The Fundamentals of Commercial Dryer Vent Cleaning

Dryer lint is a menace in terms of the safety and efficiency of clothes dryers. Dryer lint buildup is an extreme fire hazard, as the lint itself is highly combustible, and when large volumes of it are met with the heat of the dryer, the lint can potentially ignite. The less dire scenario is that the lint buildup inside the dryer vent will greatly reduce the efficiency of the machine, causing building occupants in commercial settings to complain of long drying times.

A spa dryer vent before cleaning.
BEFORE: A spa dryer vent clogged with lint mostly from towels, restricting air flow and reducing efficiency.
A spa dryer vent after cleaning.
AFTER: The dryer vent line has markedly improved air flow and greatly increased unit efficiency.

Typical settings of commercial dryer vent cleaning

Commercial dryer vent cleaning will cover a diversity of businesses and properties. Some of the more common settings include the following:

  • Spas and salons
  • Laundromats
  • Apartments/senior living
  • Townhomes

Spas and salons experience very heavy usage of their dryers and should have their vents cleaned several times a year. These establishments mostly dry towels, which tend to produce large volumes of lint, and the addition of large amounts of hair makes the lint dense and heavy. Many of these businesses are on a regular schedule with an HVAC company due to the necessary frequency of cleaning.

Laundromats obviously experience extremely heavy dryer usage. Because of the number of dryers present, the vent lines are often shared—an inefficient setup. In the case of the property pictured below, 8×8 inch dryer vents spilled into a large square dryer duct that terminated out the side of the building through a grille—another inefficiency. The grille became clogged with lint, which backed up the entirety of the horizontal surface of the dryer duct.

A large shared laundromat dryer duct before cleaning.
BEFORE: A large, shared dryer duct for a laundromat containing mounds of combustible lint.
AFTER: The laundromat dryer duct has been cleared of lint and the property placed on a regular cleaning schedule.

Apartments and other multi-unit properties may have either shared dryers in a community laundry room or a clothes dryer in every unit. Shared dryer vents, because of the high traffic they receive, should be cleaned and inspected yearly. Properties that have a dryer in every apartment can potentially get by with a cleaning every other year, depending on the frequency of use, which will of course vary for each unit. On properties that clean their vents on a biannual basis, our company is frequently called to clean a few vents in the interim, for those whose tenants dry frequently.

Townhomes almost universally have individual clothes dryers in each unit. They typically vent to the side of the home or on the roof. Those that vent to the roof are particularly subject to disconnects and should be checked for this at every cleaning. Often the association or property management will assume the responsibility of hiring a company for regular dryer vent cleaning.

A commercial dryer vent cleaning tech cleans a townhome vent.
A commercial dryer vent tech cleans a dryer vent at a townhome in Anoka County.

Dryer vent disconnects

Disconnected dryer vents are unfortunately an extremely common occurrence in both commercial and residential settings. Equally unfortunately, they often go unnoticed for long periods of time since they’re typically hidden behind walls or inside the attic. As the name implies, a disconnect occurs when the dryer vent line becomes detached somewhere between the back of the dryer and the termination—usually closer to the termination (exit).

A townhome dryer vent disconnected in the attic.
A townhome dryer vent disconnected in the attic. Note the volume of combustible lint collecting in the rafters.

When a disconnect occurs, dryer lint is blown into spaces that it should not occupy—between walls, above ceilings, etc.—creating both a fire hazard and the risk of mold growth due to its moisture content.

There can be a multitude of causes for a dryer vent disconnect, including installation technique and the length of time between cleanings. When lint is allowed the opportunity to collect inside the vent line for a long period of time, it becomes heavier and moisture-laden, increasing the likelihood of its weight forcing the vent line to detach from the termination.

From estimate to project completion

The commercial dryer vent cleaning process begins with an estimate: a site visit by a commercial project manager during which he’ll meet with the property manager or maintenance supervisor and survey the property for the location and number of dryer vents, as well as their configuration (shared or individual).

During the project itself, the commercial techs will make note of any unique situations or areas of concern. They’ll take photos to document their progress and to assure property management of quality work. They’ll also make note of specific units they suspect of having disconnects and provide an estimate for repair/reconnection.

Reach out and we’ll show you how to keep your business or property on top of commercial dryer vent cleaning for the benefit of tenants, customers, and management alike.

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