Dryer Vent Cleaning DIY VS Professional Cleaning

Homeowners have a lot to consider regarding home maintenance, and one often overlooked area is the dryer vent. Clothes dryers cause about 2,900 home fires per year, and more than 30% of those occur because of dirty dryer vents.

Knowing when and how to clean your dryer vents could be one of the best steps you take to keep your family safe. This beginner’s guide to dryer vent cleaning can help you figure out when it’s time to unclog those vents and decide whether to do it yourself or hire a dryer vent cleaning company.

persons hand dropping lint from dryer vent

Table of Contents

How Much Does It Cost to Clean My Dryer Vent?

Though there is some variation based on your location, dryer vent cleaning depends on whether you plan to handle it or hire an experienced professional. Of course, if it has been a while or you have other problems with your system, you could expect to pay more.

The DIY Method

Handy homeowners may want to attempt the DIY method because it only costs the price of tools and a few hours of your time. You may even have some of the tools on hand to save you even more money. If you just want to attempt to do this dryer vent cleaning project on your own, then we have a great DIY dryer vent cleaning article.

  • Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit
  • Power Drill
  • Vacuum or shop-vac to suction the lint out of the inside of the dryer ducts
  • Screwdriver to remove the hose, pipes, and clamps
  • Safety gloves for protection
  • Foil Tape
  • Safety Glasses
  • N95 Mask

If your dryer ducts are too long for your vacuum or shop-vac to clear out, you also need to pick up a dryer vent cleaning kit and a power drill. Dryer vent kits have special brushes with additional extensions and flexible rods to reach those tough spots.

You can find them at your local home improvement store, usually for less than $40. The brushes attach to the rods, which connect to a power drill. Turn on the power drill to make the brushes spin and clear out the vents.

Hiring a Professional

The DIY method may be cost-effective, but it’s not always sufficient to unclog your ducts. If you can’t sufficiently clean dirty dryer vents, you put your family at risk, so it may be best to hire a dryer vent cleaning company to do a thorough job.

Professional dryer vent cleaning services cost around $134 on average. The amount of time it takes for the technician to unclog the dryer vents determines the final price. Additionally, dryer vents located on the roof may take a little longer and involve slightly more effort.

How Often Should My Dryer Vent Be Cleaned?

Dryer vents need annual cleaning to keep your family safe and your machine operating efficiently. That said, some circumstances may require more frequent cleaning to preserve the lifespan of your dryer.

lady frustrated with dryer cleaning
Clean your dryer vent once a year!

Do I Clean My Dryer Vents Semi-Annually or Yearly?

Mostly, it depends on how frequently you use your dryer. As a general rule, it’s smart to get your dryer exhaust vents cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year. There are two main exceptions to that rule.

First, if you do a lot of laundry that requires frequent use of the dryer, you can expect lint to build up faster. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to consider increasing that to every three to six months, depending on the amount of laundry you do each week.

The other exception is people who have dryers located far from the outside wall. Having long hoses and ducts can make it tougher to unclog them, so you may want to get them cleaned every six months instead.

Signs Your Dryer Vent Needs Cleaning

Thankfully, your dryer gives off plenty of indications that it’s time for a cleaning. Buildup in dryer vents doesn’t happen overnight, so watch for these signals:

  • Clothes take longer than usual to dry.
  • Your lint trap fills up much faster than usual.
  • You notice lint and debris around your dryer hose.
  • The outside of the dryer gets hot, and your clothes may feel unusually warm.
  • The clothes smell musty or a bit like something burning.
  • Your vent hood flaps don’t open or close properly.
  • The dryer sheets have a funky smell or seem to fall apart after one cycle.
  • You haven’t had your dryer vent inspected or cleaned within the last year.
  • Your laundry room feels unusually hot whenever you do laundry.

When you have excessive buildup in dryer vents, it means the machine operates less efficiently, which can translate to higher utility bills. If you can’t figure out another reason for an increase in your utility bills, you may want to check on your dryer.

Clothes Dryer Fire Safety Facts

As noted above, dryer vent clogs contribute to thousands of home fires every year. Knowing some of the most common dryer fire safety facts and tips can help keep you and your family safe.

  • Always have an experienced technician install clothes dryers.
  • Carefully clean the lint screen and filters before and after every load, and don’t forget to clean the back of the machine.
  • Have your dryer vent system inspected and cleaned regularly.
  • Apply coverings to the outside walls so that rain, snow, and debris can’t get into the pipes and hoses.
  • Make sure everything is properly connected and wired by professionals.
  • Watch outside for blockages, like small animal burrows, insects, and bird nests.
  • Never use clothes dryers without the lint filter and always replace damaged filters.
  • Avoid overloading the dryer.
  • Always follow manufacturer instructions for the machine and any clothes or items you want to put in the dryer.
  • Only operate the clothes dryer when you are at home and awake.

Observing these basic safety measures and maintaining your machine can keep your home and family safe and sound. It only takes a few minutes to do many of these checks, but it can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and immeasurable heartache that come with house fires.

