How Vacuuming Can Save Energy and Lives

significant lint build-up in flexible foil dryer vent
Lint Clogged Dryer Vent at Alicia’s Folks

This past weekend, I got to a project that has been bothering me for some time, I cleaned out the dryer vent at Alicia’s folks house.  Clogged dryer vents cause FIRES, so either hire someone to clean your dryer vent or do-it-yourself (DIY).  If you think this is just a myth, it isn’t.  My in-laws actually had a dryer fire five or six years ago caused by lint build up in the vent and the dryer getting so hot it caught fire.  They were very lucky because my brother-in-law was at the house when it happened and was able to put it out before it caused serious damage or worse.

We knew the dryer vent was a problem again because it took two or three cycles for the dryer to get our cloth diapers dry.  My mother-in-law commented that her dryer didn’t work very well, but we all realized that this was most likely a clogged dryer vent.  Normally, my in-laws are very good about taking care of situations like this, but getting someone in to clean just the dryer vent was very expensive and not easy to do.  They even had a dryer service person come out to look at their dryer, but all he said was that the vent needed to be cleaned and that he didn’t do that sort of thing.

Often times, cleaning the duct is as simple as carefully disconnecting the dryer exhaust hose/duct from the vent and the dryer and clearing out the lint with a brush and vacuum.  If you have the flexible foil or plastic style duct, you should really replace it with a metal duct (flexible or solid) which will trap less lint and if there is a fire, do a better job of containing it.  Here are some basic instructions from WikiHow on How to Clean a Clothes Dryer Vent.

two roof vents shown on the 1st story roof
Roof vent for dryer
picture of Lint Eater contents
LintEater for cleaning dryer vents

Unfortunately, their dryer did not vent directly through an exterior wall, but connected to a rigid metal duct inside the wall that vented out the roof.  Once I removed the flexible duct, I was very glad I had purchased a LintEater from because I really needed it.  The kit includes brushes, flexible rods that connect to a drill and an attachment that connects the vent to a shop vac.  As you can see from the photo, this 4″ duct was effectively reduced to about a 1″ duct and definitely a hazard.

lint clogged this metal dryer vent duct in the wall reducing 4" duct to 1" opening
4″ rigid metal dryer duct clogged with lint

So much lint was clogging the vent that it
clogged my shop vac getting it out.

Using the lint eater was simple, just remember to keep the drill speed slow, we are talking lint here, not wood or metal.  So much lint came out that it clogged the shop vac attachment, so I had to stop and pull out this clump of lint build-up before continuing.  The entire process took about an hour, most of which was spent moving the dryer and detaching the foil flexible dryer exhaust hose, which I will be replacing with flexible metal duct this summer. 

cleaned metal dryer vent
Same 4″ rigid metal dryer duct after cleaning with LintEater

After cleaning the rigid metal duct in the wall, I also very carefully used the Lint Eater to clean the flexible foil duct that connected the dryer to duct in the wall.  After that was all done, I put it all back together. You can see that the results are amazing, and the proof is that now we only need one cycle to dry a full load of cloth diapers.

Not only will cleaning your dryer vent make the laundry easier and save energy, but it can also save your life.  Don’t put it off any longer, especially if you have noticed your dryer isn’t working as well as it had been or if it has been more than two years since your dryer vents were last cleaned.

Happy Greening!

And here is another vacuuming project to save energy that I’ll discuss in another post.  What do you think it is? Click on the picture to find out!

mystery energy savings picture
Who can guess what this is a picture of?

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  1. Air return?

  2. Absolutely true! We have a brand new dryer and vent so we are good for now, but if you have to run that dryer more than once there is a problem! Great article!

  3. Wow, I really need to do this. I have been putting it off for far too long. Thanks for the post!

  4. Keep guessing!

  5. Oh wow, I think I need to check ours!

  6. Anonymous says

    Out side refrigerator coil?

  7. I bet this is a picture of under the Dryer or the Refrigerator.

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