ServiceMaster Clean Vancouver | dryer vent cleaning
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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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FAQ’s

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 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.

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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.

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.

Dryer Vent Cleaning

Since the exterior division at ServiceMaster Clean Residential added dryer vent cleaning to its’ list of services, we’ve had great success performing this service for stratas around the GVRD.   We’ve had a few questions from property managers and strata council members about dryer vent cleaning, so here are a few points to address those questions.

What is this service?: We clean the accumulated dryer lint from the ducting between the dryer and the vent from which hot air is expelled from the unit into the outside air.

Why do it?: This ensures each dryer is performing at its peak, and prevents fires.  Heat from a dryer can cause lint clogging vents to ignite.

When is best to perform?: Unlike gutter cleaning, there is no ‘season’ for dryer vent cleaning to be performed during the year.  Rather, it can be done at any time.

Frequency

According to dryer manufacturer Whirlpool:   “Frequency of Exhaust System Cleaning – Every exhaust system must be inspected periodically and cleaned to ensure that it is intact and free from lint accumulation.  The frequency of these inspections will vary, depending on thesystem and usage of the dryer. For single-family usage, an annual inspection is recommended. In commercial usage or in multiple dryer systems a more frequent inspection is recommended.”

Dryer Vents should be cleaned at least once per year, with common laundry room vents more frequency due to heavy use.

Who performs the cleaning?: Trained exterior division technicians.

How is this performed?:   This is done using high pressure air, which blasts the lint out of the duct, without damaging the duct itself.  The equipment used is a flexible snake system, which can be inserted into the duct from the vent located on the exterior wall or roof and blast the air backwards out the vent (to outside); it can be inserted at the point where the dryer unit attaches to the wall and blast the air forward and outside, or both.  In most cases, from one end of the duct is sufficient.  Some stratas prefer the cleaning to be done from both inside and outside of the units to ensure the most thorough cleaning possible.

 

Cleaning From Exterior vs. Interior and Exterior

The equipment we use to clean the dryer vent ducts is able to be used from outside of the residents’ suites and provide an excellent result.  This means we do not need to disturb the resident by co-coordinating a time for access to their home, which may require they take time off work or leave a key with a neighbor or manager.   Our technicians use the reverse snake system, inserting the flexible hosing into the vent, and moving it forward through the ducting to the point where the dryer is attached to the wall inside the suite.  The high pressure air blasts all of the lint out of the duct, back toward the technician outside.

We can also perform the service from both inside and outside, by entering the tenants’ suite, detaching the flexible hose from the back of the dryer where it connects to the wall and inserting the snake system at that point.  A different attachment is placed on the end of the flexible hose, which forces the air forward, pushing the lint once again out of the duct through the exterior vent.  Once this is done, the technician will reattach the hose, then perform the cleaning from outside of the unit as described above.

If for some reason the vent cannot be accessed on the exterior of the building, cleaning from the inside of the suite is sufficient, as cleaning from one direction only can still remove all of the lint from the duct.