Pros and Cons of DIY Dryer Vent Cleaning

Understanding the importance of cleaning your dryer vent system is one thing but deciding whether to do it yourself or hire an experienced technician is something else. It’s tempting to save money for what sounds like a quick and easy job, but there is more to consider, even if you are handy.

dryer lint cleaning behind dryer
DIY dryer vent cleaning, gone wrong! Customer didn't connect the vent back properly!

DIY vs. Professional Technicians

There are few situations that make for quick and easy DIY projects. First, if your vent is perfectly straight with no bends and comes out on the side of your house, it may be easy enough for a DIY kit. The other situation is a short line, around six or seven feet, that comes out the side of your house.

It could be extremely challenging to complete a DIY vent cleaning in other situations for a few big reasons:

  • You have a rooftop vent, especially on a two-story house. It can be unsafe, even with the proper gear.
  • Your vents are long, winding, or both. It’s not easy to clean out a dryer vent system with multiple bends between the dryer and the opening.
  • Some DIY kits can damage the system, especially cheaper ones. One of the most common issues is the brush getting stuck in the vent system.

While some handy people can clean their vents in a jiffy, you may not be as lucky. If you get a brush stuck or somehow push enough lint together to completely block the vent, you could be in for a more expensive fix.

Can’t I Use a Leaf Blower?

Maybe you saw your neighbor going to town with a leaf blower on their outside vent and thought it was a great idea. Leaf blowers do pack a lot of power, right? That may be true, but your neighbor might be making the biggest mistake of their life!

Even with an exceptionally short dryer vent system, using a leaf blower could be dangerous. Forcing air through a small vent can cause significant damage to the system, including blowing out the line and damaging the surrounding walls. That kind of trouble could mean a major mess and a massive construction job.

When to Hire a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Service

How do you know when the job is too much for a DIY fix? Some people may read the potential drawbacks to a DIY job and skip right to calling the experienced technician. If you’re not sold on hiring a pro, consider some of the advantages.

air duct cleaning equipment and van
Proper dryer vent cleaning equipment includes 175PSI two stage gas air compressors!

When to Hire a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Service

How do you know when the job is too much for a DIY fix? Some people may read the potential drawbacks to a DIY job and skip right to calling the experienced technician. If you’re not sold on hiring a pro, consider some of the advantages.

Advantages of Hiring a Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning Service

Not all dryer vents look, run, or operate the same. While that leaf blower may work just fine for your neighbor with a short and sweet four-foot dryer vent, it’s not going to be as effective for your twisty-turny system. A professional dryer vent cleaning company has the tools and expertise to adapt to those bends and twists, but that’s not the only reason to go with the pro.

It’s Safer

Personal safety is the reason you need that dryer vent cleaned, so why would you risk injury to unclog it yourself? It can be extremely dangerous if you have a rooftop vent, especially if you don’t have the right ladder and equipment to handle it.

Even if you don’t have a rooftop vent, there are plenty of components involved. You also have to be savvy with electrical or gas lines, depending on your dryer.

It’s Convenient

Convenience is worth something. Again, some systems may be a quick job, but that’s not always the case. Think about what happens if you pick up a kit, but the brush gets stuck. Can you get it out? How do you plan to remove it?

There’s a good chance that you have to call in a professional at some point if something goes wrong. Why waste time when you can make a phone call, schedule an appointment, and let a pro do the rest?

Gives You Peace of Mind

There are a lot of steps involved in cleaning out a dryer vent system, and if you miss any of them, it could mean trouble. How confident are you that you can do the job right? When you hire an experienced technician to do the job, you know it’s done properly.

Many professional dryer vent cleaning services do airflow tests before and after. Not only do you get to see how effective the work is, but you also know if they missed anything.

Pros Have the Proper Equipment

To do it yourself, you likely need to pick up a kit that may or may not do the job. Professional dryer vent cleaning companies often have industrial-quality equipment that can easily handle things, no matter how long or complex the vent system is.

Additionally, if something needs repairing during the process, a professional likely has the necessary parts to make that fix. They also have the training necessary to know what to look for and how to respond to unexpected issues.

Who Needs Dryer Vent Cleaning

Getting your dryer vent cleaned isn’t solely an issue for homeowners. Anybody who uses clothes dryers on their properties should pay careful attention to those vent systems to prevent damage to the building.

Some people may not even consider the dryer vents even if they use clothes dryers regularly, including:

  • Property managers who oversee rental properties, apartments, and condos should be mindful of the dryer vent systems. Whether tenants have individual laundry facilities or there is a shared spot, the buildings could see dozens of loads of laundry per week. That’s a lot of lint!
  • Laundromats do little more than laundry, and how many people clean those lint screens before and after using them?
  • Hair salons have loads and loads of towels to wash every day. How much lint and debris do you think builds up in those systems?

Everybody who uses a clothes dryer also has a dryer vent system to care for, and that means cleaning them. While it’s possible to take the DIY route, hiring an experienced dryer vent cleaning service is easier and safer. It’s also one of the more affordable maintenance jobs you can get, so why not save yourself some time and struggle?

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