Laundry day again. This time of year, outdoor lines are seeing a little less action, what with the frequent rains we have been  seeing , as well as the fewer hours of daylight to dry your clothes with out-of-doors. That means that the dryer in your laundry room is put through its paces once again. While most people realize that they have to clean the interior dryer vent after every load, what you might not realize is that you should also clean the vent tube that exhausts to the outside world at least every six months. Dryer vent fires are a serious threat and are linked to over 12,000 fires every year in the US. Those are pretty sobering statistics. If this is a revelation for you, then perhaps you should read on for some simple tips on how to clean your dryer vent. It will save you money and possibly even your life, so add it to the list of your seasonal maintenance tasks around the house.


Step One:

The first thing you should do is to unplug the dryer, be it electric or gas. If it is a gas dryer, it is also a good idea to shut off the gas as well.

Step Two:

Once the dryer has been unplugged, pull it away from the wall about one to two feet (~500cm). With a screwdriver, gently loosen the vent clamp at the back of the dryer and slide the vent off of the dryer.

Step Three:

You might want to put on gloves at this point, as now is when you will get dirty. With your hand, remove any lint from inside the dryer, as well as from inside the vent tube. If you are not partial to the dirty fingernails that will ensue, grab the shop vac and let it do the dirty work for you. With care, you can use it to suck the lint from both the dryer and the vent tube.

Step Four:

Once the dryer and vent tube have been cleaned of lint, reattach the tube to the dryer. Slide the clamp back in place, making sure to tighten it, before pushing your dryer back into place.

Step Five:

Head outside to the exterior vent cover. Carefully pull the cover off. If there is caulking surrounding it, scrape it away and discard the old caulking. Now you can gently pull the cover with attached foot-long tube out and proceed to remove any lint in the tube or hole. If your arm or vacuum aren’t sufficient to reach all the lint, a bent clothes hanger will do the trick. Once all the lint has been removed, slide the tube back into place.

Step Six:

Turn the gas back on and plug your dryer in. Run the dryer for a few minutes to make sure that there are no further obstructions and air flow is back to normal. Now grab your dirty clothes and get laundering!

One last thing, before I let you get to the task at hand. While you are in the laundry room, look at the actual vent tube that is installed. If you see a ridged plastic or foil tube, then perhaps you might want to consider replacing it. If you have a straight rigid metal vent tube, then good for you! Rigid tubes have less bends and pockets for lint to collect in. They are also less prone to getting crushed, which also reduces air flow in your dryer. Never fear though, if after reading this seasonal tip, you are feeling a little inadequate in the DIY department. Knowledge is half the battle. The other half is knowing when to call in a professional. They do it for a living and you can be glad to know that you will be saving money regardless. A clean dryer uses less energy to dry your clothes, in a shorter time period.

Hey,  that means I just saved you some time too! All in a days work in your neighbourhood.