Dryer Vent Cleaning
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Ventilation Cleaning Strata Properties – Push Vs Pull – Water Damage 💧

Trouble Shooting Water Damage In Dryer Vents

The biggest misconception behind dryer vent cleaning is actually the reason why most people think its necessary. Its not because of the fire risk: they are exceedingly rare occurrences, and usually occur due to the lint trap in the dryer itself not being properly cleaned. Rather, the real risk emerges from blocked vents that condense moisture from the dryer. This, over time, pools, and can cause thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in damage. The trick, if it can be called that, is early diagnosis of the problem. The first signs of a blockage may seem relatively benign: excessive humidity and steaming in the residence as the air “blows back” from the vent. Clothes may take longer to dry. 

Once condensation occurs and the water starts to pool, the next step is to observe direct signs of damage. Frequently the water find a seam in the vent, which allows it to spill out into the surrounding area. Within the affected region, this will quickly look like any other water leak, including discolouration of the affected material. 

If any of these signs seem familiar to you, let us know… we’ll look at the situation together and determine the best course of action.

From The Interior or Exterior – Push vs. Pull ? 

This is a question we often receive when clients get a quote which offers both options. Its not a precise science, but there are a few considerations to be aware of before making a decision. Simply put, the difference is where we insert the skip into the vent. In both cases we blow out the debris through the vent. For pull, or “outside only” cleanings, we insert the skip from the outside until it reaches the dryer, then blow back the debris to the outside. For inside cleaning, we insert the skip at the start of the vent by the dryer, and push everything out. We usually do an outside clean with an inside one to make sure that the vent exit is clear and functional. The combination of an in and out is the most effective way to clean a vent, though there is a premium due to the extra effort involved.

However for many vents, especially one that have been regularly cleaned and are at low risk of blockage, an outside only will suffice. We can usually do these without requiring suite access, which saves time and the cost to the strata. If you have any questions, call us today and we will determine the best course of action for your particular needs.

Push Vs Pull

Slab Ducts – Dark Side Of Dryer Vent Cleaning

Over the course of the past 25 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes to buildings, IMG_8958their construction and designs. Dryer vents are no exception. The image most people have of dryer vents are round three to four inches in diameter circular metal pipe with a flap on the end. While this is a common (if not the most common) design, especially for low-rise buildings, there are a number of different configurations that are employed.

In a previous E-tips we highlighted that the greatest source of potential damage from uncleaned dryer vents is not fire, but moisture. As the air from the dryer becomes trapped, it condenses the moisture, which collects into pools and starts to wreak untold damage. They permeate into the surrounding concrete, and damage the overall structure. Such leaks tend to spread down to ceiling areas, leaving unsightly watermarks.

This is somewhat more common issue than people realize, particularly in high-rise buildings. Many use a rectangular shaped vent, which is sunk into cement prior to curing. While there is nothing particularly wrong with this design, the issue is with implementation. Often the duct runs are constructed with too many corners, quickly diminish the airflow’s strength. More alarmingly, many are only an inch in depth, which is insufficient to ensure proper air passage. Finally, many are damaged during construction, causing an obstruction that prevents air from passing altogether. We’ve seen all of these issues, and they can be extremely problematic.

Remedial work is often an expensive, and messy proposition. Repairing the concrete ductworkvents, if it is even an option, can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The alternative is to build a new duct run with a drop down ceiling. While less costly than concrete reconstruction, it can be aesthetically ugly and diminish a unit’s value.

While in some cases such work is unavoidable, there are alternatives to deal with these issues. Booster fans can be installed to provide extra airflow to overcome any existing issue. A proper exterior housing that provides no impedance to exiting air can help. In addition, preventative work can do quite a bit to ensure proper airflow. This includes regular cleanings of the system, with particular care for problem units. While this may require a few additional minutes of attention, it can avoid a far more costly repair job.

If you have a problem unit like this, give us a call. We can inspect the system and determine whether alternative approaches can ensure proper function, or major remedial work is required.

