The recent story of two young children dying in a North Hero fire really got to me. The cause of the fire was determined to be a dryer vent that had not been cleaned. As a home inspector, I always look at the dryer vent and make a point of including it on my list of concerns if it needs cleaning. It is such an easy thing to forget about or ignore, but when the duct gets plugged with a thick coating of lint, it can be a serious fire hazard. If your dryer vent has not been cleaned in a while, DO IT THIS WEEK! There are a number of companies that you can hire to do the job if you are not a DIY'er. Servpro of Burlington/Middlebury is one such firm. Shawn Zwick is the guy to contact. 802-497-7436, email@example.com. This is serious business so don't put it off, and be sure to check it annually!
While you are focused on this issue, check out the type of vent duct you have installed in the house. Make sure it is METAL DUCT, not flexible mylar or vinyl. The flexible materials have an irregular surface which tends to catch and hold bits of lint more than smooth walled metal duct. The mylar duct has actually been called out as a fire hazard by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. You don't want that as part of your dryer vent assembly, so if you find it, replace it. The challenge is usually accessing the back of the dryer to connect the duct. If you need a flexible section to do this, make sure it is the flexible METAL duct. That has very small ridges that allow it to bend when the dryer is pushed back into place.
Thanks for reading. You will sleep better at night after you have a clean dryer vent!