Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Happy Venting - Cleaning The Wall Dryer Vent to the Outside

My sister bought my mother a new blanket for Christmas. I would have warned my sister about this particular type of blanket prior to her purchase had I been there. We have had these type of blanket before and when you wash them, they come apart in the dryer causing lint on everything for several washes and drys after you wash and dry the offending blanket. It doesn't matter how many times you wash it, it piths everywhere each time. 

My girls received this type of blanket from their dad many years ago and we ended up throwing them out as the amount of lint coming off was horrible. It didn't take me more than two washes, lint on all my clothes and black dots on my carpets through the house before getting rid of this blanket. 

The horror didn't end there. When I put it in the dryer the first time, it caused my dryer to shut off saying "Check vent" in a red flashing light on the display. Of course it was nighttime and I needed to get the clothes dried. I cleaned the vent inside the dryer which I will post about tomorrow.

Cleaning the inside vent did not fix the red flashing, "check vent" sign on the front of the dryer. With that, I went out and checked the outside dryer vent to the outside of the house and found that there was lint in it. I have had to clean that vent about once a year. Whoever installed my dryer to the outside wanted it to vent in the back of the house rather than the side of the house. Doing it this way made for 2 right angles in the line. This has caused some problems over the years as the vent is so long  that it gets clogged easily and is harder to clean due to the angles involved. 

I used to use a hanger / wire to clean it out until I had the repair man here once and he had this really cool dryer vent cleaning brush. He let me use it but his was well worn and due to the angle of my vent, I broke the wire handle on his brush and purchased him a new one. I ended up purchasing one for myself. It is a handy thing to have if you have a long vent to the outside. 

I know my sister had the same situation on one of her homes and it was on the second floor and vented near the top of her home so they always had problems getting their clothes dried. I wish I knew then about the nifty brush as it would have helped greatly as there was always a line of wet clothes waiting to get dried due to the length of time it took to dry clothes because of the venting situation.

You can get a brush at the appliance parts store or online. Ebay has several types from about $14 to $33 depending on the length you need and there are the two types I show here for sale. Long and skinny to go into the dryer itself and the 3 inch one that you can use for small wood stove pipes or for dryer vents. 

Remember when purchasing it that you can go from both sides so you don't always need it to go the entire length from inside to out. I can't get mine all the way due to the right angles so I go at it from outside until the angle and then from inside to the angle. I keep a bag for "lint" and dust outside and in when I am cleaning it out so I can bag anything immediately as I pull it out so the dust doesn't go into the house far. 

If I had a straighter line vent, I would put a bag on the vent and tape it on and then push the brush through until it was inside the other bag as that would keep the dust and lint from getting inside the house or if going from inside to out, you wouldn't have to touch the lint to collect it as it would "fall" into the bag taped to the outside vent. 

As mine is a difficult case, I have to go from outside to inside several times to make sure I get the two right angles cleaned out. I keep a vacuum handy and vacuum up the dust and stuff immediately in the house so the dust doesn't go airborne. 

I suggest you wear a head flashlight so you can see into the pipes the full length and make sure it is cleaned out. So, you need, a vent brush, bags for lint, a flashlight, and a vacuum. I also vacuum off the brushes when I am through using them. It is also good to vacuum the back of the dryer and take off the vent from the back and make sure there isn't any lint stuck in the back of the dryer. My repair man told me to stick the vacuum hose in the back of the dryer as far as I can to get it cleaned out. I also used the brush in the back and then looked in with the flashlight to make sure it was all cleaned out. 

I am always amazed at how much lint I get coming out in a year but with those blankets, you can fill them up quickly so if you have one of those blankets that sheds, I suggest you don't use it as it can really fill up the pipes and vent areas of your dryer.And, if you have washed and dried it a few times, I suggest you check your outside vent line to make sure it is clean.

Once I got the vents all cleaned out, I vacuumed out the dryer vent hose that goes from the wall to the dryer as well, vacuuming it out completely. You could replace it if it has lots of lint stuck in it but mine was actually fairly good. Most of the lint ended up in the vents. 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. It takes me about 40 minutes to do mine as I have to go from both ends and I have two quite full grocery sacks full of lint by the time I am finished. I caution you to be careful when removing the little vent covers for the outside vent. You wouldn't want birds making nests in the line as my friend had happen as her little covers had broken off. You have to pull them off by bending them in the center so the little pegs don't break. You can purchase a new vent cover if you do happen to break them when taking them off the vent opening but if you are careful, they should come off with a small bend to the center.
I suggest you put it on your calendar to remind you yearly on a day like the saturday before the superbowl or something so that you don't have any issue with a fire. When I was growing up, we had a fire in our dryer and I walked past just as it was on fire but hadn't spread so we were blessed with that. It really is easy to do but is just a bit messy but anyone can do it. Your kids may actually enjoy doing it as pushing the brush in and pulling out the dirt can be satisfying when you finally see a clean pipe. It makes me think of the chimney sweep scene in "Mary Poppins" when the kids had fun helping clean the chimney out. At least it is one thing off my "to do" list for another year. Happy Venting!

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