Blowing Your Dryer’s Nose
We recently purchased a brand new electric clothes dryer. So when it stopped drying properly after less than a year we were a little more than surprised. The first thing we checked was the 220-volt power outlet. A dryer can fool you. Even though the drum is turning it may not be getting enough power to properly dry a load of clothes. A dryer powered by 220-volts only uses 110-volts (half the circuit) to rotate the drum. However, it uses 220-volts (all of the circuit) to fire up the heating coils. So, just because the drum is turning and just because the light inside comes on, it doesn’t mean that it can perform as designed. Much to our surprise – and disappointment – the circuit indicated that 220-volts was available and making its way into the machine.
The next task was to pull the dryer out and check the exhaust system and the wall ducting. Boy, we were amazed at what we found. We had a firetrap on our hands. The system was completely clogged with lint. It was as if someone had stuffed tons of lint into the exhaust duct with a cannon ram. The lint was to tightly packed that we had to literally chisel it out.
As an extra-added measure we thought it would be a good idea to hire a company to clean ALL of the ducts in our home at once. We don’t own the special vacuuming equipment needed to clean heating ducts. But, and because we wanted to kill as many birds with one stone as possible, we decided on a whole-house duct cleaning. After writing a check for several hundred dollars we were convinced that our dryer would do a load in record time. It was off to the laundry. As soon as the load was ready we chucked it into the dryer. You could have heard a pin drop an hour later when the dry shut off automatically and we opened it to find a wet load. You wouldn’t want to know what was said over the next few moments.
What could it possibly be? The power was OK. The dryer was getting hot and the ducting in the dryer and the wall had been professionally cleaned. It was time to call in an appliance repair person. The dryer seemed to be running really warm, but everything inside was hot and wet after an hour of tumbling on high.
So, would you like to know what happened? No one had thought to check the dryer-duct outlet on the roof. Yep, in our case the dryer outlet exhausts through the roof. Up the ladder we went. And there it was – starring us right in the face – a clogged weather cap. Lint was compacted so tightly that we had to pull it out a little at a time with needle nose pliers. Yuck! It took nearly a half-hour to get it clean. Needless to say there is a moral to our story. When you clean your ducting…..make sure to check both ends!
As you might imagine we have decided to clean our own dryer duct from now on. Apparently, some of the people who do it for a living have trouble counting to two – the number of ends in a duct.
Anyway, if you can count to two, then you will enjoy creating your own duct vacuuming system that can be used to insure that your dryer is operating as safely as possible while at the same time operating at peak energy efficiency. Keep in mind that even a partially clogged dryer duct is a fire hazard at best and definitely reduces the appliances energy efficient operation.
First, you will need a short length of garden hose and a plastic cap from a spray can. The cap and hose are connected to create a “slender” and “flexible” vacuum cleaner adaptor. One end of the hose is cleanly sliced at a 45-degree angle (making it easier to feed around tight corners). The other end of the hose is fed through a hole in the plastic cap that allows the smaller hose to connect to the larger one on your vacuum. You got it! A tiny bit of DUCT TAPE is used to attach the plastic cap to the hose. Suction from your vacuum cleaner should hold the apparatus in place during cleaning. If not – you got it – duct tape it.
Vacuuming the inside of your dryer will take less than five minutes and will immediately improve operating conditions when lint is removed. The same holds true for the duct in the wall.
By the way, it’s a good idea to check your dryer duct. Optimum conditions can often be achieved without a lot of hassle. Here’s what to check for and some ways to improve things:
- Replace flexible ducting with the rigid kind. The flexible plastic type is especially bad.
- Make connections with metal tape – not screws. For extra strength strap ducting to the framing – especially near duct connections.
- Use the absolute fewest 90-degree elbows in the line. Each elbow reduces free flow.
- Insulate your dryer duct where it passes through unheated area (crawl space and attic). This reduces condensation inside the ducting. Wet lint is kind of like plaster of Paris.