Central Air Duct Cleaning “History Of Sick Building Syndrome”

(Strata buildings are notorious for not cleaning their central air supply ducts, take an inventory of your buildings and ask your self when was the last time they were cleaned?  In most cases they have never been cleaned.)

Today, having access to a home with adequate heating/cooling is not just seen as a modern convenience, but as a basic human right, on par with food, water, sanitation, ect. But without proper care and attention, it can quickly become a source of illness for its residents. The first heated air type of central air heaters emerged in early 19th century Great Britain, which ironically was used to heat up hospitals. The inventors discovered that patients healed quicker when they remained warm and comfortable (surprising, I know). Soon they were installed mills, and then personal residences.

These systems were supplanted by the ubiquitous hot water/radiator system, but they shared a key limitation of only providing heat during the winter months. Residents had little recourse during hot summer months. By the 1950s however true climate control systems started to appear. Forced air systems were paired with air conditioners and heaters to provide year-round assistance.

However the central air systems are not trouble free or without risk. This was made apparent in the 1970s with the oil shocks. In order to save energy, many apartment and office buildings iStock_000019880307Largewith central air systems were sealed off on the outside, and heating and ventilation was recycled within the building. This created the rise of “sick building syndrome, where poor air quality contributed to a number of illnesses.

While central system design improved dramatically in the 1980s and 90s, risks still remain. Over time central air venting will accumulate dust, organic materials and other harmful items, that are then released into the system. living creatures, like bacteria, mold and dust mites can actually grow inside the system, which is then distributed around a building. These particulates can irritate people with allergies or asthma. It is also not a health issue. The Ducting’s efficiency drops as it more and more dust and debris fill its interiors. This increases energy costs and decreases the system’s lifespan, as more energy is needed for longer in order to provide a desired temperature.

Dryer Vent Cleaning Care

Property managers often come to us with their problems and we try to solve them. In 2010 we noticed many were tired of constantly hiring different contractors to re-clean their gutters throughout the year. Our solution was the Gutter Maintenance Programs; a total service plan where ServiceMaster takes responsibility for cleaning your gutter over an extended period of time… not just for the day a technician is out there.

We are now very excited to introduce another service that will help strata buildings and property managers. DRYER VENT CLEANING CARE provides solutions to a number of challenges that a strata may face with their dryer vents. Our Standard dryer vent service includes the items listed below and the Dryer Vent Cleaning Care program has added features to deal with concerns through out the year.

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Quick Fact – did you know we serviced over 35,000 dryer vents in 2014?

What does it cost?

Similar to our gutter maintenance programs, the Care is an additional item added on the standard cost of the service, prices range from $ 200.00 to $ 400.00 per strata.

What is a return visit?

It is in the best interest of the strata that all dryer vents are cleaned every year. The damage that can occur affects the common area of the building. For whatever reason up to 30% of the units during the initial service access is not successful. We will return and attempt to gain access again.

How do you clean dryer vents? “Push & Pull”

This is an image showing how we feed the tooling into the pipe. At the top, we see how feeding it in from the inside works to ‘push’ the lint and air out the dryer vent point, so that lint does not get into the unit. From outside, the bottom pic, we feed the hose in through the vent cover and ‘pull’ the air and lint backward. They both work the same, as both remove the lint from inside the tube and force it out, away from the unit.

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Can you clean high-rise strata’s without entering the units?

Yes we can we have certified rope access techs on our team that rappel from the exterior of your building and service the vents.

Should we have our vents cleaned from the exterior only, or should they be cleaned from the interior and exterior?

This depends on the length of your ducting and how many corners there are in the system, we generally recommend that strata’s alternate every year. When preparing the plan for your strata we can investigate the vent system to make a recommendation.

What is central air cleaning? & How often should they be cleaned?

Central air cleaning is the ducting system that provided the fresh air from outside into your common hallways of your building; this is generally from a rooftop unit. They should be cleaned every 2nd year at minimum and more often in a high-density area.

