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Dryer Vent Cleaning to Improve Dryer Efficiency

Updated on June 23, 2011

Cleaning Dryer Vents Saves Money

Did you know that an eighth inch build up in your dryer vent can reduce your dryer's efficiency by 20%? The longer the dryer vent run, the lower the efficiency. Most dryer manufacturers recommend a vent run of no longer than 12-15 feet with no more than one 90 degree bend.

With the location of laundry appliances in a variety of places in new construction, the laundry is rarely located in a mud room/laundry room anymore with access to the outside. Dryers now have to vent through walls and ceilings, and through layers of floors and through rooms to reach the exhaust point.

It is more important than ever to keep that vent clean and working well.

Low efficiency, slow drying, higher heat, combine to cost you a lot of money and takes it toll on both clothing and the dryer. Proper maintenance of the dryer and the exhaust system is essential for the safe and trouble free operation of a dryer.


Whirlpool Lint Filter
Whirlpool Lint Filter
Clean Back of Dryer
Clean Back of Dryer

Dryer Vent Cleaning

It is important to inspect and clean each part of the airflow exhaust.   Start with the exterior exhaust point.   This should be located outside of the house at least a foot from the ground, a foot from the corner of the house, and not located under a window.

Go outside and inspect the exhaust point outside the house. It is normally a louvered vent or a vent with a closing door. The system or venting may be different depending on climate. In very cold climates, it is more important to have a airtight closure that in a warmer climate and a floating ball or stack may be used. Inspect these exhaust points for lint and debris. Some of these have screens fitted to them to prevent birds and other small animals from nesting in them. The screen must be kept clean for proper air flow out of the dryer.

In extreme cold or hot climates, other measures may have been taken to prevent air infiltration.  Be sure to inspect your system to see if it is other than a normal vent.   An enclosure or modification may be used that requires additional attention for optimal operation of the dryer.



Through the Wall Vent Cleaning

If you have a dryer that vents through the wall, you are lucky indeed. Your vent cleaning problem is practically solved for you. Simply move the dryer so that you can gain access to the back. Disconnect the dryer vent from the dryer and the wall. Inspect the dryer outlet and the through the wall exhaust venting system. A through the wall application is only about 15 inches of travel and is generally direct and easily cleaned.

Look through the vent that goes through the wall, It should be clean and free of all lint and dirt. If is dirty, vacuum it clean and wipe it with a dry cloth. Next inspect the connecting vent, this normally looks like an expandable foil colored 4 inch tube that has a connector for the dryer and the wall.

If the venting is folded over, crimped, flattened, or otherwise out of shape, it may not be performing as designed. Replace it. Almost all hardware stores carry venting material, make sure that you select venting that was specifically designed for a dryer application. Do not use the white plastic stuff, it is not rated for fire.

The proper installation of vent for a dryer calls for it to be as short as possible. Sometimes to achieve this in a cramped installation, you must move the washing machine out of the way so that you can gain access to the back of the dryer.

If it is necessary to have a longer run of vent, make sure that it is not obstructed, folded, pinched or in any way reduced so that it restricts air flow.


Dryer Vent Cleaning for Long Run Installations

Sometimes the dryer vent is routed from a location near the middle of the house. This vent may go through the ceiling, walls, floors, or down and under the house. Sometimes the vent takes turns. Most manufacturers recommend runs of no longer that 15 feet with one 90 degree turn, less than 10 feet with two 90 degree turns and never more than two 90 degree turns should be used. Now we all know that these recommended installation guidelines are not followed by a large percentage of all the installations.

A longer than usual run, or too many turns may in fact work fine for some time, but sooner or later these goofy installations will cause problems.

Rant #1: Did the architect have his head up his posterior? Does he not know that he is designing a problem installation for laundry that will always be a problem?

Okay, got that off my chest. Where was I ?

The only way to handle this kind of an installation is to be vigilant and have cleaning tools and a easy to follow plan handy for a 4 times a year cleaning. Yes, 4 times a year. This will insure that you have an efficiently operating dryer that will last a long time.

The Bare Necessities For Vent Cleaning

A cleaning kit. Order one today. You must be prepared for this and a cleaning kit is necessary.

A ShopVac.

Drill to drive the auger.

Dryer lint brushes.


NOTE:  Most lint cleaning systems are made with plastic parts, the auger, blockage removal tool and various parts are made of plastic.  Although they are safe to use, you should use great caution, applying too much force with the drill or pushing on the rods could cause damage to the tool and the brush could break off in the vent. 

Comments

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    • whitton profile image

      whitton 

      7 years ago

      Great Hub. Very useful information. Its very important to make sure to try and keep your dryer vent clean often. Reports have shown that they can actually be a fire hazard if not kept clean.

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Hey Ben, good luck! Let me know if you have further problems.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Roger that Steve! Looking at it, it's bent in a 90 degree angle also, so along with your other advice (no wire hangers) I 'll aim to realign the vent better.

      Thanks again for the valuable information.

      Ben

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Hey Ben, good to hear from you. Coat hangers will not work well, too stiff. You would be better off tying a rag to a small flexible drain snake. You might find it easiest the put the snake through the vent and then tie a rag onto it and pull it through. If you do this, make sure it is secure, you won't want to lose it half way down.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      ****This is the dryer article I've been looking for!!!***

      Thanks for this Steve! Now it's a matter of tearing open the vent that winds through my attic (some how I believe it's over the 15 foot/90 degree limit you suggest) either way, it'll be good to find out. I might jerry rig my own auger out of wire hangers, hope that's ok!

      Thanks for this valuable information! Now maybe we'll get back to regular drying times!!!

      Ben

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      dallas93444 Glad it helps....yippee! Don't miss my new one on refrigerator efficiency.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Amazing difference. Drys much faster!

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      dallas93444 Good for you, it is a pretty easy thing to do that will reward you in so many ways. Live long and prosper!

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Alison, I hope this keeps your dryer running efficiently for a long long time. Thanks for the comment.

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      LillyGrillzit, thank you for supporting my article....I hope it makes a great big difference!

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR

      SteveoMc 

      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Good for you Paradise7, glad I was able to strengthen your compulsions.....LOL It is always great to get a good reason going for those little things you do that you just know have to be done.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      I just cleaned the vent. Great advice!

    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi, thanks for the information, I always clean the lint filter in the door, but it never occurred to me to clean out the vent hose - what a great tip, thanks!

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Thank you for this very useful Hub. Mercy I am going to bookmark, share, facebook and tweet.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good hub. I ALWAYS clean the lint out of the dryer. It's dirty, to me, not to! Now I found I improved efficiency by doing so. Thank you for a good hub.

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