Jul 6, 2020

Cleaning

Dryer Vent Cleaning & Maintenance Tips

Clean your dryer vent regularly to prevent a dryer fire and dangerous lint build-up. We'll walk you through, step by step.

Here are a few simple ways to clean your home’s dryer vent to ensure the efficiency and safety of this essential home appliance.

When you’re writing up your home maintenance list, make sure to add the dryer vent. No, not that readily accessible lint filter inside your clothes dryer — although clean that, too. We’re referring to that larger duct (vent, tube, whatever you want to call it) that leads from the dryer to the outdoors.

Is cleaning the dryer duct really necessary?

Yes! Not just necessary — mandatory. Did you know the leading cause of home fires in Canada is due to lint buildup in the dryer vent? Some simple maintenance for your clothes dryer is key.

Safety is the biggie here with cleaning your dryer vent, but clogged ducts also affect your machine’s efficiency and can potentially shorten your dryer’s lifespan. Not a fan of buying a new clothes dryer prematurely? Neither are we. Check out the list below for some simple tips on how to better maintain your dryer and increase its lifespan.

Signs of lint buildup

  • Clothes take longer to dry or remain damp at the end of a cycle
  • Clothes are hotter than normal at the end of a cycle
  • Dryer’s exterior is very hot to the touch
  • Laundry room feels humid
  • Lingering burnt smell in the laundry room
  • Outside exhaust vent flapper does not open often, which means the dryer exhaust is not moving swiftly

You can clean dryer vents yourself. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vacuum with a long hose attachment
  • Dryer vent brush kit*
  • Screwdrivers
  • UL-listed metal foil duct tape

*What’s a Dryer Vent Brush Kit? (we knew that would be your next question)

Standard vacuum attachments can’t reach deep inside the dryer’s duct work and agitate it free, but a brush kit can. They should contain two pieces:

  • Long-bristle brush to clean the lint filter area
  • Round-bristled brush with extendable pole

Safety first

Remember that flexible plastic or metal foil ductwork you used to see running from the dryer to the outside vent? It kind of looked like part of a homemade robot Halloween costume? Yeah, those are forbidden now because the ribbed inside surfaces can easily trap lint. Best to update this old-school ductwork with a smooth-walled option. But, if you can’t replace it, then just be hyper-vigilant about vacuuming it out.

Cleaning day has arrived, follow these steps:

  1. Unplug your dryer (if it’s gas-powered, turn the supply valve off while you work) and disconnect duct from the machine
  2. Vacuum lint trap housing with the long flexible brush
  3. Check duct work for damage—Replace if damaged, punctured or kinked
  4. Attach round-duct brush to flexible fiberglass pole and insert into each duct section, sweeping it clean by using a rotating, back-and-forth motion
  5. Add more sections to flexible rod until you reach the end of the rigid duct—Repeat until no more lint comes out
  6. Check vent cap at exterior to ensure it’s clean and works properly
  7. Reattach ductwork when job is complete
  8. Seal permanent duct sections with UL-listed metal foil duct tape—Do not use regular plastic duct tape, which dries out and fails over time
  9. Run the dryer to confirm it’s venting properly

Note: Some brush kits can be connected to a portable drill to spin the brush inside the duct. If you use this option, run the drill at slow speed and advance the brush gradually through the duct.

Fire prevention

  • Clear your dryer filter after every load
  • Clean your ducts twice per year
  • Only operate dryer when you are home
  • Attach a safety alarm to the dryer—It can warn you when lint builds up

DIY or hire the big guys?

See? It is possible to clean your own dryer vents! But, if your dryer vent is on the roof of your house, or if you are just not up to this handyman (or woman) task, Rümi’s happy to help.

It’s important this household job receives regular attention. So, whether you do it yourself or call in a professional, what’s most important is this chore gets ticked off that to-do list.

Worried about repair bills?

A home protection plan can protect your wallet when a sudden breakdown happens on your core home appliances or systems. Check out our Appliance Protection Plan for warranty coverage on your washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator and stove. The Home Systems Protection Plan covers plumbing, electrical, central heating, air conditioning and hot water tank components of owned units. Want it all? Get full coverage with the Whole Home Protection Plan.

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