canít see can hurt your wallet, or worse.
the biggest threats and money sieves at home are things you
canít see, like your clothes dryer vent.
easily neglected piping, which in larger homes can exceed 40
feet, often goes ignored for years, sometimes decades.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, that
inattention causes more than 15,000 fires annually.
lot of people donít understand how bad the problem can
be," says Scott Smedstad, owner of Arizona Air Duct
Cleaning in suburban Phoenix. "A lot have never had it
to Glen Mayfield, owner of Dryer Vent Wizard of Central
Indiana, if your dryer takes more than 40 minutes for a load,
feels hot to the touch while running or collects large amounts
of lint during operation, youíre probably ready for a
want to clean your dryer vent on your own, thereís equipment
available, including brush kits that cost anywhere from $15 to
over $50 based on length and quality.
Smedstad and Mayfield say results vary.
do it successfully, but (the brushes) can break or disengage,
so you have to be careful to make sure it works properly and
it doesnít get stuck," Mayfield says. "Iíve
retrieved a lot of them."
has also seen good intentions go bad.
is someone going to have enough or the right equipment to do
it on their own," Smedstad says.
longer the ventilation pipe, and the more bends and buildup it
has, the more difficult the job. Professionals like Smedstad
and Mayfield use a sturdy snake or power brush to release
clogs, along with a strong vacuum to remove the impediments.
with substandard brushes, Mayfield and Smedstad shudder at
another do-it-yourself tactic: using a leaf blower to clear
the vent from the inside.
can do that if itís thoroughly cleaned first, but most
people blow it and plug it up 10 times worse," Smedstad
says. "Sometimes itís packed in so bad people have to
cut the ceiling out to take the pipe apart. It isnít a real
is moist, and a blower canít clean it out," he says.
"Itís like a snowball, and the more it rolls the bigger
the only enemy, as birds are a common infiltrator. Entering
from the outside, they love building nests in the closed, warm
a huge problem," Mayfield says. "Sometimes theyíll
peck the vent cover until they can get it open, and they can
get in even if itís in good shape. Weíve found them six
and eight feet deep into the vent."
does dryer vent cleaning cost?
average dryer vent cleaning costs around $95, while Mayfield
charges $125 to $175, depending on the job.
service saves customers money both short- and long-term.
Mayfield cites industry studies that say clogged vents can add
$18 to $25 to your monthly energy bill. Also, since clogged
vents render dryers ineffective, it isnít uncommon for a
homeowner to scrap a unit because they think itís shot.
go out and buy a new one, have the same problem and then call
us," Mayfield says. "Then theyíll say, ĎOh, my
gosh, I got a new one and didnít even need it.í"