How To Clean A Dryer Duct

By Robert Robillard on How To

Cleaning A Dryer Vent:

When you consider that 15,000 fires start in the laundry room every year and that these fires are mostly due to lint build up in the clothes dryer or a clogged dryer duct it makes you wonder why we don’t do something about it.  Annual dryer duct cleaning will ensure you avoid these possible issues.

Cleaning Dryer Vent


When you further consider that these fires result in 10 deaths and 310 injuries per year I just shake my head.  [stats according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission]

Can you imaging if this happened to your family?  Your children?

Instead of fretting do something . . . clean your dryer ducts!

Many dryer fires are attributed to lint accumulation inside the dryer or dryer duct work. Failure to clean the lint trap is the most likely cause of massive lint build up.  You should clean the lint trap EVERY time you use the dryer.


How To Clean A Dryer Duct

Does Your Dryer Vent Need To Be Cleaned?

Determining if your dryer duct is full of lint and in need of cleaning can be straightforward. The clue is noticing if your clothes dryer is taking longer to dry a load of clothes, actually taking two and three cycles to dry clothes that once dried in one.

If your clothes come out hot after the last cycle then you can usually rule your your heating element.

Inspect the exterior vent flap when the dryer is in use.  Make sure there are no exterior obstructions like bird, mouse or bee nests.  The air velocity should open this vent wide open. If the exterior flapper barely opens then your airflow is minimal and your duct may need to be cleaned or shortened.

When dryers are located a short distance from an outside wall, the short, straight exhaust duct runs worked well, and leaves little need for maintenance and making inspecting easy. Many laundry rooms today are situated deeper inside homes with long runs and several elbows, often resulting in restrictive airflow. Many times these pipes are buried in finished ceilings or floors.

Here are some clues to look for:

  • Clothes take an unusually long time to dry
  • Clothes are hotter than usual at the end of the cycle
  • Outside of dryer feels unusually hot
  • Exterior vent flap barely opens when dryer is on
  • Laundry room feels warmer or more humid than normal
  • Unexplained moisture stains appear in ceiling below exhaust pipe
  • Burnt smell when using machine
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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of and ToolBoxBuzz, and a has a weekly column in the Sunday Boston Globe. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Contact Rob at:

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