A lot of people aren’t aware that the vents to their dryer need to be cleaned on a somewhat regular basis. The vents can clog up with lint, compromising the efficiency of the dryer and even starting a fire in some of the worst cases.
But what happens when your dryer vents go through the roof? Follow this step-by-step guide to keep your vents clean and clear. This will keep your dryer running efficiently for a long time to come and will prevent house fires.
How to Clean a Roof-Level Dryer Vent
1)Vacuum at Ground Level
Using a household vacuum or shop vac, you will need to clean out the length of the vent. Unless you have access to a longer, industrial vacuum, you won’t be able to do this from the roof. So, before you do any climbing, make sure that you get in behind the dryer to vacuum out that portion of the vent.
Most dryers will have clamps that connect the dryer vent to the outside of the exhaust pipe. If you can’t pop them off by hand, use a screwdriver to release them so that you can vacuum thoroughly. The good news here is that you can run your vacuum tube directly up and into the dryer vent. You may need special attachments that will pick up the lint that can clog up your vent; these help the vacuum perform a more thorough job.
2) Peeling Shingles
After you get up to the roof safely (more on that later), you’ll need to examine the area where the vent guard is. It is possible that there are shingles covering the vent or the screws that hold the vent guard in place.
If this is the case, peel back the shingles. Keep in mind that the shingles are held down by tar, so you’ll need to use a utility knife to cut around the shingles so that you can gain proper access to the dryer ventilation.
3)Remove the Guard
When you finally gain access to the vent, you should notice that it is covered by some sort of guard. If you are able to, remove it. There is a chance that you might notice that there are big clumps of lint stuck to it; make sure that you remove these clumps using your hands.
If the guard is nailed down, you can use a pry bar under the head of the nail. Hit the pry bar using a hammer; this should bring the nails up gently. Make sure that when you remove the nails, you hold onto them because they will need to be put back into place later on.
After you have taken out all of the nails, you should be able to pull up on the vent guard to take it off. Depending on your vent, you might have to twist as you are pulling up on it in order to remove it completely.
4)Clean with a Vent Brush
In addition to cleaning out the interior of the vent, you should clean the surface as well. You will need a vent brush to do this. Depending on the attachments that came with your vacuum cleaner, you may be able to use that. If you don’t, purchase a vent trap cleaner.
Whatever you go with, gently remove any of the lint from the vent guard as well as any of the other exterior surfaces where lint can build up. Do not skip this step; it defeats the purpose to clean the interior of the vent but not the exterior.
5)Cleaning the Interior
When you’ve cleaned off the exterior of the dryer vent, it’s time to put your vent brush inside. Twist it; by doing this, it will trap the lint on the brush. All you need to do is pull the brush back out and you should bring lint with it. Continue doing this until you stop pulling out lint.
Keep in mind that much of the lint from your dryer will become prevalent at the ends of the vent tube. With some basic cleaning, as well as vacuuming the ground floor, you should be able to pull out the vast majority of lint. If you notice that there is still a lot of lint at the very end of your reach, you might need to call in a professional to take a further look.
6)Reinstalling the Guard
After you’re finished removing all of the lint from the ends of the vent, it’s time to put that guard back into place. You should have kept the nails from before; if you didn’t, you will need to buy more so that you can properly secure everything back into place.
Make sure that you put the vent guard back into place securely. This should help to keep debris from entering and will even keep critters trying to get into your home from being able to do so. If you can’t get the guard back into its proper place, you will need to have it replaced. When debris can fall into the vent easily, it could actually seriously damage your dryer.
Getting onto Your Roof Safely
It is important to remember that any work that needs to be done on the roof should be done as safely as possible. Falling from the roof can lead to serious injury or worse. If you have slate or tile roofing, it’s probably better to turn to a professional.
Walking on slate and tile can damage the roof at best. At worst, you could fall through completely, hurting yourself in addition to damaging the roof.
Tips for Getting Up onto the Roof Safely
The first and most important tip for getting up onto your roof safely is to do so on a clear day. Rain or snow makes slipping and falling far more likely and the last thing we want to happen is for anyone to get hurt. Even strong winds can be enough to compromise your balance or shake the ladder as you are climbing upwards.
You should also make certain that your ladder is solid and level. One of the leading causes of injury when climbing up to the roof is that the ladder is not level and solid. If the ground is slanted or soft, the ladder could end up tipping or slipping out from underneath your footing, causing a nasty fall.
Safety Equipment is your Friend
Most do-it-yourself projects are done that way to save money. And while that’s totally understandable, safety should never ever be compromised. What’s cheaper: a little bit of safety equipment or a hospital bill caused by a nasty fall?
At the very least, you should have a helmet and soft-soled boots that will provide you with better traction as you traverse the roof. If you want to get really serious about your safety, invest in a safety harness. They are about $300 but are way cheaper than a hospital bill. If you do quite a bit of work on your roof, a safety harness could make for a worthwhile long-term investment. Anything that you can do to improve your safety while on the roof should be done.