How to Clean Your Home’s Dryer Duct

September 12, 2019
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A dryer duct can easily fill with lint and dirt. While this can be gross and unsightly, the largest issue is that a dirty dryer presents a major fire hazard to your home. Lint and debris can easily catch fire from the generated static. Beyond this, a filthy dryer duct can be a drain on your home’s energy, and therefore your time and money.

A dirty dryer duct can also lead to your dryer becoming less effective and inefficient. Loads of laundry may start to take two or three trips through the dryer to become completely dry. If this is the case, check your dryer duct — what may seem like a faulty dryer will likely wind up being dirt and lint build-up.

Locate Your Duct

The first step to cleaning your dryer duct is to locate it. In the back of most dryer units is a short exhaust about 4-inches in diameter. The exhaust connects to ductwork in the wall via pipework that is often made of aluminum or another material. Hot air uses this piping to travel through the house and eventually exit your home. The ductwork inside the wall should connect to an external point on the house. This exit point looks like a cover with flaps that open to allow the escape of air but prevent anything from the outside (such as small animals) from getting in. Once you’ve located this, you’re good to go.

Disconnect Your Dryer

Make sure to disconnect the dryer vent hose on both ends. Disconnect it from the dryer, and from the wall so you can properly clean the entire hose and ducts.

The next step is to safely disconnect your dryer and move it away from the duct. For electric dryers this is a fairly simple task. First, unplug the power cord from the wall. Then remove any clamping or tape connecting the dryer’s vent pipe attached to the exhaust. If it’s easier, one option is to only remove material attaching the vent to the duct inside the wall.

Once you have removed the attaching material, gently pull the venting away from the wall duct. At this point an electric dryer should be easily moved away from the wall to clear up some space to work.

Older dryers that run on natural gas require more care to ensure proper safety. Be careful not to disturb the dryer’s natural gas line. Any excessive movement may cause a natural gas leak. If you are unsure of the safety of your dryer’s gas piping, give us a call and we can check it out.

Clean the Duct

If there is a lot of lint build up, you can start by vacuuming out the hose and duct openings with a standard vacuum. This just helps limit the mess while using a dryer vent cleaning kit.

Now that you’ve moved the dryer, you may clean the duct. For this step you will need a specialized dryer vent cleaning kit. These are easily found at most hardware stores, such as Home Depot, and are usually around $20–$30. These consist of a brush and two attachable, flexible pieces that allow the brush to extend through the entirety of the duct.

From either the interior or exterior entrance to the duct, insert the brush end of the kit into the duct. It’s recommended to go from the exterior in order to work with gravity. This way also means you’ll be pushing the dirt onto the easily-cleanable floor and not the ground outside, which can be quite a challenge.

Make sure to clean the entire duct from both the outside and the inside of the house.

Twist the brush counter-clockwise to grab dirt from the walls of the duct while pushing it through the duct as far as you can. You may need to repeat this process a couple times to be thorough.

Once you’ve pushed the dirt through, you can sweep it up with a broom and dustpan. Expect a hefty amount of lint and debris. While you can vacuum, the amount of debris will likely be a challenge for many vacuum cleaners. The simple, easy method of sweeping it up will make your life easier. Any leftover dust can be vacuumed up in a snap.

Reattach the venting to the wall and plug the dryer back in. Move the dryer back to its original position. Your dryer should now be in proper working order — clean, efficient, and making your laundry dry and warm. Don’t forget to clean your lint tray every time you use your dryer, and if any other dryer or appliance issues seem to pop-up, we’re only a call away.