Venting…about my dryer

31 10 2007

I’ve had this on my to-do list for quite some time  – clean the dryer vent. I don’t mean the lint screen in the dryer itself. I’m very methodical about keeping it clean and clear at all times.  What I’m talking about is the venting from the rear of the dryer all the way to the vent outlet located on the outside of the house. We finally tackled this project last Sunday.

We started by removing the plastic hood that covers the pipe on the outside of the house. With the hood gone, we could see straight into the pipe. You won’t believe what we found. We found a thick coat of matted lint lining the pipe going into the house. The pipe was no where near blocked but…Ugh! Scary! That’s a fire just waiting to happen.


(I didn’t take the photo above (I found it on the web) but I felt it accurately depicts what’s going on in these pipes.)

We then went inside to move the dryer and disconnect the flexible pipe that connects the dryer exhaust to the house pipe. The flexible pipe was pretty clean. The pipe going into the wall was pretty clean from what we could see. When looking into the pipe from the outside, we could see the laundry room light; confirming again the pipe was not blocked.

Now with both ends clear, we had to figure out how to clean 12 feet of pipe enclosed within the wall.  First we started out with a 5 ft drill bit. We used it to scrape the sides of the pipe at each end. It worked pretty good but we knew we weren’t touching all 12 feet of the pipe.

We then came up with the idea of using a painters extension pole. The pole is used by painters to paint cathedral ceilings. When fully extended, the pole was longer than our pipe. We started by trying to scrape the sides of the pipe. Again, it really wasn’t doing the job. The pole reached all the way but it wasn’t cleaning the pipe well. I wanted no trace of flammable lint left in that pipe.

This is when we thought of using a towel. We knew we ran the risk of snagging the towel on something inside the pipe and possibly getting it stuck but we also knew we could reverse the direction if need be. We used the extension pole to push the towel through. A 10 inch thick lint wave poured out of the pipe as the towel pushed through. 

Wow! It’s amazing how much lint was coating the inside of the pipe.  The majority of the lint was concentrated in the pipe closer to the exterior of the house more than anywhere else. A combination of lint and humidity appear to be the main culprit. 

I’m so glad we finally checked this item off our list. I knew there was lint in the pipe but I didn’t expect there to be that much. I’m planning on buying a dryer vent cleaning brush for the next cleaning. I didn’t know they existed until I started putting this post together. Get this, it’s a round brush attached to 20 feet of flexible coil and it’s available from Amazon. I don’t know why I waste my time searching anywhere else. I should always start with Amazon.

If you haven’t cleaned your dryer duct, now’s a good time to do so while the weather is still nice here in the south. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, clothes dryers were associated with 15,000+ fires in 1998.

Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires




2 responses

1 11 2007
U. R. Sister

Timely information! I just recently put cleaning the dryer vent on my to do list. V saw what looked like brown “burnt” marks on the flexible tubing. Upon further investigation, the marks were made by cleaning solvents stored above the dryer. I also found lots of lint beneath and behind the dryer which was the catalyst for the to-do-list entry.

1 11 2007

Lucky for you your dryer sits on an exterior wall. Other than getting your dryer out of the way, it should be an easy job. Let me know if L needs to come up and assist.

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