Dryer Vent Cover Replacement

This video shows how badly clogged a flat dryer vent cover can become, and demonstrates why a strata or home will benefit changing to the proper style vent cover for dryers.[wpvideo 4U1fBWVe]

Dryer Vent Cleaning – One Easy Change Can Fix A Lot Of Issues

Dryer Vents. They can be a fire hazard, they can cause water to leak into the ceiling creating thousands of dollars in damage; they can be a real maintenance issue. If one of your buildings is having repeated issues with their vents, our quick tip of the day may help solve the problem:

Look at the physical vent cover at the outside point of the dryer duct. What do you see?  If the wrong type of vent cover is installed  – change them.  This can prevent a lot of issues developing over time.

We are finding that there is one style of dryer vent that is clearly outperforms all other choices.  When speaking to a local manufacturer, they told us builders often place orders  for vents without acknowledging that the dryer vent cover should be different from that of other vents.  So, we’re finding often problems are created because the wrong style of vent is installed.  These vents get clogged quite easily by a build up of lint.  This causes a reduction or stoppage of air flow, which leads to the issues.

Why would a builder put on the wrong kind of vent?   Ignorance.   Cost savings (buying all the same style in bulk might save them money).  A mix up with construction subtrades.   The reason could be any or all of the above.  Whatever the cause, we are seeing this issue a lot in the GVRD.   Vent covers are put on backwards, the wrong style of cover is put on, etc.

So, what should you look for?  What is the correct style?

The best dryer vent cover is one that has a simple flap. It opens when hot air forces it to when the dryer is turned on. When the dryer is off, those flaps close.

We’ll call this “Style A”.

The gaps between the flaps offer enough room for the air to carry lint out. These are the best type of vent cover to have.

“Style B”

Vent covers with flaps and plastic mesh over top are not properly designed to be used for dryer vents!   Those that are marketed and sold as dryer vent covers are doing the public a disservice.  The plastic mesh grid clogs up with lint, and then the flaps underneath cannot open.  Also, the professional tooling used to clean dryer vents in the majority of cases cannot fit into the tiny holes of the grid.

We spoke to a local vent manufacturer.  They explained that the dryer vent covers that they make have a flap but no plastic mesh grid.    Those with grids can be used for bathroom fans and other purposes.  They related when they sell vent covers for dryers, if they run out of the style that have flaps but no mesh, they cut the mesh off dryer vents that have both, turning vents of Style B, into Style A.

“Style C” pic.

Those vent covers with very thin gaps are not designed for dryer vents. They easily clog when the slightest amount of lint builds up behind them. We have replaced this type of cover with proper vent covers on several buildings and find this significantly improves the effectiveness of the dryer, of the cleaning services, and reduces issues in the building – which can save thousands in damages when you consider moisture build up in the ceiling or fires caused by these clogged airways.

The other issue with these thin vent covers is that they’re often put on backwards, forcing the lint filled air onto a window below. So, not only is the vent cover not doing its job properly, it is also making the windows dirtier.

Good air flow is the key component with dryer venting. Restricting the ability of air to flow out with a tiny mesh screen at the very end which easily clogs with lint: bad idea.

The proper dryer vent cover should work ideally in 99% of cases. The other styles cause issues almost all the time.

Here is a video of one of our technicians and what he found on a site.   You’ll see him clip the screen off, allowing the bent to ‘breathe’, and function as it should in future.

[wpvideo 9y0gCvKf]

So if one of your stratas is struggling with dryer vent cleaning issues, take a look at what they have installed at the exit point of the dryer vent duct, and determine if that is a major contributing cause. If so, replace the dryer vent covers. You’ll save a lot of money in the long run.

Cleaning Program Launch for Shared Laundry Room Vents

ServiceMaster Clean Residential for Vancouver is launching a program for regular maintenance of common laundry room dryer vents. The constant use of these facilities generates huge amonts of lint build up in very short time spans. The results: less efficient dryers, risk of damage to the machines, and greater risk of fires. Our maintenance program drastically reduces those risks and related costs.

