Step-by-step guide: Unclog a dryer vent

Dryer vents can be hazardous if not maintained properly. Your guide to a clear dryer vent is here!

According to the US Fire Administration, “2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.” Woof. How does this even happen anyway? Well, the hot, moist, linty air produced by clothes dryers escapes out of the property through the dryer vents. But over time, lint and dust can catch and build up along the walls of the vent and ducts. Meanwhile, the air is getting trapped and the clothes aren’t drying. Add heat from an overworking appliance and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

So don’t be a statistic! As a property owner, do yourself a favor and avoid the fire hazards by cleaning out your properties’ dryer vents at least once per year. If you’re not sure when the dryer vent was last cleared, look out for warning signs that could indicate you’re overdue for a cleaning, like a noticeable burning smell, clothes taking longer than usual to dry, or skyrocketing energy bills due to the dryer's inefficiency.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of why you need to clear the vent, let’s go over how exactly to do it. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to unclog your dryer vents:

  1. If you have an electrical dryer, unplug the machine, or if it’s a gas dryer, simply turn the supply valve off.

  2. Pull the dryer away from the wall about one foot or so.

  3. Disconnect the duct from the back of the dryer.

  4. Vacuum out the vent with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac.

  5. Vacuum out the duct or use a dryer duct cleaning brush.

  6. Now locate the vent on the exterior of the property and remove the cover.

  7. Vacuum the exterior vent.

  8. Once you’ve concluded that all lint and debris has been removed from the vents, and that no damage has been made and all safety codes are followed, go ahead and put it all back together.

  9. Reattach the vent cover outside.

  10. Reattach the duct to the back of the dryer.

  11. Plugin (if electric) or twist the valve open (if gas).

  12. Push the appliance back toward the wall.

  13. It’s a good idea to test that everything is secured properly and functioning appropriately while you’re still on-site, so a best practice would be to test the tumble air dry function for a few minutes before you jet.

There you have it! By keeping the area around the dryer clean and regularly cleaning the dryer screen before every use, not only will your clothes look better and dry faster, but you will also be protecting your property.

If you have questions and concerns about your property, reach out to HomeRiff today.