Curious if there is a good solution for cleaning a dryer vent that has two sharp elbows in it, one next to the other. There is a 90 degree bend as soon as the vent enters the wall and another 90 degree bend about a foot below it as it moves towards the back of the house.

I've tried using the "Lint Eater" product (by Gardus) and a power drill, but the two bends in the vent together are too sharp for the the rods to make the turn. It seems that the only option is to come in from the outside but I'm afraid of hurting the vent hood. Damaging the hood it would only make the problem worse if an animal decides to move in. Hoping there is some other alternative.

  • Do you have access to all of the vent piping? – DMoore Sep 4 '13 at 16:26
  • I believe I can get to the whole length in the crawlspace... That is a thought - could I disassemble the fittings and clean the pipe in the crawlspace? We just bought this house and I have never owned a home before :) – Shrout1 Sep 4 '13 at 17:49
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    Might want to get in there and clean it and make sure it is actually hooked up right. Bring some vent tape and a couple of self drilling screws with you. – DMoore Sep 4 '13 at 19:07

I've had good luck with the brushes that come with the Lint Eater type products you mentioned... but tied on to a piece of rope.

First step is to get the rope through the vent. I hook up a shop vac to one end and feed the rope in from the other. The shop vac will suck the rope through the vent. Sometimes tying a cloth rag to the end of the rope increases the force of the suction on the rope. When the rope arrives at the other end, tie the Lint Eater brush to the rope.

Now comes the fun part: pull the rope back out the other way, dragging the brush behind it.

Additionally, you can tie a rope to the other end of the brush before you pull it back. This lets you pull the brush back and forth a couple of times without having to repeat the shop vac trick.

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  • That is a great idea! I may give that a shot this weekend. My vent hood might actually allow this... – Shrout1 Oct 7 '13 at 17:40

A shop vacuum with a long hose works well. It does not polish the pipe or tube, but it serves the basic purpose of opening the air passage. Some vacuums have a flexible hose while others have a rigid tube: for elbows, you definitely want a flexible hose.

To get around the first elbow, you can bend the hose with a light line (like string) tied around the end and pushing on the hose. The outside vent is removable, though a lot of people use caulk to attach them so it may take considerable prying—try running a sharp knife at least 3 inches (8 cm) long between the flange and the building to release any adhesive. Also, it may be difficult to reinsert it back into the tubing inside the house unless it can be pulled outward. But elbows would not normally be used with flex tubing, so it should be relatively easy to reinsert.

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