As with air duct cleaning and chimney cleaning, dryer vent cleaning often entails a few surprising and sometimes disconcerting finds. The diversity of these discoveries and the troubleshooting necessary to resolve them benefit our techs in contributing to their arsenal of skills, and our customers in the form of knowledge and advice conveyed by the tech.
What is dryer vent cleaning?
The purpose of cleaning a dryer vent is to ensure that the line of ductwork that runs from the clothes dryer itself to the vent outside the house is completely clear of lint and other debris. Dryer lint is highly flammable, and a clogged vent is a serious fire hazard.
When cleaning a dryer vent, if the technician does not observe air flow from the outside vent, indicating the line is clear and the ducting is properly connected, he’ll look for the source of the problem; in the absence of air flow, he knows the vent line is either clogged or disconnected. (Want to learn more about the dryer vent cleaning process? Visit our dryer vent cleaning service page.)
How does the technician check for dryer vent disconnects?
One of our technicians, Roy S, recently described how he listens for signs of success or failure.
“I listen, and I can hear my [air] snake go down the vent. If the sound of my snake disappears and all of a sudden there’s nothing, I know my snake has left the vent. When we’re outside cleaning the vent, we can hear it blowing air back at us—we can always hear it. Even if the vent is really dirty, the sound of the snake will get a bit muffled moving past the dirty spots, but we can always hear it. Once the sound cuts out, you know the snake traveled its way through a disconnect.”
He further described how he knows the vent is clear: “When I can hear the motor on the dryer running, that’s how I know everything is clear and there’s no obstruction. Once the line is all clean, you can hear it plain as day. I never leave a job unless I can hear the motor on the dryer.”
This is only one strategy, of course. Different technicians will likely use various strategies, and an experienced technician knows which strategy is most appropriate for the circumstances. (For some foundational knowledge on dryer vent cleaning and how to find an experienced technician/company, download our free tipsheet: 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dryer Vent Cleaning Company.)
What is a dryer vent disconnect and why is it a problem?
In townhomes in particular (for reasons that are unclear), our technicians sometimes find that when a dryer vent runs through the attic, the vent tube is lying on the floor of the attic rather than properly connected to the vent on the roof, spewing its exhaust into the indoor environment of the attic rather than to the outdoors, where it belongs. Obviously this is a very poor practice, as venting a dryer directly into the attic—or anywhere indoors for that matter—can cause a lot of moisture damage to walls, ceilings, and other areas, leading to rotting or mold. In cases where our techs have witnessed this kind of disconnect, customers had often previously noted high levels of moisture or signs of mold in key places, such as the corners of bedrooms and in the attic itself.
Of course, any disconnect needs to be repaired before a proper cleaning can be performed and before the machine is run again. If it is the case that the vent tube is too short, as it is often with the townhome-attic disconnects, it is merely a matter of connecting a new length of flexible ductwork to the old and then connecting it to the outside vent. Sometimes the dryer vent cleaning technician can do this himself, if properly equipped and experienced, and sometimes the customer will be instructed to call a repair company. If the disconnect occurs on a managed multi-unit property, the owners should be made aware, as there are likely other disconnects elsewhere on the property.
Although dryer vent disconnects can cause a lot of damage when left unchecked, once identified, they are often easily repaired/reconnected, and the property owner (and technican) are wiser from the experience.
Many thanks to our technician Roy S, for providing the case notes and quotes for this article.
Wanna dig deeper? Download our free tipsheet: 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dryer Vent Cleaning Company.