Every year, thousands of property owners report house fires because of dryers. The major cause of these fires is a dirty venting system because of lint accumulation.
Many people clean the lint trap regularly but overlook the venting system. The dryer vent houses lint and, failure to clean can lead to lint build-up and subsequently clogging of the entire system.
Here, we have a comprehensive guide on how to clean a dryer vent. We also have an in-depth analysis of the dryer vent, the importance of cleaning, products, and everything you need to know. Let’s jump straight into the discussion.
Clean Like a Pro- Here Is Some Easy Steps
If your dryer venting system extends from the basement to the roof, the clean-up can seem like a complicated job. However, knowing the basic cleaning procedure will ensure your dryer runs efficiently for many years. Here is the step-by-step approach to cleaning your dryer vent.
1# First Understand your venting system
What comprises the venting system? Before you purge the entire venting system, it’s essential to understand where it starts and ends. You’ll need to know where the vent is located.
The venting system starts right from your dryer to the external unit. Dryers connect to an exhaust pipe that attaches to the vent inside a wall.
At the back of your dryer, you’ll find the exhaust pipe that connects to the vent work inside an opening in the wall via an aluminum or steel vent. Hot air from the dryer transcends through the pipe and is emitted to the outside.
Sometimes, you’ll find that the exhaust joins a vent at a wall inside the laundry room. If the laundry room is in the basement, the vent exits to the outside via the roof. Also, it may extend just above the ground. The external part has a plastic cover with openings that allow hot air to exit.
When you toss your clothes into the dryer for cleaning, they produce warm and moist air. Lint accompanies the air from your laundry but doesn’t escape into the outside since the lint trap gets hold of it. However, it can get stuck in the walls of the duct, and failure to clean can lead to a buildup.
Additionally, if the duct pipe has a curvy interior or is bendable, lint can find a haven in there which is hazardous.
It gets more complex if the venting pipe leads to the roof of the building right from the basement. In such a case, you’ll need a professional to clean the entire system using specialized equipment.
2# Identify The Signs Of A Clogged Dryer Vent
The first step in cleaning your dryer vent is to identify the red flags that signal clogging or blockage. Since dryer fires are hazardous, this step is crucial since you might save your property from damage and will save lives too.
Learn More: 10 Professional Tips About Prevents Your Dryer Fire
- The first sign that your dryer vent is clogged is when your clothes take time to dry and feel warm. You open your dryer and instead of finding warm and fluffy clothes, all you see is a load of damp and wrinkly garments.
This occurs due to the moist and hot air that gets blocked inside the dryer because the venting pipe is blocked. Normally, it takes two to three cycles for your clothes to dry. If it takes longer, the risk of wear and energy use increases. Also, your laundry room may feel hot and with a lot of humidity as your clothes are drying.
- Also, your appliance may feel very hot since hot air is having trouble escaping. You may think that your dryer is faulty; however, this may not be the case. When hot air cannot escape, your clothes will take a long period to dry. Subsequently, the dryer overworks and becomes too hot.
- Lint everywhere is a signal that the venting system is not emitting hot air as it should. Plus, the lint screen fills up faster than it should.
- Sometimes, mold may form on your walls, on the ceiling, door, and many other places in your laundry room. It happens when moist air is expelled back into the laundry room and settles on surfaces.
3# Assemble Tools And Materials
Cleaning your dryer vent improves the machine’s performance and prevents overheating, which can cause a fire. Before you begin the cleanup exercise, it’s important to have the materials ready. For this task, you’ll need the following items.
I suggest a long and flexible rod for cleaning the vent. Consider one with a rotating brush for navigating the bends and curves. Also, you’ll need to connect it to an air compressor for powerful cleaning and to achieve the best result.
If you don’t have an air compressor, you can use a vacuum cleaner to blow the lint. A dryer vent kit delivers better results and saves on expensive repairs of your dryer.
4# Inspect The Dryer Vent For Repairs And Replacement
Before you decide whether to clean your dryer vent, you may need to inspect the ductwork for damage. You can use a light beam to whether it has bends, it’s broken. Here, it’ll require urgent replacement with a sturdier option.
I suggest Z-Vent Stainless Steel Vent Pipe which comprises stainless steel. This pipe is smooth with no bends or curves, which is an essential consideration for venting systems.
Replacing requires the use of special tools since you may need to drill through the walls. If it’s a small ductwork, you can do it yourself; however, if it goes over the roof you’ll need to contact a professional who will use specialized equipment.
5# Disconnect The Dryer From The Electric Connection
Whenever you’re cleaning the vent system or any appliance at home, start by disconnecting from the power source. Unplug the appliance or switch off the electrical connection before the cleanup. It’s a simple task that will take only a few minutes. Then pull your dryer from the wall to have clear access to the vent.
