How to Clean Your Dryer Vent


Your common residential dryer requires a vent to take the heated air that is used within the dryer to dry your clothes and direct it to the exterior of your home. This dryer vent is normally a round aluminum or metal vent that starts at the back of the dryer, and runs out in the floor or ceiling joists, to a vent that is located on the exterior of the home. This vent is normally on an exterior wall of the home, but will in some cases exit the roof. Both the wall vent and the roof vent will be equipped with a vent flap that opens upon the pressure from the dryer, and closes when the dryer is not operating and therefore blowing hot humid air.

What occurs in basically all cases is that the vents become restricted, due to the accumulation of the lint and wet particles that are in the wet air that results from the drying of your clothes. In all instances, this dryer vent must be cleaned to allow a full and unobstructed flow of air from the dryer to the exterior. Any piece of equipment, if vented, runs at its most efficient when the flow of air is unobstructed.

So with that being said, the dryer vent must be cleaned on occasion to allow the dryer to work at its most efficient level of operation.

The most efficient means of cleaning your dryer vent is to simply open the flap and pull out the lint and accumulated debris from the interior of the vent by hand. In most instances the vent is round and smooth and the removal of the lint and debris will be very easy. In some instances, there may be a layer of accumulated scum on the interior walls of the vent pipe. This is normally easily removed by a rag or sponge inserted in the end of the vent opening.

The use of tongs or long needle nose pliers can also assist you in pulling out the material that has accumulated. In most instances the blockage or restrictions are at the outer end of the vent and not at the dryer end. However, there is always the possibility that there could be restrictions at the dryer end, so the removal of the vent from the dryer and the cleaning of the vent at this end is also recommended.

In some cases, the blockage or restriction could be deeper into the vent line, where there is no visual identification of the material in the vent line. If this is the case, we would recommend the use of a shop vacuums hose in the vent itself. If the hose is not long enough to reach the full length of the dryer vent, the attachment of a flexible auxiliary hose, such as a pool filter hose is recommended. This attachment can be as simple as a taped joint between the end of the vacuum hose and the auxiliary hose. This does not have to be fancy, scotch tape, duct tape or electrical tape could be used. The entire idea is to have suction within a long enough piece of flexible hose to reach the obstruction.

Obviously if none of these techniques seems to work, the use of a professional cleaning service that specializes in duct cleaning is highly recommended. However, in almost all situations, the homeowner should be capable of cleaning their dryer exhaust.
The obvious test for a clear vent hose is a full and powerful blast of warm, wet air from the end of the vent when the dryer is on. This is a closed system, so if the dryer is functioning properly, the air flow should be strong and easily identifiable.