Your dryer duct is a fire hazard! Here’s how to clean it in 5 steps.
Dirty dryer ducts aren’t just disgusting, they’re a serious fire hazard. In fact, one major cause of house fires is dusty, lint-filled dryer ductwork. Even if a grimy dryer duct doesn’t immediately do damage to your home, it’ll waste your time, energy and money.
A dryer connected to a duct filled with lint and other debris won’t work well either. If your dryer once polished off wet loads in one cycle or less but now needs two or even three, check your venting. Chances are it’s not your dryer that’s faulty — just clogged ductwork that’s to blame.
Step 1: Locate your duct
In order to properly clean your dryer’s ventilation system, you have to first know where it is and where it ends. In back of most dryer units is a short 4-inch diameter exhaust. This exhaust connects to dedicated ductwork inside the wall through an aluminum elbow or other pipe. Hot air travels along these metal pipes to eventually emerge through an opening on an outside wall of your house.
Step 2: Safely disconnect the dryer
Now that you know the start and end points of your duct, it’s time to disconnect the dryer. It’s a simple task if you own an electric dryer. First unplug the machine’s power cord from the wall outlet. Next remove any metal tape or clamps keeping the dryer vent pipe fixed to its exhaust. If it’s easier you might only want to remove material attaching the vent to the duct inside the wall.
Gently pull the vent pipe away from the wall duct. If your dryer is electric you should be able to push the appliance out of the way without any issues. This will open up more space to work.
Homeowners with dryers that run on natural gas need to be more careful. Make sure not to disturb the dryer’s gas line too much if you need to reposition the unit. Like gas ranges, the fuel hookup usually consists of a flexible steel hose. The hose should be tightly attached but it’s best to play it safe. Gas leaks are serious and dangerous business. If at any point you’re unsure, call in a professional.
Step 3: Clean, clean, clean
At this point you should have clear access to the dryer duct opening at the laundry room wall. You can also easily get at the exit point outside the house by removing its duct flap or duct cover. Next you need to buy a specialized dryer vent cleaning kit. It consists of a lint brush and six 2-foot-long flexible segments. You join these parts together to form a rod that spans a full 12 feet.
Insert the brush end of the rod into your duct. While spinning the rod (counter clockwise to avoid unscrewing its segments), push the brush as far as you can down the duct. Keep in mind the process might take a few tries depending how many twists and turns your ductwork may have.
Step 4: Tidy up, reconnect everything
After everything is tidy, put everything back the way it was — with one exception. If your dryer used a soft foil-style vent to link to the wall duct, get rid of it. Adjustable yet hard, they’re durable and provide the best airflow period.
Step 5: Do a trial run and smile
No doubt about it. Giving your dryer duct a thorough cleaning is sweaty, messy work. Two years of duct neglect was all it took to effectively cripple your dryer. A quick trial run post-cleaning, however, confirm your dryer will regain all its power. And you will not to buy an expensive new unit, on the risk of a scary dryer fire.