If your dryer runs on natural gases, you need to be careful as disturbing the gas line can lead to a leakage. Ensure it properly secures the steel hose attached to the gas pipe as gas leakages are dangerous. If you are not confident enough, contact a professional to get the work done.
The next step is to disconnect the vent hose from the dryer. Use a screwdriver to remove screws and clamps that connect the dryer hose to the wall.
6# Clean The Dryer Duct From Inside The House
Now that you have unrestricted access to the dryer vent opening at the wall, you can begin the cleanup task. Many things can cause speed up the accumulation of lint inside the ductwork.
A broken duct cover can increase the accumulation of lint inside the vent. A vent cover prevents infiltration by insects, rodents, and birds. When left exposed, these will find a shelter because of the warmness, especially during winter. In particular, birds will form a nest and this blocks the pathway for hot air and lint.
Poorly done ductwork is another reason the lint will accumulate in the venting pipe. It’s important to use approved material for your dryer vent. Rigid metal is an ideal choice than PVC pipes since they’re more stable and don’t bend. Plastic vents are likely to crack and the gaps will allow lint to escape.
Begin by clearing off the lint on the moisture sensors of your dryer. Apply alcohol on a cotton ball and rub down gently.
I suggest you purchase a specialized cleaning kit for this job. This package is available online for a quick buy. I particularly like the Dryer Cleaning Kit from Aozzy Store that comes as a complete package. There are many reasons I would choose this kit over other kits. It is reasonably priced and a good option for DIY enthusiasts on a budget.
Inside the package, there are two synthetic brush heads and eighteen flexible rods. Impressively, the rod can extend upto24 feet and, therefore, it’s an ideal choice if your dryer vent extends from the basement to the roof. Also, it’s durable and with flexibility, it’s suitable for use on chimneys and narrow pipes.
There’s also a dryer bent brush that is gentle on the pipes and doesn’t scratch the surfaces, ensuring high-efficiency cleaning. Another item is the tiny lint brush for getting rid of lint trapped at the opening between the exhaust port and the dryer.
The kit is practical and you can use it with a power drill for better results. However, if you have no power drill, you can still use it manually by lowering it deep inside the ductwork.
Start by cleaning the hose, which can be difficult depending on the length of the pipe. For efficiency, use a need vacuum cleaner to pull the lint from either side. Attach the brush to a power drill and insert the head inside the ductwork. Ensure the vent brush rotates at low speed to prevent tearing the flexible duct.
Then, use a lint brush to clear trapped lint. If the hose is long, use a slender and flexible wire to remove debris stuck inside. Be careful not to damage the dryer hose. Suck the lint on the opening and push it inside while maneuvering gently around the ductwork.
If you can’t push the brush entirely inside the duct or the rod is not long enough, try cleaning from the outside.
7# Clean The Dryer Duct From Outside The House
After cleaning inside, the next step is to clean the external part of the vent. Identify the location of the outdoor vent and look inside for dirt and debris. If it’s located on the roof, you’ll need to use a ladder to climb to the roof. You need to be careful and wear safety gear such as helmets and gloves.
The advantage of hiring an expert to clean above the roof is that they have special tools and are trained to handle such projects. In addition, they have insurance against risks associated with their nature of work.
The procedure is the same as cleaning the duct from inside. However, the cleanup is more intense due to the blockage by external debris like a bird’s nest.
- Using a screwdriver, remove the vent cover. Clear off the lint at the pathway until the dryer vent is free of any obstruction. Attach the spinning brush.
- With the rod is spinning, push the rotating brush further inside the ductwork. If it’s long enough, it can reach the other end. Keep in mind that there may be turns and twists along the venting pipe and hence you’ll need to be more careful not to damage the ductwork.
Although it’s important to clean your external duct regularly, there are some things you can do to keep off debris and dust. The first thing is to have a clean compound and ensure the grass is well-trimmed. Don’t allow leaves, grass, or pine straw from blocking the vent.
Also, don’t allow a pile-up of snow in front of your dryer vent as the snow can freeze and cause problems. Also, a clean compound keeps away pests, birds, and rodents.
8# Tidy Up And Reconnect The Dryer
Next, return the vent cover and climb down. Push the dryer to its original position and reconnect to the electric outlet. You can do a quick trial test to confirm if the appliance is running.
How Many Times Should You Clean Your Dryer Vent Every Year?
