Many homeowners are finding unwelcome critters living in and around their dryer vents at this time of year. The Home Depot's Joe Autry explains the supplies it takes to get rid of those small animals and to prevent them from coming back.

Dryer vent cleaning improves the safety and efficiency of your dryer installation. As dryer vents become filled with lint and other debris, drying time increases and can cause the dryer itself to overheat. This increases energy consumption since the dryer has to run longer to dry your clothes and can also cause fires in the dryer or the dryer duct.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports dryer related home fires are on the increase. CPSC figures show that in 1997 there were 16,800 dryer fires which caused 30 deaths, 430 injuries and 97.3 million dollars in property damage.

If you have noticed that your dryer is running longer than it used to you may need to have the dryer vent cleaned. Some dryer vents are relatively short and straight and can be cleaned easily by the homeowner, but others aren't that easy and may require the use of special tools and equipment. There are tools specifically designed to clean dryer vents and with these tools we are able to do a thorough job of cleaning even the most difficult installations. While dryer vents are routinely blocked with lint, animal nesting is also another frequent cause of dryer vent blockage and our equipment allows us to remove these blockages as well.

Another problem created by blocked dryer vents serving gas dryers is the possibility of carbon monoxide seepage into your home. If the dryer is not exhausting properly to the outdoors, CO can back up into the home.

Dryer Vent Checklist:

- Dryer duct must be at least 4" diameter and as large as dryer outlet.

- Concealed ducts must be rigid metal (galvanized or aluminum) duct.

- Duct joints shall be secured with metal tape, do not use screws or rivets.

- Unless otherwise permitted by dryer manufacturer, developed length of dryer duct shall not exceed 25 feet. A 45 degree elbow counts as 2 ½ feet of pipe

and a 90 degree elbow counts as 5 feet of pipe.

- Joints shall be installed so the male end of the pipe points in the direction of the airflow (away from the dryer) See figure 1 below.

- Dryer vents shall be independent of all other systems and terminate outdoors. (Do not vent into another chimney or vent)

- Outside termination hood should be equipped with a back draft damper.

- Duct backpressure should not exceed 0.6 WC (inches of water column). Higher backpressures indicate a poorly installed vent.

- Use flexible metal connectors between the dryer and the duct.

Plastic connector ducting is not recommended.

The recommendations shown above are based on dryer vent manufacturer's information and local building code requirements. Consult your dryer installation manual for exact requirements for your dryer.