To give an example, manufacturers recommend annual cleaning of dryer vents for regular 1 family use of a dryer. This is based on a few loads of laundry dried per week. Common laundry room dryers are used many more times each day than just 1 family would use theirs in a week. The lint that piles up inside in a few months time can be amazing – something I found out while performing a dryer vent cleaning job last year. The pictures shown were from dryer vents that had been cleaned out 6 months previously.

In order to ensure proper regular maintenance of this type of facility, we are offering regularly scheduled maintenance of shared laundry rooms to our customers to make sure this need is addressed.

Our common laundry dryer vent cleaning programs include:

-1 yearly cost, several visits booked throughout the year

-free camera inspection of dryer vents for any problem areas

-ServiceMaster 100% satisfaction guarantee

Contact us for a quote with more details.

Dryer Vent Cleaning: Inspection Camera & From Inside Suite vs Outside or Both

Why Our Inspection Camera Is Great

     This is a photo taken from a dryer vent cleaning job where a customer complained that we must not have cleaned their vent properly, as hot air wasn’t coming out from the other end of the vent.  We peeked inside, and this is what we found:

The builder hadn’t bothered to extend the pipe all the way to the vent which was attached at the end of the building, so the hot air and lint was being jetted inside.  Unusual, yes, but I’m glad we got the bottom of the problem.  This was not something that could be corrected by cleaning.  The resident needed their installation completed.

There are sometimes unusual problems that need digging into in order to find the source.   Our camera can be used to investate what is happening deep inside the vents to ensure problems can be identified and afterward solved.

Why Cleaning From 1 Direction Works Very, Very Well

     Did you ever take a straw out of a paper wrapper when you were a kid, then stuff some of that paper wrapper back into the straw, put your mouth on one end, and blow?  If you did, you shot a piece of paper out of the other end of the straw.  If you moistened it first, you might have called it a ‘spit ball’.  Not pleasant, but a lot of fun if you’re eight.

Dryer vent cleaning is essentially the cleaning of a tube, like a straw, with some gunk in it.  It’s a fairly simple idea: blow the gunk out.  You want a clean tube to allow air flow from both directions, and that is what our dryer vent cleaning does.

However, there is often confusion between cleaning the dryer vent, or tube, from the inside or outside of a tenant’s suite and if one way is better than the other, or if even cleaning from both directions is required.  Essentially, we are choosing one end of the tube, like picking one end of the straw, inserting our equipment, and blowing the gunk out.   The difference is that we usually choose to blow in the direction of the outdoors so that you don’t end up with the gunk in your home.

The hose has an attachment on the end which directs the flow of air.  If we insert it from inside the suite near your dryer, we aim the air forward so that it blows out the vent and outside your home.  This will clean the tube from the point of insertion to the vent, because we feed the equipment forward, pushing and blowing the dryer lint using high pressure air until the vent is clean.

If we clean the dryer vent from outside the suite, we insert the equipment with a different nozzle on the end which blows the air backward, out the vent and away from your dryer.  We feed the tube forward to the end, and the high pressure air blows out the dryer lint, cleaning the tube.

Since we are cleaning the lint out of the vent from one end to the other using high pressure air, I’m going to compare it to the eight year old again trying to blow a spit ball at his friend: we don’t really care which end of the tube we pick to blow from, just like a kid could choose either end of the straw to stick in his mouth and then blow: the end result is that the gunk is going to come flying out and the tube and it will be empty and clear again.

The difference is often in regards to convenience to the residents of the stratas we are servicing.  If we can access the vents from outside of the suites, there is less coordination needed for residents to be home to allow us in and access the dryer vent tube from the spot near their dryer.  It is much easier to feed in the equipment from outside so that no one is bothered.

I hope this helps demonstrate and further your understanding of the process.  If you have any questions or need any further clarification, please visit our website, blog, or call us.

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