Saturday, January 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home: Cleaning the Dryer Vent

Fun for the whole family! Actually, best leave the kids out of this one.

We've had our gas dryer for about 3 years and, until very recently, we hadn't had any trouble with it. But lately it's been really slow drying the clothes and I was having to run it twice to actually dry things. Not a good thing, especially when energy is so expensive.

I figured I needed to clean the vent, since I've heard it recommended every two years or thereabouts. So I unplugged the dryer, since I didn't want to die a horrible death by electric shock, or even to survive it. Secondly, I had to figure out how to get the kick plate off the front of the dryer. I read all the information that came with the dryer and nowhere were to be found instructions for doing this. Ridiculous! So I did a quick search online and, wouldn't you know, Bob Vila knows all. There's a Q&A section where someone else had asked the same question about the same dryer, so it was all there for me to discover.

All I had to do was to pop open two connectors and the door swung down as if I had said "Open Sesame!" Very nice. Three hex screws later and the whole lint trap side was off and the blower was exposed. Lots of lint. I can understand why they tell you it's a fire hazard. First I scooped the major chunks out, then vacuumed. Once that was done I put it all back together and, with the help of my husband (who is not nearly as jumpy as I am about gross things one might find lurking behind a basement dryer), took off the vent from the back of the dryer. I poked and prodded the lint buildup all around the tube until is succumbed to my persistence and came out in globs.

I then went to the outdoor exhaust hood, since it is unseasonably warm out, and stuck a flexible tube into it to loosen the lint in the upper part. I also used some pliers to pull lint out of the hood that was preventing the flap from closing. The flap I'm talking about is the one that keeps small undesirable things out of the house. Yes, that one. Once it could open and close freely again, I went in to clean up the debris. Then I was satisfied it couldn't get much cleaner and my hubby put the vent back together and taped it up. Clean! And running efficiently as I type this...

Sorry no pictures, but nothing was very photogenic about this project. Satisfying but decidedly unsavory.

In my online searches for useful dryer vent cleaning advice, I found an interesting link to alternative uses for dryer sheets. It was enlightening.

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