trap with soap and hot water using a soft brush. Fabric softener can build up on the lint filter and reduce the air flow through it, especially if you have a very fine lint screen.