Most safety bodies recommend cleaning your dryer, venting pipe at least once a year. However, depending on several factors, you can increase the cleaning sessions every year. If you have a large household, it means the laundry requirements are high due to the high load. Therefore, you’ll need to schedule regular maintenance for your dryer vent.
Your vent location will also determine how many times you’ll clean the pipe yearly. If the vent exits up above the roof, it can be difficult climbing on the roof every so often. Sometimes you’ll need to hire a dryer vent cleaning expert who’ll use special equipment to clean.
If you have pets at home, there is a high risk of vent blockage and construction. It’s because pets’ hair gets on your clothes, blankets, beddings, robes, and more. Eventually, these will get to the lint trap but some will escape from the dryer vent alongside other tiny particles.
When this happens, there will be balls of lint that will clog the venting pipe. For this reason, you’ll need a regular maintenance schedule of your venting system.
Reasons Why You Should Clean A Dryer Vent?
The lint trap holds lint as the air escapes into the outside. However, cleaning it is not enough as the lint can still get stuck inside the vent. Here are the reasons to clean the dryer vent.
Boost your dryer’s efficiency
Dryers use electricity to clean clothes and are some of the highest consumers of energy at homes. For this reason, you’d want to ensure that your dryer is running efficiently and free from any malfunction that may increase energy use.
One way to boost your dryer’s efficiency is to ensure the venting pipe is clean. A lint-filled duct will have trouble expelling hot and moist air to the outside. Therefore, your clothes will take time to dry and this will increase your energy consumption.
A well-maintained dryer can last up to fourteen years; however, you can extend the shelf life by regularly cleaning the venting system.
Prevent house fires
Lint is tiny particles that come from laundry and are expelled alongside moisture, air. These elements cause sparks that can ignite a fire when they come into contact with other items. No homeowner would want their house to go up in flames. That’s why it’s important to ensure your venting pipe is clean and free of lint.
Protect the value of your property
As the moist air struggles to escape, it’s pushed back into the room and settles on your walls, doors, ceiling, and any surface. When this happens, there will be a likelihood of mold build-up which can devalue your property. To protect your property value, it’s vital to clean the dryer vent thoroughly.
To protect your garments
A clogged vent prevents a smooth emission of hot and moist air from the clothes. It interferes with the drying cycle and prolongs the drying time. Your clothes will appear scorched and damp. They’ll not smell fresh or feel dry and soft.
During winter, small molds will form on the garments and this leads to discoloration, especially on bright-colored clothes.
Dryer Vent Cleaning Tips
The following tips are essential in ensuring your dryer vent remains clean for better days ahead.
- Understand the manufacture’s guidelines and instructions before you begin the cleanup exercise. There may be some caution or specific rules which you need to be aware of depending on your model.
- Be able to tell the difference between a lint screen, lint trap, and dryer vent. These are separate units of the venting system. The vent connects to the dryer exhaust whereas the trap and screen are found at the top of the dryer or inside the door.
I recommend cleaning the screen with a damp cloth after every load. It’s a simple task since you only need to lift the screen and wipe off the lint.
You can get rid of lint from the lint trap using a vacuum or a long brush. Keeping the lint trap and screen clean helps to prevent a build-up of lint inside the dryer vent.
- It’s essential to maintain a dryer vent cleaning schedule at least once a year. However, you can increase the cleaning intervals depending on your household laundry needs.
- There are some warning signals that your dryer requires urgent inspection and clean-up. Do not wait until things go bad to act as it might be too late.
- After washing lint-prone laundries such as terry cloth, flannel, or pet bedding, hang them outside to dry. Drying them in the dryer will accelerate the lint build-up. Ensure your dryer’s tub is clean and avoid overloading the appliance.
- Fabric softener sheets can also cause regular blocking of the filter. You can test whether the dryer filter is clean by pouring little water on the lint screen. If water cannot flow through, wash it and rinse thoroughly.
- Your dryer drum may not require cleaning, however, lint hairs can settle on the surface. Simply wipe off with a damp cloth to eliminate the grit. If small objects like gum and crayons get into the dryer, scrap off with a rubber spatula. Then wipe with a damp cloth.
If you’re not sure whether to clean the entire venting system or if you notice cracks and bends, call an expert to inspect and clean. A thorough clean-up of the entire system can keep your appliance running efficiently and save on power bills.
Dryer vents or ducts accumulate lint which is the primary cause of house fires. A clogged vent can burn and damage the dryer’s electrical element. Therefore, cleaning your dryer vent helps in averting tragedies such as house fires and saves property and lives.
Also, it helps in ensuring your dryer is running optimally, which can help save on power bills. For small ductwork, you may not need to hire a professional cleaner, however, for complicated systems, contact our experts who will schedule a clean-up exercise.