Dryer Vent Cleaning - Should I Call A Professional or Do It Myself?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 dryer fires start each year, causing $35 million in property damage and loss.
The leading cause of these fires is failure to do regular dryer vent maintenance. If you're like most people, you may not think about the connection between your dryer vent and your family’s safety often. However, cleaning the lint filters and ductwork is absolutely necessary if you want to keep your home safe.
That said, SHOULD you leave dryer vent cleaning to the professionals or attempt a DIY job? Your home and your family may depend on your choice, so make sure it's the right one! Here's what you need to know about dryer vent cleaning, the do-it-yourself method, and the hidden hazards.
Why You Need Dryer Vent Cleaning
Most people know that you need to regularly clean the lint filter before and after each cycle. However, that is only the first step. Why? Because your lint trap doesn’t catch all of lint generated in the drying process. There is still lint that travels past the filter, which moves through your dryer and into the dryer’s vent. Some particles manage to be discharged completely to the outside, others do not. Its these fibers that, over time, begin to collect on the walls of the pipe.
Lint is created by fuzz and bits of cloth from your clothing, which are highly flammable. This collection of small, dry fibers are easy to ignite. Think of bits of lint as tiny kindling. In fact, some people use dryer lint to start fires when camping.
Another reason you need dryer vent cleaning is that sometimes the exterior vent cover can get damaged, clogged, or otherwise blocked. It's not always easy for untrained individuals to spot these issues on their own.
Besides preventing fires, you can also extend the life of your dryer and keep your warranty active with regular maintenance.
The DIY Method
A vacuum and dryer vent cleaning kit is often a homeowner's go-to method for a DIY job. These kits, which can be purchased online or in most hardware stores, contain tools, such as a rod and brush meant to clear lint and dust.
While these kits are relatively inexpensive and effective, in inexperienced hands, they can cause more problems. These DIY kits not professional grade tools and can easily accidentally be spun off inside the pipe. They are also generally not flexible enough to negotiate 90 degree turns that many dryer vent systems have. Homeowners can sometimes get an unpleasant result when they run the rods both way creating a huge plug of lint and debris that they are unable to remove.
Then there is the potential to encounter unexpected pests have found their way into your ductwork. Birds and even squirrels, are known to make homes in dryers vent. These critters can create a huge amount of debris in the duct, which can quickly cause a dangerous clog and is difficult to remove without the right equipment.
Other methods people may attempt to use to clean a dryer vent include fish tape, leaf blowers, and reverse compressed air. These methods just aren't as effective at cleaning your dryer vent compared to the way a professional team can.
Also, not all ductwork is easy to reach and clean. Dryer vents can be up to 35 feet in length and have multiple bends making it difficult to maneuver with DIY tools. It may also be difficult (and dangerous) to reach your dryer vent on your own as the exterior dryer vent covers can be located up high on the side of your home or even on the rooftop.
The DIY method is generally okay to use if your dryer is on an outside wall and your ductwork is short (less than 4 feet).
Hiring a Dryer Vent Cleaning Service
Hiring a professional dryer cleaner to come and care for your vents can give you peace of mind, but you shouldn't simply search for "dryer vent cleaners near me." There's a lot you should consider and a few factors that impact the price you should know about.
Most duct cleaners charge a base price and then add an additional charge based on the length of the dryer vent run (by the foot). At All Clear DVC we only have three cleaning rates. These rates are based exclusively on where the exterior dryer vent cover is located on the outside of the house. So, a ground-level cleaning will cost less than a second-story cleaning and a second story cleaning will cost less than a rooftop cleaning.
To learn more about pricing, you can take a look at our rates here and reach out to us if you have any questions. Disclaimer: Please note that on occasion there can be other factors that will impact the price like pipe separations or water standing in the pipe.
Homeowners should also consider the cleaning method the professional will use. There are two main methods most duct cleaners employ – the “rod and brush” method and the “reverse compressed air” method. At All Clear, we use the “rod and brush” method because it’s the method that tends to removes the most debris and give the best clean.
Benefits of the Pros
If you have a long and winding dryer vent run, the DIY method can be downright risky. You might not get parts of the run cleaned as well, equipment can get stuck, and you might damage the ductwork.
A professional dryer cleaner has the tools and skills necessary to effectively clean even the trickiest ducts. Professionals have a wide range of tools and know how to clean the vent without causing damage.
What Can You Clean Yourself?
Although you should leave dryer vent cleaning to the professionals, there are steps you can take to maintain your appliance and prevent fires.
Regularly sweep up dust and lint out from behind the dryer, as well as wipe down the outsides of the machine. Clean the lint trap before and after each cycle to reduce the amount of lint that makes its way into the ductwork.
Keep the outdoor vent cover clear if you can see it. Finally, make sure you have your dryer vent inspected and cleaned if needed, at least once a year.
Dryer Vent Cleaning: DIY or Professional?
Regular dryer vent cleaning and inspections can help to protect your home from fires and keep your appliance running at peak efficiency. As you weigh the pros and cons of a professional dryer duct cleaner compared to doing it yourself, remember that a poorly done job can be hazardous.
It's always best to leave this job to the professionals. Here at All Clear Dryer Vent Cleaning, we proudly serve both homeowners and business owners in the Kansas City area. Book an appointment online so you can give your ducts the ALL CLEAR!