While cleaning out my dryer duct, I accidentally pushed out of the three flaps on the louvered vent. The simple solution is to replace the vent. However, I cannot easily access the outside of the vent, because it is 15 ft. above uneven ground on the back of my home.

I can access the entire ~25 ft. of aluminum foil duct in the unfinished basement.

Question: Could I just install an inline backdraft damper between the vent pipe and duct? If not, what do you recommend?


Loose vent flap (lint is hanging off) enter image description here

Location of vent above sloped ground enter image description here

Aluminum duct to vent pipe enter image description here

Inside of vent pipe, before flap pushed out enter image description here

  • Can you post photos of the inside and outside of the vent?
    – Armand
    May 22, 2022 at 5:46
  • 2
    I've seen bird nests built in a single day in dryer ducts that had no louvers. Even if you cover the opening with large mesh hardware cloth, wasps or hornets may find the open duct a nice place for a nest.
    – MTA
    May 22, 2022 at 14:00
  • @Armand See edited post with pictures
    – Steven
    May 22, 2022 at 16:07
  • @MTA I agree. What do you propose as a solution? Will an inline backdraft damper do the trick?
    – Steven
    May 22, 2022 at 16:08
  • 1
    I agree that trying to access the outside so high up raises safety issues. It would be super easy to deal with the problem up there, though. I'd consider hiring a professional with the ladders/skills to climb up there and just replace or repair the vent. Perhaps while they are at it, they could finish cleaning it as well.
    – Armand
    May 22, 2022 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


An extension ladder (you'd probably need a 24' ladder because of the slope of the land, maybe even a 28' footer), some stakes to keep the legs from sliding down the hill, and slow, patient work will take care of this.

A damper inside the house would be much easier, but will leave the outside portion open to allow critters to take up residence. This will end up blocking the outlet and preventing anything from flowing out at all. You'll end up with your duct completely full of lint and will have to replace the whole thing. It may take a couple of years to get to this point, but while it's happening, you'll also have much slower drying of clothes, leading to running the dryer multiple times to dry each load. The best long-term solution is to take care of this properly, now.

I own a 24' extension ladder and I'll readily admit, being on it at full extension isn't my idea of an afternoon of fun. It does feel wobbly and it's nerve wracking. Taking your time is the key to climbing and working on it, and do NOT overreach to the side. Of course, in this instance, you'll be able to work directly in front of you by placing it correctly (directly in line with and a bit below the vent). You might consider a stabilizer attachment for the top that will widen the base of the ladder against the house to help prevent twisting.

Something like this:

ladder stabilizer
Source: Lowes.com. No endorsement intended or implied

Have a tool belt to keep your tools and supplies handy and your hands completely free for climbing. Do the work only with someone else there to help stabilize (and call for help if worst comes to worst).

If you're not comfortable on a ladder that long (and I wouldn't blame you), hire someone to come replace the vent for you. As noted above, it'll be cost-effective in the long run.

  • I decided to hire someone.
    – Steven
    May 31, 2022 at 3:06

Your damper solution will solve your back draft problem and leave a nice nesting area for your furry or feathered friends. When you or somebody replaces the vent be sure it has the shutters close enough to prevent one or more of your friends from going through and even better if it has a screen. While you are at it I would replace the duct with a new one that does not have all the lint collection ridges such as 4" stove pipe.

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