Dryer Vent Maintenance

As a firefighter, responding to fires caused by overheating and ignition of lint deposits in dryer vents were more common than you may think. Dryers emit a large amount of water vapor from your clothes as they dry. Did you know that the average load of wet laundry contains approximately one half of a gallon of water? When this water vapor mixes with the lint from your clothes it causes the lint to stick to the inner walls of the dryer vent. Over time the lint accumulates and builds on itself and if not removed, poses a risk for a fire hazard if overheated.

As little as ½” thickness of lint build up in the vent duct can cut down the efficiency of your dryer by almost half, using more energy, and prolonging the drying time of your clothes. If your dryer operates using natural gas, it also vents carbon monoxide to the outside atmosphere. Obstructed venting by lint or animal nesting may cause a back-up of this harmful (colorless and odorless) gas back into the home!

One of the most common hazards found out in the field is the improper installation of dryer venting. Too long of a run, dips and kinks in the venting, too many elbows in the line, or even the wrong venting material can all invite the risk of a dryer fire. Proper unrestricted flow in the venting system is crucial to ensure the efficiency and safety of your dryer. Part of the inspection of your dryer vent is to make sure the venting design is adequate enough to minimize turbulence and restriction which can result in the buildup of excess lint causing a dryer fire.


First, the dryer is disconnected from the power source and/or the gas supply and the vent is removed from the back of the dryer. A large vacuum hose with an attached cleaning adaptor is then connected directly to the dryer vent inside the home. Our HEPA vacuum has three motors allowing for a powerful suction as the dryer vent is cleaned with rotating brushes attached to flexible rods which are operated by a drill. This method is very effective in agitating the lint as it is pushed into the vacuum stream. The store bought “push – pull” rod and brush is not as effective because it drags the lint throughout the vent pipe, leaving significant amounts of lint within the pipe and fittings.

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