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How to clean your drying channel in 5 steps

Dirty drying channels are not only disgusting, they are also a serious fire hazard. In fact, is one of the main causes of house fires dusty, lint-filled dry canals . Even if a dirty drying canal does not immediately damage your home, it wastes your time, energy and money.

A dryer connected to a pipe filled with lint and other waste does not work well either. If your dryer has polished once in a cycle or less wet loads and now requires two or even three, check your vent. Probably your dryer is not broken, just a clogged channel that is at fault.

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Your dryer vent usually enters the wall of the washroom and exits through an outside wall.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Step 1: Find your air duct.

To properly clean your dryer's ventilation system, you must first know where it is and where it ends. Behind most dryer units is a short 4-inch exhaust. This exhaust is connected via an aluminum elbow or other pipe with special pipes in the wall. Hot air flows through these metal pipes, which finally exit through an opening on the outside wall of your house.

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Charge your dryer by cleaning its ventilation hole


In my particular configuration, the dryer exhaust is connected to a duct at the foot of a wall in my washroom. It is located in the basement and leads from there to an outlet near the ground and a few meters to the right of my front door. The existing cap is a louvered plastic cover. It opens to allow warm air to escape, but otherwise remains closed to keep animals out.

The other end of the opening should be outside.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Step 2: Disconnect the dryer safely

After you know the start and end points of your channel, it is time to disconnect the dryer. It's a simple task if you own an electric dryer. Unplug the power cord from the electrical outlet first. Then remove any metal straps or clamps that secure the dryer vent tube to the outlet. If it is easier, you may want to remove only the material that secures the vent to the channel in the wall.

Locate the exhaust vent of your dryer on the back of the unit.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Carefully pull the breather tube away from the wall duct. If your dryer is electric, you should be able to easily push the unit out of the way. This opens up more space for work.

Homeowners with dryers powered by natural gas need to be more careful. Be careful not to disturb the dryer's gas line too much when repositioning the unit. As with gas stoves, the fuel connection normally consists of a flexible steel hose. The hose should be firmly connected, but it is best to play it safe. Gas leaks are a serious and dangerous business. If at any time you are unsure, contact a specialist.

Step 3: Clean, Clean, Clean

At this point you should have free access to the opening of the dryer channel on the wall of the washroom. You can also easily reach the exit outside the home by removing the duct door or duct cover. Next you need to buy a special cleaning kit for the dryer vent. I picked up this product at my local Home Depot for $ 17. It consists of a lint brush and six 2 foot long flexible segments. You join these pieces together to form a pole that spans a full 12 feet.

In my case, I bought an additional device that doubles the reach and also provides an extra brush head for safe storage. The end of the refined device also fits in standard chuck. Armed so that you can turn the brush with a good speed and power.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Insert the brush end of the rod into your channel. I decided to enter from outside the house as this is the highest point. The idea was to use gravity as an aid to getting rid of stuck debris. It's also easier to collect lint on the bottom of my laundry room than in my mulch-covered flower garden.

Press the brush as far as possible down the pipe when turning the rod (counterclockwise to avoid unscrewing the segments). Hopefully you have enough length to reach the other end of the channel. Keep in mind that the process may take a few tries, depending on how many twists and turns your air duct may have.

Step 4: Clean Up, Reconnect Everything

If your dryer vent is something like mine, expect that lots of lint will flow out of the wall. The amount of garbage lying on the floor of the laundry room dropped my vacuum cleaner to my knees. In the end, I had to clean the vacuum cleaner twice to get it back up and running. In retrospect, I suggest using a simple broom and a dustpan.

Carefully reposition your dryer and reconnect it.

Chris Monroe / CNET

After everything has been cleaned up, put everything back the way it was – with one exception. If your dryer has used a soft, foil-like vent to connect to the wall duct, remove it. These hoses are a known fire hazard. Personally, I have replaced the original semi-rigid vent with a pair of 90-degree aluminum bends. They are adjustable but hard, durable and provide the best airflow period.

Step 5: Test Run and Smile

No doubt. A thorough cleaning of your drying channel is a sweaty, messy job. Two years of neglecting the canal were all that was needed to paralyze my old dryer effectively. However, a quick test run after cleaning confirmed that the unit was fully powered up again. Not only would not I have to buy an expensive new device, I would expose the kibosh to the risk of a fearsome drying kiln. Well, that's a rewarding task.

When all is said and done, your vents should have a high airflow.

Chris Monroe / CNET

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