Reasons and Ways to Clean Your Dryer Vent Duct

There are many reasons to regularly clean your dryer vent duct. But did you know neglecting this task can also be a fire hazard?

Here we will address signs and symptoms of full dryer vent ducts and what you can do about it.

Signs and symptomsReasons and Ways to Clean Your Dryer Vent Duct

Longer drying cycles

If you are noticing your clothes dryer taking longer to dry a cycle of clothes, you may have a vent duct build up. Besides the normal buildup of lint in the lint trap, the vent duct can become lined with lint, which slows the warm air in the dyer from freely blowing the moisture out of the vent.

Blown thermal fuse

The thermal fuse is a safety device in a dryer, designed to shut the dryer off to protect it from overheating. This fuse can blow when there is too much of a lint build up in the vent duct, causing the heat to stop warming the dryer.

This can mean a dryer cycle completes and the clothes are still cool and wet. No matter how many times the load is restarted, the clothes will not dry without replacing the thermal fuse. However, replacing the thermal fuse without removing the lint from the dryer vent duct will only cause the fuse to blow again, leading to wasted time and money.

How to clean and what you’ll need

Get a dryer vent cleaning kit

For around twenty dollars, you can purchase a dryer vent cleaning kit. It will include an instruction manual as well as a vent brush, clog removal tool, a drill adapter to put the cleaning rods onto your drill, and an assortment of rods.

Most dryer vent cleaning kits come with twelve feet of cleaning rods, however, if you have a longer dryer vent duct, you may want to purchase a rod extension kit to make cleaning longer ducts easier. This will usually increase the rod length from twelve to twenty-four feet.

Turn off dryer gas or electricity

If you have an electric dryer, you can simply move the dryer forward enough to reach the power supply and unplug the dryer’s power cord. If you have a gas dryer, turn off the gas supply and disconnect the gas lines.

Disconnect dryer vent

When the dryer is pulled forward and the electricity or gas is off, you will see the dryer vent. There is a band clamp that will need to be unscrewed to separate the dryer vent from the wall. You will need a screwdriver to unscrew the clamp.

Once the clamp is loosened, you can gently pull the dryer vent hose off the end.

Locate exterior vent

If it is easy to remove the exterior vent cover, this will make it easier to access the dryer vent duct. The vent cover should be cleaned and have lint build up wiped off or suctioned off with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac.

Attach vent brush to rod

Take one of the cleaning rods and attach the vent brush to the threaded end of it. If your kit includes a screw to hold the brush in place, be sure to screw it in to ensure the brush stays in place through insertion and removal of the brush into and out of the dryer vent duct.

Once the brush is screwed on tightly, attach the other end of the cleaning rod to your drill. The cleaning process can be done without a drill but will require much more effort.

Shop Vac Adapter (Optional)

Some cleaning kits come with a shop vac adapter. While this is optional, it is very beneficial to use because it will keep the lint from emptying outside the exterior vent or coming back into the laundry room and making a mess.

If you have a shop vac, attach the shop vac adaptor and place the cleaning rod into the other hole in the adaptor.

Use the drill to spin the brush

Make sure the drill is set to forward/clockwise motion, so the cleaning rod rotates the brush and begins moving the lint. If you are cleaning your vent without a drill, begin twisting the cleaning rod while slowly extending it further into the vent.

If you are using a shop vac, turn it on to begin collecting the dislodged lint from the dryer vent duct. Slowly move the cleaning rod in and out of the vent duct to ensure every area of the twelve-foot length is getting thoroughly cleaning.

Add additional cleaning rods

If you have not reached the exterior vent using the first single cleaning rod, remove the drill and add an additional cleaning rod to extend the length of the cleaning area. Reconnect the drill and continue with the in and out motion of moving the cleaning rod through the vent duct.

This should continue until the entire duct is clean and the brush is bumping up against the exterior vent or exiting the exterior vent of the house.

Upon completion

When the brush extends to the exterior vent, it may escape through and cause some friction coming back. Do not force the brush back through, because the exterior vent usually has a flapper door in place. If the brush has extended beyond the flap, you may have to go to the exterior vent and gently wiggle the brush back into the flapper door so the cleaning rod can be removed from the vent duct.

Once the cleaning rods and brush have been removed from the vent duct, you can reattach the duct to the vent by tightening the clamp, then restore electricity or gas to the dryer.

Cleaning frequency

Dryer vents should be cleaned once a year to maintain a lint-free vent duct and minimize the risk of this fire hazard in the home.

For all of your heating and cooling needs, contact us at Pilchuck Heating.

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