Your questions, Our Answers

SearchAsk
See Answer
dryer vent cleaning

Dryer Vent Cleaning: Best Way to Remove Lint

Your newsletter last week had a section on dryer vent cleaning using a product called "Lint Eater" (see www.linteater.com). I looked at that, but it requires you to access the vent on the outside of the house. Since my dryer is on the second floor, I think my dryer vent goes out of the roof. Is that right? If so, how can I possibly clean it?

I have never cleaned the vent because we had a real hard time lining up the back of the dryer with the vent in the wall. If I pull it out, I'm not sure I'd be able to get it back in. Should I just not worry about it? I do clean the dryer lint filter out all the time, but I know that isn't really enough.

Photo credit:  www.linteater.com

Our Answer

No, cleaning your lint filter is definitely not enough! You'd be wise to get a friend to help you pull that dryer away from the wall and use the Lint Eater brush to scrub the insides of the duct. You will be quite surprised by the volume of lint that gets trapped in the ducts of those with even the most admirable lint-trap cleaning habits! You got the dryer back once before, so you will be able to do this again.

The only other way to attack the duct is from the roof where it terminates, but since gravity won't be in your favor there, we recommend you access it from the dryer area first and clean the dryer vent from there.

See Answer
cleaning, washer

High-Efficiency Washer: Reinforcing Floor

The manual for my high-efficiency washer says I may need to reinforce the floor. What does this mean? New subfloor? How big a job is this? What can I expect to pay?

Our Answer

Generally speaking, if your floor is supporting its current use (a laundry area) and isn't otherwise rotting or in disrepair structurally, there is no reason why it needs to be reinforced.  However, high-efficiency washers can vibrate.  That is because the drum rotates much faster than a regular washing machine during the spin cycle. 

It's very important that both the floor and the washer are level to minimize the vibration.  To remedy it further, you can get an anti-vibration pad to place under the washer.  There is a company called KE Shake-Away that makes a very good one. 

See Answer
dryer, duct, lint, fan

Dryer Duct Too Long

Recently bought my first house. Went to install my dryer and the duct has about 2 inches of lint all the way through it. There is about 60 feet of rigid and flex duct with a blower in the middle. My home inspector said the blowers are illegal due to the fire hazard. I want to avoid the fire hazard of the blower. At Home Depot I found a possible solution that is just 4 feet of flex duct that empties into a bucket that you put an inch of water into. However lint still goes everywhere and I've heard stories of the condensation caused by this causing mold. My dryer is located in the utility room in the basement and duct work runs along the ceiling and out the back of the house. There is no where else to move my dryer. What are your thoughts?

Our Answer

The dryer duct configuration you describe definitely sounds unsafe.  Dryers should be ducted via the shortest distance possible and through rigid ducting, with as few turns as possible.  Adding a booster fan is a possible solution but I'd make this a last resort.  Dryer duct booster fans are specialized fans designed to turn on and off with the dryer itself.  Ducting the vent into a pail of water is not a solution as the heat and humidity will be uncomfortable at best, and can also raise your energy bills and allow mold to grow.  Given everything you said, I'd look for another location for the washer and dryer.  Keep in mind that full sized-machines can also be stacked with the dryer placed on top of the washer to save space.

See Answer

Best Way to Install a Dryer Vent

Hey guys,   I having a hard time installing the dryer vent tube. The inlet/outlet wont't line up and I end squishing the vent tube up against the wall.  I know this is restricting airflow. There has to be a better way. What products/methods can you recommend? Thanks in advanced. I love the show!

Our Answer

You're right Mike.  Getting the dryer vent connection right is far more important than most people know, and for several reasons. First off, its important for safety.  Dirty dryer ducts are a leading cause of house fires.  Plus, the longer the dryer has to work to vent that moisture, the more energy it burns up in the process, not to mention the increased wear and tear on the clothes as they tumble around a lot longer than they need to.  

It sound's like you've tried the straight forward approach of snaking the vent behind the machine, but the key here is (and as you've observed) to do this without crushing the vent. In fact, you want to do this with as few bends and turns as possible.  Every 90 degree turn, provide the same resistance as 20 additional feet of duct run, so the fewer twists and turns the better.  Here's a couple ideas that might help.

  1. Take a look at the layout of the dryer exhaust inside your house. What happens when that duct gets into the wall?  Can it be changed for easier access?  There are a number of prefabricated ducted dryer exhaust configurations that can help. In some cases, it may be smart to cut open the wall to adjust the position or re-run the duct completely.
  2. Look at the dryer.  Many can be easily modified so that the exhaust ducts out the side, instead of the back. When I remodeled my laundry room a couple years ago, I did just that. Now, instead of the duct taking two turns and then running 20 feet under my son's bedroom, it goes all of 18 inches out the side of the dryer and through the exterior wall. Our clothes have never dried faster!
  3. Once you have the ducting set, be sure to keep it clean. Cleaning a dryer vent is easy if you have a right tool. Now that I have a short exhaust duct run, its not as critical but before that, I used an inexpensive dryer duct cleaning tool called the Gardus Lint Eater. It is a series of flexible piping that link together and has a big brush on the end.  It snakes its way through your dryer venting system and will get rid of all of those dangerous lint bunnies lurking in the dryer vent.  

Lastly, it is also important to replace plastic or vinyl dryer ducts with metal duct material, which is sturdy, making it easier to clean your dryer vents.

Hope this helps!