Step-by-step guide: Unclog the dryer vent

Dryer vents that are not cleaned out regularly can be hazardous, here's your guide

Offering a washer and dryer, or even just hook-ups, in your rental is a smart move. Not only can it increase your revenue as a property owner by 15% according to a survey by the National Apartment Association, but it helps make your residents' daily lives more convenient. Win-win right? Well, not so fast. These appliances require maintenance and the cost of failing to keep them clean and functioning properly could be devastating. 

According to the US Fire Administration, “2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires.” Woof. How does this even happen anyway? Well, the hot, moist, linty air produced by clothes dryers escapes out of the property through the dryer vents. But over time, lint and dust can catch and build up along the walls of the vent and ducts. Meanwhile, the air is getting trapped and the clothes aren’t drying. Add heat from an overworking appliance and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

So don’t be a statistic! As a property owner, do yourself a favor and avoid the fire hazards by cleaning out your properties’ dryer vents at least once per year. If you’re not sure when the dryer vent was last cleared, ask your residents to watch out for warning signs that could indicate you’re overdue for a cleaning, like a noticeable burning smell, clothes taking longer than usual to dry, or skyrocketing energy bills due to the dryer's inefficiency. 

Now that we’ve covered the importance of why you need to clear the vent, let’s go over how exactly to do it. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to unclog your dryer vents: 

  1. If you have an electrical dryer, unplug the machine, or if it’s a gas dryer, simply turn the supply valve off.
  2. Pull the dryer away from the wall about one foot or so. 
  3. Disconnect the duct from the back of the dryer.
  4. Vacuum out the vent with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac. 
  5. Vacuum out the duct or use a dryer duct cleaning brush. 
  6. Now locate the vent on the exterior of the property and remove the cover. 
  7. Vacuum the exterior vent.
  8. Once you’ve concluded that all lint and debris have been removed from the vents and that no damage has been made and all safety codes are followed, go ahead and put it all back together. 
  9. Reattach the vent cover outside.
  10.  Reattach the duct to the back of the dryer.
  11.  Plugin (if electric) or twist the valve open (if gas).
  12.  Push the appliance back toward the wall.
  13.  It’s a good idea to test that everything is secured properly and functioning appropriately while you’re still on-site, so a best practice would be to test the tumble air dry function for a few minutes before you jet. 

There you have it! Remember, educating your residents on lint build-up prevention is also key. By keeping the area around the dryer clean and regularly cleaning the dryer screen before every use, not only will your residents’ clothes look better and dry faster, but they will also be helping you protect your property. 

If you have questions and concerns about your property or desire an alternative to expensive property management fees, reach out to RentalRiff today.