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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5
    I live on the 6th floor of a 7 story condo building and my dryer duct goes up into my kitchen ceiling, through the ceiling, and out the front wall of the condo approx. 30 feet away. The dryer was a 20 year old Spacemaker with bad door seals that had been dumping lint into the ductwork for years apparently.

    When I moved into the place a couple of months ago I noticed that the dryer was not working and took the front cover off. The entire body of the dryer was packed with lint and dog hair as was all of the ductwork coming out of the blower and up into the ceiling. I pulled as much as I could out with my hand and then called a duct cleaner to come and give it a try. They put their compressed air hose way up into it and did their thing, but said that they got almost nothing out.

    Well, I recently replaced the washer and dryer with a more modern model and am positive that I am having the same problems with the clothes not drying so I am thinking that the ductwork is still clogged up.

    I looked at the outside vent and it appears to be a grid type vent that fits flush against the wall (6 stories up) as opposed to one of the flaps that I am used to seeing on dryer vents. It is one vent in common for three exhausts: dryer, stove, and bathroom. My guess is that some of the huge quantity of lint that must have been in my ductwork has gotten trapped against the inside surface of that grid and blocked it to an extent that could not be removed with by the normal duct cleaners procedures.

    So my question is, what options are available to me? I am not terribly interested in doing it myself unless it is really simple. I had considered hooking some really powerful suction up to the inside end of the duct, like a gas-powered leafblower, and trying to just suck it all back into my kitchen, but that seems like a bad idea. A rock-climbing friend offered to rapell off the roof with a leafblower to try to clean it out, but that also seems dubious to me. Seems like an HVAC guy could cut into my ceiling near where the ductwork exits, cut into the duct, and remove any blockage at the end. Is that the right way to tackle the problem? Do little cameras on a stick exist to look through the ductwork and see what is really happening?

    I read in the new dryer's docs what the backpressure spec is for the dryer, and I am interested in having someone come out with a manometer to at least check it out before starting to tear the place up. Can any residential HVAC person do that or is it something special? And lastly, since my unit is not the only one with problems with the exterior vents (other units have had rain blowing in theirs and collecting in the ductwork eventually leaking into their walls and such) how could I make the condo board's decision to replace all of the exterior vents easier by contacting local contractors myself? Should I be talking to residential or commercial ones? And what are good sites to find ones in my area (DC)? I don't like the yellowpages grab bag.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    1,841
    Most hvac companies can fix it or come up with a new way to do it.


    how could I make the condo board's decision to replace all of the exterior vents easier by contacting local contractors myself


    The hvac company that comes out may help they can see if it was installed wrong that may help.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5
    OK. Should I look for residential ones or commercial ones?

    The construction of the building (and my unit being on the 6th floor) seems more similar to a commercial problem to me, but maybe the difference between the two types of companies are their business methods more than their expertise.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    1,841
    eudmin OK. Should I look for residential ones or commercial ones?

    Most companies do both just call one they can tell you if they won't to do it or not.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    322
    Is the vent hard duct, i.e. sheet metal? Maybe a shop vac with extra hose? Some can vacuum and blow depending on where you attach the hose. The combination might clear it out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5
    Fat bob - The vent is 4" sheet metal. One thing I noticed was that even though all of the dryer documentation says that dryer ductwork should not be assembled with screws because they grab lint this one seems to be screwed together. At least that first 90 degree angle where it goes into the ceiling has screws in it.

    I will think some more about the shopvac idea. I could probably borrow the stuff from someone else and at least give it a try, but I guess I would still like someone to come to take a look at it.

    My dad was a pipefitter until he died of pancreatic cancer recently. It still feels weird to call anyone else with these kinds of questions, and I wish I knew as much as he did.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    322
    Sorry about your dad. If the duct is screwed together getting a shop vac hose past the screws might be tricky. I think the standard hose size is 2 1/2. But they are not expensive and are handy for lots of things. No matter what you should unclog if it is in fact clogged. A clogged dryer vent is a serious fire hazard. Incidentally, a grille should never be put on a dryer vent, though that's obviously not your fault.

  8. #8
    I think you should call a sheet metal contractor, often it is not the same as a heating and cooling co.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Hell Hole Swamp
    Posts
    4,180
    There are companies that do this sort of thing, an HVAC company that does duct cleaning may be able to do it also, if all else fails you could use one of these not the best solution but its better than burning up a new dryer, they are popular in the condos around here.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    2,597
    i personnaly would not even consider using on of those contraptions.

    come summertime you will be adding a large amount of heat and humidity to the structure that will have to be removed by your cooling system. (i.e., increased energy bills.)

    unfortunatley your best bet is going to be cutting holes in drywall to access the venting. depending on the lengths of piping used it may take several, as it would be a wise idea to remove any screws and tape the joints to prevent this problem in the future.

    i live in a condo also and have a recurring problem with a bird nesting in mine. i can reach the exit from a window, clean out the nesting, come home from work the next day and it has rebuilt it with even more crap. finally sprayed some bleach in and that seemed to work.

    if many owners in your building are having the same problem, take it up w/ the bod as a fire hazard. mine talked about it a couple of years ago but so far no action.

    good luck

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    southern illinois
    Posts
    5,536
    no screws,no screen supposed to be used......we are allowed to use chimney liner....although pipe would be better.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    34.8n 102.4w
    Posts
    3,244
    It is one vent in common for three exhausts: dryer, stove, and bathroom. That doesn't sound too good. Grease, lint and bathroom air in 1 duct ?? If that is true , I believe the condo should fix it up to code...JHMO
    Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Huntsville,AL
    Posts
    4,125
    raise H E L L! get it fixed!
    else, the next call may be to 9 1 1

    this is a fire awaiting to happen --
    grease + lint --

    I would sell & move quickly -- problem is, you know of the hazard, so have to disclose it to next buyer.

    you may get your's fixed, how about the ones below you, beside you?

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